Acne, a chronic inflammatory skin condition, occurs when pores become blocked with sebum, or natural skin oil. Although not medically serious, acne can be unsightly, affecting appearance, mood and self-esteem. A dermatologist may recommend topical creams and antibiotics to combat acne. Some people turn to herbal remedies, including noni extracts, to alleviate acne symptoms. Consult your doctor or dermatologist before using noni for acne.
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The primary trigger for acne flareups is changing hormone levels, which cause excessive amounts of sebum to be produced. Skin Care Physicians notes that bacteria don't cause acne, but they exacerbate it by causing inflammation and infection. Acne can appear as comedones, also called whiteheads and blackheads. Inflammation resulting from the presence of bacteria may lead to the formation of papules -- small, raised reddish pimples with white centers -- and even cysts, which are pus-filled lumps that develop under skin. Although acne usually afflicts teens, women in their 40s and 50s are not exempt; fluctuating hormones due to menopause can trigger breakouts. The use of oily cosmetics, certain medications and family history can contribute to acne.
Noni History and Traditional Uses
The noni plant -- botanically known as Morinda citrifolia and also called Indian mulberry, morinda and wild pine -- is an evergreen shrub native to Asia, Australia and Tahiti. The bumpy, yellow-white fruits -- which are edible in spite of their unpleasant taste and smell -- have been used by Polynesian healers since antiquity to treat diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis; noni has also been utilized as a tonic to prolong life.
Constituents and Effects
Noni fruit contains essential oils with anthraquinones, as well as substances called morindone and alizarin. Drugs.com, which provides peer-reviewed medical information to consumers, says that an alkaloid called xeronine has been isolated for medical, culinary and industrial use. Xeronine may work at a molecular level to repair damaged cells, including those in skin. Blue Shield's Complementary and Alternative Health credits the fruit with immune-enhancing effects, saying that noni may cause the release of compounds that activate white blood cells.
Herbalists and naturopaths advise noni as an acne remedy due to its perceived antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. There is some scientific laboratory and animal research supporting these beliefs, but human clinical trials are lacking. In a clinical study conducted by R. Usha and colleagues and published in the 2010 issue of "Ethnobotanical Leaflets," researchers found that morinda -- or noni -- extracts had inhibitory effects against E. coli, S. aureus, C. albicans and other common pathogens. In another clinical study, conducted by Simla Basar and colleagues and published in the January, 2010 issue of "Phytotherapy Research," a noni fruit puree worked as well as hydrocortisone in reducing inflammation in arthritic mice.
Dosage and Safety Considerations
To take noni for acne, you can drink it as a juice. Many commercial products have reduced the objectionable odor and taste of noni. Blue Shield recommends 4 ounces of juice a day, 30 minutes before breakfast. Noni is also available in a powdered concentrate form; it is generally safe to take 500 to 1,000 mg a day. Consult your doctor before taking noni. Don't take noni if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.