From turmeric in depuffing ice cubes to cranberries in collagen-protecting moisturisers, the focus in the skin care world is on the power of super foods. While still eclipsed by popular and well-known super fruits like goji berry or pomegranate, noni is a fruit that has earned its title as super food thanks to its many antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and protective qualities.

The noni fruit has a reputation of being almost legendary in that it can prevent dryness, work on skin elasticity, provide sunburn relief, and turn back time. It almost sounds like you can gulp down a glass of noni fruit juice daily and get ageless beauty.

The facts

The noni plant is a fruit-bearing tree belonging to the Rubiaceae family, so it’s related coffee.

Unripe noni fruit, photo by Forest and Kim Starr

Noni is found in Southeast Asia and Australasia, what is also known as Polynesia. It grows in shady forests and can reach a height of 9 metres. It has large, dark green, glossy leaves.

It bears flowers and fruits throughout the year. A green bud blossoms into a white flower which progresses into the noni fruit. The fruit also changes colour from green to yellow to almost white when ripens. For this reason, the fruit wasn’t widely cultivated and eaten as compared to mangoes. Though that has changed in the recent years.

The names

The scientific name is Morinda citrifolia. Due to the pungent (almost like blue cheese) smell that a ripe fruit gives off, it got the name cheese fruit or not so flattering, vomit fruit.

The fruits have the size of a small potato with an irregular egg-like shape and knobbly skin. They look a bit like blown-up versions of a mulberry fruit and hence are called Indian mulberry.

It also goes by many other names including great morinda, noni, nhau, beach mulberry, canary wood, and wild pine.

The content

It will not surprise you to know that the noni fruit packs oodles of bioactive compounds (since you know it’s a super fruit). Research on the fruit is still ongoing but its primary benefit is that it’s an excellent source of antioxidants.

Eating an entire fruit in the West is rare. For one, it’s quite difficult to obtain. Also, the fruit is an acquired taste and can be repellant for the uninitiated. Well, it’s described as cheese gone off with a bitter taste and the smell of vomit. But if you do acquire the taste for it, it can add nutrients to your diet that you don’t normally get with other fruits.

Up to 90% is water, so the noni fruit is not much different from other fruits. The rest is what makes it interesting. It’s made up of fibre, protein, minerals, and vitamins. Its primary amino acids – the building blocks of protein – are glutamic acid, aspartic acid, and isoleucine.

The minerals present include calcium, sulphur, potassium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, and selenium.

It also provides a range of B vitamins, vitamin C, and a range of fatty acids. Its other bioactive compounds include

  • flavonoids
  • morindine
  • terpenes
  • ursolic acid
  • coumarins
  • polysaccharides

As already said, the noni fruit provides potent antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, beta-carotene, and catechins.

Traditional uses

All parts of the noni plant have been used. The leaves, bark, flowers, roots, and fruits were used in folk medicine to treat a multitude of ailments from alleviating fever to stomach pains.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the roots were priced as strengthening Yang. The roots can be used to make a yellow dye. A red dye is extracted from the bark of the noni tree.

Due or thanks to its pungent odour and bitter taste, the fruit wasn’t so popular. But in times of need and famine, people would turn to it, hence it got the name “starvation fruit”. In some regions, despite its strong flavour, the fruit was even eaten as a staple food cooked or raw.

What can it do for your skin

Skin care brands value noni fruit extract for its ability to regenerate cells and to repair cellular damage thanks to its abundance of vitamins – C – and antioxidants.

Turn back time

Hmmmm… almost. Noni fruit extract do have amazing, almost super anti-ageing powers in that can reduce signs of ageing thanks to its high level of antioxidants and vitamin C. The beta-carotene present gets converted into vitamin A in your body. These vitamins have a strong antioxidant effect.

Vitamin A is needed in the upper and lower layers of your skin. There, it helps boost cell regenerations and collagen formation. This helps reduce fine lines, improves skin texture, and also fights zits.

Enhance elasticity

Both vitamin A and C boost collagen production. Containing also flavonoids, potassium, selenium, fatty, and amino acids, noni fruit extract maintains and improves skin elasticity.


There are already fatty acids in your skin and they are responsible for

  • Preventing moisture from escaping your skin (trans-epidermal water loss – TWEL)
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-inflammatory

The essential fatty acids in the noni fruit replenish the fatty acids in your skin and so help to form an antibacterial and water-resistant barrier. You want a well-functioning barrier because it’s key to having smooth and healthy skin. If one of the tasks is not working, your skin barrier will be too. Or in other words, if your skin barrier is not working properly, your skin starts getting dry and flaky, for more on why the skin barrier is important, jump to What Is The Skin Barrier And How To Protect It.

Relief sunburn and insect bites

Got hit by the sun? Got an insect or a pimple coming up? Rub some noni juice on the affected area? Noni fruit is priced as an anti-inflammatory drink. It also has antimicrobial effects and so can effectively provide relief.


Although getting the fresh fruit may prove difficult in the West, you can get it in a variety of beverages, powder, cosmetics, and supplements.

It’s getting more and more popular in skin and hair care and you find noni extract-infused products popping up. The reason is because noni fruit extract is

  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-ageing

And in hair care, it can enhance the colour of the dye for darker colours.

If you find noni juice, you may need to combine it with other juices to make it palatable. It’s not sweet like other fruits but bitter.

Ingredient Spotlight: Noni, The Super Food For Body And Skin

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