Noni, a traditional Polynesian remedy, lowers total cholesterol and triglyceride levels

March 02, 2006

Phoenix, AZ - Noni, a traditional Polynesian remedy for a variety of health conditions, might be helpful in preventing future heart disease, suggest the results of a new study[1]. Investigators report at the American Heart Association 46th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease, Epidemiology, and Prevention that drinking noni juice, made from the fruit of the Indian mulberry (Morinda citrifolia), for 30 days lowered total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in a group of healthy smokers.

"These are patients who are not eligible for statins or other drug therapy but who are at risk because they smoke and have slightly elevated total cholesterol levels," said lead investigator Dr Mian-Ying Wang (University of Illinois College of Medicine, Rockford). "Noni juice is able to lower their cholesterol and triglyceride levels and so might be used as a preventive measure against future heart disease."

Speaking with heart wire , Wang said that in the South Pacific, noni has been used to treat just about every condition imaginable, including cancer, hypertension, diabetes, infection, tuberculosis, and malaria. Used for more than 2000 years, local folklore heralds the fruit as capable of offering a broad range of health benefits. To look at the effects of noni in a more scientifically rigorous way, Wang and her group tested whether noni positively affected cholesterol and triglyceride levels in a group of healthy smokers.

The current smokers in the study were 20 to 60 years old with total cholesterol levels >190 mg/dL. In total, 106 men and women were randomized to drink to one to four ounces of noni juice (Tahitian Noni) and 26 men and women and men randomized to drink a placebo. After 30 days, the researchers report that those randomized to the noni-juice arm had significant declines in total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, whereas these values were unchanged in the placebo group.

Change in total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in noni-juice drinkers

Measure Baseline (n=106) 30 days (n=106) p
Total cholesterol (mg/dL) 235.2 190.2 0.023
Triglycerides (mg/dL) 242.5 193.5 0.001

The researchers also report that subjects with the highest total cholesterol levels had the largest relative reductions. For subjects with total cholesterol levels considered high, those between 221 and 299 mg/dL, there was an 18% reduction in total cholesterol. For those with very high levels, >300 mg/dL, drinking noni juice reduced total cholesterol levels 22% at 30 days.

Wang noted that LDL cholesterol levels of the enrolled subjects were normal or borderline, but smoking placed them at higher risk. For these patients, many of whom would not qualify for statin therapy, she recommends noni juice to maintain health and prevent disease. Like many, Wang is a believer in its benefits and drinks one ounce of noni juice daily, but she points out that larger clinical trials are needed to determine whether noni can help prevent heart disease.


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