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Is Noni or Mangosteen Juice Safe?

Another case report of acute toxicity linked to noni juice ingestion, this time in a 14 year old. At least his liver didn’t fail completely like in two of the earlier cases. What do you expect from a product also known as “vomit fruit”? The multi-level marketing company that sells noni products blamed the aloe vera juice that the boy had also consumed, which is indeed something else I’d encourage folks not to drink. But what about all the scientific studies promoting these types of products bandied about on their websites?

Recently, a public health researcher published a review called “Science in Liquid Dietary Supplement Promotion,” evidently a $23 billion dollar market. Quoting from the paper: “Central to the marketing of many such products is the citation of ’scientific studies’ supporting the product’s health claims. While these studies seem deliberately created for marketing purposes, their findings and quality are generally presented in a manner that appears designed to mislead potential consumers.”

In the paper the researcher uses the case of mangosteen juice—another product I’ve warned about in the past—as an example of how widely marketed and consumed liquid dietary supplements use exaggeration and pseudoscience to bolster their web promotions of product effectiveness and safety.

The multilevel marketing company that sells mangosteen cited a study they paid for to support its assertion that their product is “shown to be safe at all dosages tested” and indeed “safe for everyone.” The study involved exposing just 30 people to their product, though, with another 10 given placebo. As the researcher notes in the above video, with that few people exposed, the stuff could kill 1 or 2% of people and you’d never even know.

For more on these two liquid supplements, check out my videos Is Noni Juice Good for You? and Is Mangosteen Juice Good for You?

Noni and mangosteen juice aren’t the only supplements “proven safe” by dubious research. A study of the multi-level marketing supplement Metabolife had 35 people on the stuff and they seemed to do just fine.  Later, though, it had to be withdrawn from the market after being linked to 18 heart attacks, 26 strokes, 43 seizures and 5 deaths. Oops.

Hydroxycut was studied on 40 people. No serious adverse effects in the study, but later the same thing: withdrawn after dozens of cases of organ damage including massive hepatic necrosis requiring liver transplants and death.

And oftentimes the multilevel marketing study researchers don’t disclose their funding sources, pretending to be objective scientists, but a little detective work exposed a whole web of financial conflicts of interest, “at best reducing the face-validity of findings, and at worst [they] represent deception.”

Other beverages that might be good to avoid include alcohol (Breast Cancer and Alcohol: How Much Is Safe?), soft drinks (Is Sodium Benzoate Harmful?), yerba maté (Update on Yerba Maté), and kombucha (Is Kombucha Tea Good for You?).

I prefer water (Does a Drink of Water Make Children Smarter?), white tea (Antimutagenic Activity of Green Versus White Tea), and hibiscus tea (Better Than Green Tea?).

Other cautionary tales about supplements can be found in:

Friday I’ll offer another update on spirulina with Infant Seizures Linked to Mother’s Spirulina Use.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death and More Than an Apple a Day.

Related:
Is Carrageenan Safe?
Is Coconut Oil Good For You?
Is There a Safe, Low-Calorie Sweetener?

Read more: Health, Diet & Nutrition, Drugs, Eating for Health, General Health, Videos, , , ,

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Dr. Michael Greger

A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. Currently Dr. Greger serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. Hundreds of his nutrition videos are freely available at NutritionFacts.org.

67 comments

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2:25AM PST on Feb 13, 2014

Never heard of them.

5:22AM PST on Jan 17, 2014

It was suggested by a raw vegan group I was in to use Noni Juice as a replacement for cheese. It is vile tasting and very expensive. No I have better choices no matter what the group recommended.

7:58PM PST on Dec 8, 2013

Thank you.

8:42AM PST on Dec 2, 2013

Why would you drink this?

9:07AM PST on Nov 25, 2013

I have tried both noni juice and mangosteen juice. I will keep this in mind.

8:03AM PST on Nov 23, 2013

ty for sharing this info, will keep it in mind

2:32AM PST on Nov 22, 2013

Noted

10:45AM PST on Nov 20, 2013

Why would ANYONE in his (or her) right mind want to drink something made from a fruit that is nicknamed "vomit fruit"?

7:23PM PST on Nov 17, 2013

I have taken Noni juice for about 17 years...and find that when I do not take it, my hands ache. I only drink 1 oz daily and several times a year I skip for 2 wks.

1:27PM PST on Nov 16, 2013

Let's be honest. Over consumption of ANYTHING can be fatal. You can die from over consumption of WATER. This entire article is one big moot point.

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