Have you tripped-out on a miracle fruit pill? A”trip” is when you allow a miracle fruit pill to dissolve on your tongue and then sit around and eat sour pickles, limes, or Hot Tamales candy. (Don’t try it… you’ll end up getting acid reflux anyway!)
Don’t be shocked; miracle fruit is not illegal, nor is it a drug (not yet). It is an actual berry — Synsepalum dulcificum — that is native to West Africa and, very simply, it makes everything you eat or drink for a period of time taste sweet — lemons, peppers, chicken, steak — everything, you name it. It’s the miraculum in the berry that makes everything taste sweet.
But miracle fruit is not just a recreational trip. Many in south Florida, where some entrepreneurs are growing and selling the fruit in whole or pill form, have been using it to help take bad tasting medicines or nutritional supplements. Boomers might consider buying some miracle fruit before we swallow our barium or Miralax®.
Medical and nutrition researchers are now getting involved in the study of miracle fruit to restore appetite in cancer patients and as an aid to those on special diets, like obese persons and diabetics. Cancer patients on chemotherapy have a difficult time keeping up their weight and satisfying nutritional needs because of a constant metallic taste in their mouths. Several chemotherapy patients have reported successful use of the berries and have returned to their normal weights. But the effects have not yet been subjected to scientific research.
Dr. Mike Cusnir, oncologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center, is interested in researching the effects of miracle fruit on the appetites of chemotherapy patients and has applied to the FDA for an investigational new drug application, which is required for use of a new therapy for patients. One hopes a successful outcome doesn’t mean that miracle fruit becomes a prescription drug; it is now categorized by the FDA as a food additive.
Dr. Cusnir is looking for 40 cancer patients to participate in his study.
As for dieticians and nutritionists, they are not considering the miracle fruit as a weight loss solution, but as a method to accustom obese and diabetic persons while they adjust to major sugar and fat restrictions in their diets. Let’s face it, cottage cheese and cucumbers are not as tasty as crême brulée and truffles.