About the Miracle Fruit

The miracle fruit berry comes from the Synsepalum dulcificum plant, a bush native to West Africa. It was first documented in 1725 by a French explorer who watched local tribes chew the berry before meals, causing their sour foods to taste sweet.

Not until 1964 did the rest of the world take much notice of the miracle berry, when the American Chemical Society declared it an “unexcelled” sweetener, saying, “The quality of the miracle-fruit-induced sweetness is more desirable than any of the known natural or synthetic sweeteners.” The berry’s two-day shelf life stalled its commercial growth until the early 1970’s, when biomedical entrepreneur Bob Harvey developed a method to grow the active ingredient, miraculin, and preserve it in tablet form. He proceeded to formulate sugar-free foods containing miraculin, such as sodas, salad dressings, and popsicles.

Alas, the berry's obstacles were not over. Having conquered the natural limitations of the plant, man decided to impose his own. For reasons that remain unclear, the FDA refused to approve the use of miraculin as a food additive, prohibiting its inclusion in food products and effectively suspending its commercial life in the US as a sweetener.

Today, the miracle fruit is seeing a comeback, and is sold in both berry and tablet form in the US and around the world. It is especially popular in Japan, where researchers are experimenting with adding miracle berry extract to foods, and miracle berry cafés serve the berry as a prelude to sugar-free desserts.1

How does it work?

The active ingredient in miracle fruit is miraculin, a glycoprotein. When a berry is chewed, small sugars attached to the miraculin protein bind to the areas surrounding the tongue’s sweet receptors. The sweet receptors only become activated by these sugars in the presence of acid, which is found in sour foods. In other words, the acid allows you to taste the sweetness of the miraculin on your tongue, which overwhelms the sensation of sourness. The sugars gradually dissipate, and the effect usually wears off within half an hour.1

Miracle Frooties are easy to use: Dissolve one 350mg tablet or half a 600mg tablet on your tongue. The more the tablet coats your tongue, the greater the effect will be, so we like to mash it around on our tongues while dissolving. The effect usually lasts 10-30 minutes, but could last up to an hour depending on what you eat and your body’s unique chemistry.

1 Gollner, Adam (2008). The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce and Obsession. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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