Noni had a lot of attention in the early aughts, when it was deemed the next superfruit. But aside from a handful of supplement companies, including the direct-marketing company Morinda that sells noni-fruit derived supplements, cosmetics, and food products, widespread success has not happened (see figure below).
The majority of interest has been in the fruit and its juice, but in a study published in Food Chemistry, researchers from Malaysia compared noni (Morinda citrifolia) leaf’s potency with green tea extract, at the moment a popular ingredient for energy and sports nutrition ingredients going for “clean label,” and found that the former “extended the duration time to exhaustion three times longer than the control mice in weight-loaded swimming test.”
For this current study, the researchers looked at “the ergogenic and anti-fatigue properties of M. citrifolia leaves water extract and the molecular mechanisms of actions involved, through weight-loaded mice swimming test.”
Noni leaf versus green tea leaf
The Noni leaves were from a specimen at the Institute of Bioscience, Universiti Putra Malaysia. It was ground and extracted by boiling in distilled water for three hours, and then evaporated to dryness.
The green tea water extract was from Seamax Resources Sdn Bhd, and contained 95% polyphenol, 5% caffeine, and 40% epigallocatechingallate, used as a positive control for comparison.
Female mice aged six to seven weeks were tested to see initial baseline swimming time endurance capacities. They were then divided into five groups: Group one received noni leaf extract at 200 mg, the second received 400 mg, a third was supplemented with 200 mg of green tea extract, a negative control group only participated in the exercise with a vehicle supplement while the last group had no exercise but was also supplemented with the vehicle.
The exercise was called a weight-loaded swimming test, where the mice’s swimming endurance capacity was assessed weekly for four weeks from swimming time to start of fatigue. Additionally, weights 5% to the mice’s total body weights were tied to each tail, forcing them to keep swimming or submerge at fatigue point.
At the end, blood samples were taken by cardiac puncture, and the skeletal muscle and liver tissues were isolated and frozen for analysis.
The researchers found that, with no significant differences in the baseline, there were significant ergogenic effects by the first week of treatment.
“Treatment with 200 and 400 mg extract/kg BW significantly increased the exhaustive swimming time by 40% and 28% in the first week, 20% and 14% in the second week, and 50% and 41% in the 4th week, respectively, as compared to control [with exercise] group,” the researchers wrote.
Additionally, the researchers found that treatments with noni leaf extract had no significant effects on blood glucose and lactate levels in the exercise group “even though [noni leaf extract] mice swam three times longer than the other mice groups.” Analysis of the skeletal muscle and liver tissue between the treatments also lacked significant difference despite of having different swimming durations.
“M. citrifolia leaves water extract may alleviate fatigue through both central and peripheral mechanisms,” the researchers added. “Glucose as the main energy source, and lactate as the major metabolite that accumulates during exercise, were measured after the exhaustive exercise. Although the [noni leaf extract] mice swam three times longer than the control or green tea mice, their final blood glucose and lactate accumulation level were similar to the control exercise mice.”
They added that the study demonstrated noni leaf’s potential capabilities to enhance mammalian antioxidant response, improve tissue nutrient and metabolite management (which they suppose is related to angiogenesis), suppress stress hormone and regulate neurotransmitter expression levels, increase mitochondrial biogenesis, augment skeletal muscle angiogenesis, and boosting anti-inflammatory responses.
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Source: Food Chemistry
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.05.179
"Morinda citrifolia leaf enhanced performance by improving angiogenesis, mitochondrial biogenesis, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory & stress responses"
Authors: Nor Ajiratul Asikin Mohamad Shalan, Noordin M. Mustapha, Suhaila Mohammed