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Centuries-Old Island Cure

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Supplement: Noni Juice

Faa ná ná “Jerome Grey” • On my native island in Samoa, we use the noni plant, or “nonu” as we call it, for nearly every ailment. It’s a fundamental part of our traditional medicine. I remember using noni juice as a child to stop sinus problems. My mother has arthritis, and the pain can sometimes be pretty bad. The pain disappears if she takes just a couple of teaspoons of noni juice. At 79 years of age, she still walks everywhere.

We also use noni in some of our traditional ceremonies. After they made me chief of my family on the big island (Savaii), I received the tattoo of the Samoan chief.

We are the only people in the world still using the old instruments: needles puncturing the body. We don’t sew in the tattoo like they do in the United States. Because it’s the most painful experience that anyone can go through, the tattoo is reserved for chiefs and really gutsy people.

The pain was so excruciating for me that people had to hold me down during the process. My body was a bloody mess. The tattoo usually takes 26 days to complete. If it were done in one day, the person would bleed to death.

Each day after the tattooing session, people would wrap noni leaves around my body—modern painkillers were not allowed. The leaves soothed the pain and took out the ink poison. As part of the ceremony, I had to sleep on a mat on the hard floor. Noni is the only thing that made sleep possible.

Noni really is an effective painkiller. Recently my American neighbor went to the beach and was badly sunburned. He couldn’t even put on a shirt. He had tried aloe vera and other lotions, but nothing seemed to help until I rubbed some noni juice on the burn.

The noni helped him sleep great that night, and he was able to wear a shirt by the next day. In two days, he was running around like nothing had happened.

He asked me, “What was that stuff?” I told him it was noni juice. He couldn’t believe that something like that had just come out of nowhere—but it hadn’t. In Samoa, we’ve known for centuries that noni helps with everything.

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