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Herbs & Botanicals

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Morinda root (ba ji tian)

What is morinda? What is it used for?

Also known as noni, morinda is a wandering plant native to Australia and Malaysia, although it is now used in China, India and other parts of Asia. It resembles a mulberry bush, with large, triangular leaves and green berries.

Although noni berries are becoming increasingly popular, morinda root is still used in most herbal remedies. The root itself is somewhat flat and dull grey in color, and usually 1-2 centimeters in diameter. Good quality morinda root is large, pliable and moist, and has a pungent, sweet taste. Poor quality morinda is small, brittle and tasteless.

Morinda has two main functions in traditional Chinese medicine:

  1. It warms the kidney and strengthens yang. It is used to treat kidney yang deficiency that manifests as certain sexual ailments such as impotence, premature ejaculation, and infertility.

  2. It strengthens the bones and tendons by expelling cold and dampness. Morinda treats liver and kidney dysfunctions characterized by pain at the waist and knees; rheumatism; pain in the joints; and fatigue.

Morinda is often used in conjunction with other herbs such as ginseng, lycium, cuscuta seed, eucommia bark and dipascus to treat the abovementioned conditions.

How much morinda should I take?

The amount of morinda to be taken depends on the condition being treated. Generally, a practitioner will recommend between 6-15 grams of morinda root as part of a decoction.

What forms of morinda are available?

Whole, dried morinda root and morinda powders are readily available. Some stores also sell morinda extracts.

What can happen if I take too much morinda? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Morinda root is generally considered safe. The American Herbal Products Association has given it a class one rating, which means that it is safe when used in recommended dosages. However, it should not be used by patients who have difficulty urinating; in cases of yin deficiency with excessive fire; or in cases of damp heat. There have also been some cases of noni juice, which comes from the berry, causing possible kidney problems. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with morinda. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking morinda root or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Bensky D, Gamble A. Chinese Herbal Medicine. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1986.
  • Bensky D, Gamble A. Chinese Herbal Medicine, Materia Medica. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993.
  • Chin WY, Keng H. Chinese Medicinal Herbs. Sebastapol, CA: CRCS Publications, 1992.
  • McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R (eds.) American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, p. 71.
  • Teeguarden R. Radiant Health: The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs. New York: Warner Books, 1998, pp. 143-44.

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