Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Shane Ni­chols

THEY are of­fi­cially called mir­a­cle fruit and when it comes to help­ing the taste­buds of cancer pa­tients, that’s pretty much what these red ber­ries are.

They won’t pre­vent or cure cancer but they are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly recog­nised as a use­ful aid to im­prove the sen­sa­tion of taste among peo­ple whose taste­buds have taken a pound­ing from ra­di­a­tion ther­apy.

It’s not un­com­mon for pa­tients to “go off” food when they have cancer treat­ment, due to a metal­lic taste in their mouth – but less nu­tri­tion can be an­other prob­lem it­self when the sick can least af­ford it.

But mir­a­cle fruit (Synsephalum dul­ci­fi­cum) are be­ing hailed as a tem­po­rary friend of the taste­buds, by tak­ing away the metal­lic taste and al­low­ing the proper taste of food to come through.

You only need to taste one berry for up to a two-hour ef­fect.

The news about these ber­ries -- which grow very read­ily in the trop­ics -- took a step up this week with pub­li­ca­tion of a very lauda­tory ar­ti­cle in the Mi­ami Herald and the Chicago Tri­bune about the Mir­a­cle Fruit Farm in Florida which has been sup­ply­ing the ber­ries free to cancer pa­tients since 1972.

Now the de­mand is so great they have had to move to com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion.

The good news for Far North Queens­land is that the ber­ries’ taste char­ac­ter­is­tics have been known about for years.

Di­wan or­chardists Chris Beck­with and Karen Pereira have mir­a­cle fruit on their prop­erty but only re­cently be­came aware of the fruit’s use­ful­ness.

This week they cryo-vacced a small ship­ment of mir­a­cle fruit to send to a friend in Syd­ney who has cancer.

Now they are keen to get the mes­sage out there that the red berry has these very use­ful prop­er­ties.

“It’s not a busi­ness for us,” said Chris Beck­with.

“We just want peo­ple to know about these ber­ries and for them to be­come avail­able to the peo­ple who re­ally need them.

“Peo­ple in the Dain­tree have been giv­ing them out to tourists for years as a bit of a nov­elty but it turns out there’s a much bet­ter pur­pose for them than that.”

Di­wan or­chardists Karen Pereira and part­ner Chris Beck­with, with mir­a­cle fruit grown on their farm

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