Noni Juice: A Wet Rebuttal

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In our column last Tuesday, we apprised our readers that the National Food Administration in Finland had banned Noni products from being marketed or sold in that country, and that a multi-state assault on Morinda, Inc, its manufacturer, has been set into motion in California, Arizona, New Jersey and Texas, and is expected to spread all throughout the United States.

The following day, Cebu Daily News received an unsigned letter of rebuttal from Cody B. Day, Philippine Area Manager of Morinda Inc., whose offices are in Pasig City, Metro Manila. The letter stated that Tahitian Noni Juice is not marketed as a "miracle cure;" that it is marketed as food supplement, and that any claims made that it is a cure-all are not sanctioned by Morinda Inc. This is a blatant lie! The proof is self-evident, in black and white.

Obviously, Mr. Day has not read the official marketing (dealership-networking) brochure being distributed by his "employer," Morinda Inc.: (Liquid Island Noni---The Tropical Fruit with 101 Medicinal Uses---by Neil Solomon, M.D., Ph.D, a popular Morinda Inc Noni endorser). While Morinda Inc did not use the words "cure-all" or "miracle cure," all its promotional materials, including cassette tapes of testimonials after testimonials, have unmistakable claims or inferences that Noni Juice has beneficial, therapeutic or curative properties against a long list of diseases (at least 24 of them) from athlete's foot to diabetes to high blood pressure to HIV to cancer (page 7 of brochure). If Noni Juice, in fact, has those almost omnipotent powers, then it should be classified as a drug, and not a food supplement as Morinda Inc conveniently claims for marketing and business reasons. And, if Noni Juice is a drug, then it should studied, tested, subjected to very stringent scrutiny and evaluation like other experimental drugs, and be approved first by the FDA or BFAD, under the laws of the United States and the Philippines, before it is allowed to be marketed and sold as a drug in these two countries.

But the transparent fact is, to date, there is no scientific basis whatsoever for any and all of those claims. The one thing that is glaringly obvious, though, is the mind-boggling pricing overkill: a 32-ounce bottle of Noni Juice is being sold at about P2,000. The exorbitant cost alone could adversely affect the consumer's financial health. This highly inflated price is unconscionable, to say the least.

Part of Mr. Day's letter went on to say ".we don't make health claims.," which statement shows only poignantly clear that even he, the Philippine Area Manager of Morinda Inc himself, is in the dark, or is confused, about what "his own" company has been telling the unsuspecting and trusting public all over the world about "Noni's Miraculous Health Benefits" (page 6). We have taken exception and challenged Morinda Inc's unsubstantiated claims on the health benefits and safety of Noni Juice in our column on August 10, 1999 and again in our column last Tuesday. Morinda Inc and its networking distributors and representatives must cease and desist from perpetuating the unproven assertion that Noni is safe, beneficial to health and has curative powers.

Mr. Day, in his rebuttal, also said "No studies conducted to date have demonstrated Morinda citrofolia (Noni) to be inherently toxic to humans." My investigation 6 months ago showed severe paucity in scientific studies on Noni. Morinda Inc could not even send me convincing and legitimate scientific data to support its ridiculous assertions about Noni Juice. What Morinda Inc has to do is to scientifically prove that Noni is safe, because the absence of any studies to the contrary does not mean Noni is not toxic to humans. In science, even the negative has to be positively proven and positive findings negatively challenged to be able to replicate the truth over and over. I hope I am not confusing Mr. Day even more.

I strongly believe that it is Morinda Inc's social and moral, if not legal, obligation to conduct, not only its own private studies on Noni, but to push for adequately extensive multi-institutional university and medical center studies on Morinda citrofolia to get to the truth. The investigation must be legitimately scientific, unbiased, following the standard protocol on drug research and testing, and devoid of any irregular economic incentive for those involved.

In the meantime, Morinda Inc, please give the people a break.

©2003Raoul R. Diez, M.A.O.D.