What's Behind It All?
The Miracle Fruit Plant (Sideroxylon dulcificum / Synsepalun dulificum), sometimes known as the Miracle Berry / Miracle Berries, Mysterious Berry, or even the Flavour Berry is a plant native to the wet tropical lowlands of West Africa.
The plant was first documented by explorer Chevalier des Marchais during a 1725 excursion of West Africa. At this time Marchais witnessed indigenous tribes picking the miracle berry, and chewing them before meals. In its native habitat the plant can grow to an astounding height of 20-feet, but in cultivation it’s rarely known to reach 10 feet. The evergreen plant produces two crops of small red miracle berries per year, with white flowers that are produced for many months.
The Miracle berry is flavourless, but contains an active glycoprotein molecule, with miraculin, which causes the effect. When the fleshy part of the miracle berries are eaten, the molecule binds to the tongue's taste buds causing, bitter and sour foods to taste sweet. The effect is known to last thirty minutes to an hour and in some rare cases up to two hours. Miracle fruit should not be mistaken as a sweetener, since its effects depend on what is eaten afterwards.
Miracle fruit can be very beneficial health wise. Many times the fruit has been used to help chemotherapy patients that had lost appetites due to the general flavour the medicine leaves in patients mouths. The fruit has also been used to create foods that diabetics can enjoy without the added sugar. (None of these statements have been approved by the FDA, but have been by the Japanese Administration which is comparable in testing)
Later in the 1970s the effort to commercialize the fruits abilities ended in a controversial failure, where accusations were made that the project was sabotaged by the sugar industry to prevent loss of business. The FDA has denied that pressure was put on it by the sugar industry, but also refused to release any files on the subject.
The fruit was shunned from public eye, but since 2007 many growers including the Miracle Fruit Hut company have been putting up a strong fight to regain attention for the literally miraculous fruit.
Further readings, can be found below:
An Informative Video Interview On the Miracle Fruit Courtesy of Democracy Now.