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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Health Update

Air Date: Week of January 5, 2001

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Transcript

SOLOMON-GREENBAUM: Noni is an evergreen plant that's part of Hawaiian folk medicine. Despite its foul smell and unpleasant flavor, it's used to treat conditions ranging from arthritis to colds and flu. Noni's all been used to treat tuberculosis. And a new study confirms the plant's effectiveness, at least in a test tube. Researchers found that an extract from noni leaves killed almost 90 percent of the bacterium that causes TB. That compares to a 97 percent kill rate for a drug that's commonly used to treat the infection. But the active compounds in noni indicate that the plant uses a different mechanism to kill TB microbes. That's important, because resistance to TB drugs is growing worldwide. So researchers hope the noni plant will provide an alternative way to fight resistant strains. That's this week's health update. I'm Anna Solomon-Greenbaum.

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