January 15, 2004

Hey, Noni Noni

Sometimes it feels like Utah Valley is the MLM capital of the world. Perhaps there are other clusters of towns, maybe in the midwest or the south, where tight familial bonds and lots of religious affinity pave the way for Multi-Level Marketing to the point that the MLMs set up worldwide headquarters. Perhaps not.

I hope not. One place like this on earth is puh-lenty, let me tell you.

We've got NuSkin, Neways, and Noni-Juice headquartered here in the valley, but they're just far enough apart that you couldn't take them all out with the same nuke. Especially since, if their various claims are to be believed, those consuming their products will quickly recover from a nuclear strike.

Mostly I've avoided them all. Once in a while a gift basket shows up with some crap or another in it. My favorite was the scented Neways oils. I like scented oils. Granted, I like to PICK the scents, and these were none I would have picked, but it was nice sampling stuff that I MIGHT have liked.

I was at Chalain's last night hammering on some ideas for a Schlock MUD. One of his nephews had a bottle of Noni juice, and I admit that I let my curiousity get the better of me.

First, some background. Apparently a researcher determined that a precursor to an alkaloid he dubbed xeronine (it's got an "x" in it... he's full of himself) critical to some cellular functions in plants, animals, humans, and even multi-level-marketers is found in high concentrations in the Noni plant. Had he been working for Pfizer or Wyeth we might have seen peer research and FDA-approved Xeronine pills. Nope. What we got from him was an endorsement for "all natural" Noni-juice.

The list of things this stuff is supposed to cure reads like the back of a 19th-century bottle of snake-oil: "high blood pressure, menstrual cramps, arthritis, gastric ulcers, sprains, injuries, mental depression, senility, poor digestion, atherosclerosis, blood vessel problems, addiction, relief for pain and many others."

Wow. Sign me up for THAT ride.

I read the ingredients on the bottle. The Morinda brand of Noni has a blend of juices in it, including blueberry and grape, but featuring the amazing Morinda Citrifolia, or Noni. Okay, fine. Fruit juice, with one weird fruit. I'll try it.

First I smelled the bottle. It smelled like all the berries, grapes, and nonis had been lovingly pressed between the butt-cheeks of a 300-pound polynesian man on a strict diet of cheeseburgers.

The taste was about the same.

That was enough for me. Anything that tastes this bad HAS to be good for you, right? I mean, eating your own feces and drinking your own urine are proven remedies for... no, wait. They're not.

Okay... Google-time. Initial search terms included "Noni" and "snake-oil."

I found no peer support for the original Noni-claims, and loads of "if it sounds too good to be true, that's because IT IS" articles. My very favorite article, however, described how Xeronine made a sewage-processing plant less smelly and more productive.

I can only assume that in the volumes they were using they were not paying the $40/bottle price for their sewage additive. And I'm betting the straight xeronine they used was NOT butt-pressed, or their odor problems would have gotten WORSE rather than better.