By Steven H. Horne
Mangosteen is a tropical fruit, found in Northern Australia, Brazil, Burma, Central America, Hawaii, Southern India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sir Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and other tropical countries. Also known as the “Queen of fruits,” mangosteen is considered a delicious food in Asia and other parts of the world, but has never caught on in North America, although they are canned, frozen and dried for food elsewhere.
The scientific name Garcinia mangostana makes it a relative of Garcinia cambogia, which is found in NSP’s Garcinia Combination, as well as Nutri-Burn and Collatrim Plus. Mangosteen belongs to the family Guttiferae, which is the same botanical family as St. John’s Wort. Although, of course, it has very different properties from these other remedies.
The rind of the mangosteen fruit (or pericarp) is used medicinally. It is dried and shipped to China and where it is used in topical preparations for eczema and other skin conditions. A decoction of the rind is used internally in Chinese medicine as an astringent to stop diarrhea and to treat cystitis. In the Philippines, the leaves and bark are also used as a fever reducing medicine and for thrush, diarrhea and urinary disorders.
Like aloe vera, noni and other popular herbs that have been introduced into the Western materia medica by network marketing, it is sometimes difficult to separate fact from fiction when it comes to understanding the health benefits of mangosteen. After all, just about anything that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, like aloe vera, noni or mangosteen, is going to have some fairly broad-acting health benefits. That’s because of the role that inflammation and oxidative stress plays in disease in general.
There are about 200 xanthone compounds that have been found in nature and they appear to be some very potent antioxidants. The mangosteen pericarp contains a polyhydroxy-xanthone derivative termed mangostin. It also contains another xanthone called beta-mangostin. The fully ripe fruits contain the xanthones: gartanin, 8-desoxygartanin and normangostin.
I understand, although I haven’t verified the data myself, that there are over 1000 scientific papers have been published on the structures, bioactivities, and pharmacological benefits of xanthones. Various xanthones have been reported to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, but other properties xanthones may include the ability to boost energy, reduce pain, stimulate immune responses, help the body fight fungal and bacterial infections, cardiac protective benefits, blood sugar and blood fat reducing effects, weight loss and blood pressure reducing effects. Xanthones may also be anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and anti-allergic. Their antioxidant properties also make them promising for slowing the aging process, helping to prevent dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and gum disease.
Which of these effects specifically apply to the xanthones found in the mangosteen fruit and rind are not fully known. The fact is, however, that everything mentioned in the previous paragraph can be summed up by saying the fruit is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, since oxidative stress and inflammation are at the root of all the other conditions and health problems previously mentioned.
It’s obvious that mangosteen has health benefits, but I always dislike the hype that surrounds the latest “wonder plant,” be it hoodia, or noni or mangosteen. After all, nature has provided us with literally tens of thousands of valuable remedies. It is only commercial “hype” that causes us to single out a few as “cure-alls” and ignore the rest. Besides, just saying mangosteen is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, is saying a lot, especially when you understand the role inflammation plays in the development of chronic and degenerative disease in general.