As we jumpstart our Wellness Wednesday with focus on natural healing from nature, we’re going to be highlighting vegetation that I grew up around. If you don’t know by now, I was born and raised on the most beautiful island (yes, I’m very partial 😉), St.Croix US Virgin Islands. As a child I lacked the understanding of being raised in such a place where the land provided the sustenance of optimal health because it was common. Different seasons yielded different fruits, which meant your body received a well rounded boost of nourishment for every biological need at just the right time. Then there were some trees that seemed to yield fruit year round. It still amazes me how the earth knows what to birth in season and when to rest in order to regroup. You can learn so much from nature.
We’ll begin this series exploring the noni tree. The Morinda citrifolia is a fruit-bearing tree from the coffee family and native to Southeast Asia and Australasia. This tree yields an oval-shaped fruit, greenish-yellow in color, carries a distinct sharp unpleasant odor - especially when it over ripens, and has a bitter taste. I grew up knowing it as the “ugly fruit” and it grows just about everywhere. The tree itself has beautiful full green leaves that hold healing in themselves.
This isn’t a fruit that is commonly eaten, however its nutritional benefits are worth mentioning in terms of juicing. The juice contains 34 mg of vitamin C per 100g, niacin, iron, potassium, phytochemicals, flavonoids, alkaloids (all of which help fight infection), improves joint and bone health, repairs damaged cells, helps with weight management, and increases immune activity. You can mix the juice with pineapple or apple juice to help with the taste.
The noni leaves also have medicinal properties. They contain flavanoids, proteins, saponin and tannins. They are rich in vitamin A, B, C, D and E, have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antifungal and anti-oxidant benefits, and may help improve digestion. The leaves are commonly dried and used as tea, which has a pleasant mild green tea and cocoa-like flavor. They are also cooked in various Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. My most fondest memory is watching my grandmother pick a couple leaves from her tree, apply heat to them using her gas stove burner, and wrap her knee in the leaves overnight to alleviate the inflammation and arthritic pain she was experiencing. The next morning her knee was like new.
There are sooooo many trees, herbs and fruit we could discuss in this series from bush tea to jojo’s. If you are ever in St. Croix be sure to catch a tour that explores the islands culture, nature and resources. And while there, or any tropical place, if you see a noni fruit try it out for yourself.