Written by Karen Pilkington and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated March 15, 2017

Noni (Morinda citrifolia)

Does it work?

Systematic reviews, meta-analyses

No systematic reviews of Noni have been published.

Narrative reviews

Several narrative reviews have been published. Of those published recently, one concluded that some research suggested ‘broad potential health benefits’ and promising results had been reported for several constituents but increased use of Noni was probably due to effective marketing.14 A second review of the literature reached similar conclusions, highlighting the fact that knowledge about the chemistry of Noni had increased but there was still a lack of clinical research.6

Clinical trials

No randomised controlled trials have been conducted to assess the effects of Noni in cancer patients.

Two trials assessed the effects of Noni on levels of substances thought to increase the risk of developing cancer. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted to assess antioxidant activity of Noni in smokers.22 A total of 285 heavy smokers were randomly allocated to placebo, 29.5ml (1 fluid ounce) Noni juice or 118ml (4 ounces) Noni juice per day for 30 days. Levels of plasma superoxide anion radicals and lipid hydroperoxide were reported to have decreased in the Noni groups. A second related study assessed levels of aromatic DNA adducts, a surrogate biomarker for risk of lung cancer, again in smokers who drank Noni juice for a month.23 Of 283 smokers recruited for the trial, 203 completed the study. The results indicated that Noni juice daily may reduce cancer risk in heavy cigarette smokers by blocking carcinogen-DNA binding or removing DNA adducts from genomic DNA. Both were preliminary studies. Over 25% of participants did not complete the trial although all patients were included in the analysis. Noni juice and the placebo seemed well matched but contained a mixture of grape and blueberry juice which could have contributed to some of the beneficial effects reported.

A phase 1 dose finding trial was carried out in 29 cancer patients.12 Patients with advanced cancer were treated with capsules containing 500mg of ripe Noni fruit extract. A dose of 2g was used initially then doses were increased by 2g to a maximum of 10g (20 capsules) daily. A minimum of 5 patients were observed at each dose level for 28 days. Quality of life, symptom status, response, toxicity and pharmacokinetics were measured. Effects on several quality of life measures were reported although these did not reach statistical significance, except for decrease in pain. No adverse effects or tumour response attributable to Noni were observed.

Pre-clinical studies

Pre-clinical studies have shown a range of actions potentially beneficial in cancer. Several of these are described under Mechanism of action. Preventative effects based on anti-carcinogenic activity via inhibition of TPA,5 tumour cell-selective anti-proliferative effects,24 anti-angiogenic activity,25 and stimulation of the immune system26 have all been reported. A recent report describes that Noni Juice was useful in suppressing tumour growth in a mice model for HER2/neu breast cancer in amounts equivalent to human dosages below 90 ml/day.27 Other actions not directly related to cancer have also been reported.

Citation Karen Pilkington, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Noni [online document]. http://ws.cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Herbal-products/Noni. March 15, 2017.


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