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The noni fruit (Morinda citrifolia L.): A review of agricultural research, nutritional and therapeutic properties

Morinda citrifolia L., the ‘‘noni’’, has been used in traditional Polynesian medicine for over 2000 years. Morinda citrifolia (Rubiaceae) is an evergreen shrub whose ripe fruit has a strong butyric acid smell and flavor. The leaves and especially the fruit are consumed in different forms by various communities (e.g., the Polynesians) throughout the world; the root is used as a dye. As a result of these uses and the market that is developing around ‘‘noni juice’’, it has become increasingly important to confirm the actual therapeutic properties of this plant. While recent studies have shown that this fruit has antibiotic and antioxidant properties in vitro, we still do not have scientific evidence supporting the nutritional and medicinal values of noni in humans. However, both the fruit and damnacanthal, an anthraquinone compound extracted from noni roots, are currently being studied in the context of anti-cancer research. If, in the future, the nutritional and medical values of the noni can be assessed, especially its anti-cancer activity, this fruit could play a noticeable economic role in producing countries.