Mangosteen is the purple fruit of the Garcinia mangostana, a tree native to Southeast Asia. They are in no way related to mangoes, no matter how similar their names are. This fruit is prized not really for its taste– as there really is nothing special about its sweet and tangy flavor—but for its health benefits.
In traditional Asian medicine, the rind of the mangosteen fruit is dried and crumbled into powder which is then used as a cure for dystentery, skin disorders and urinary problems in the olden days. Nowadays, if you would read the myriad of ads about mangosteen supplements, you would think mangosteen is a panacea, for all the many therapeutic claims they present. I want to wade through the hype and find some sensible and scientific facts about mangosteen.
Xanthones and Antioxidants
The rage about mangosteen is due to its xanthone component. Xanthone is a compound which shows antioxidant and anti-tumor activities in vitro (in test tubes). Xanthones also showed anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antimicrobial effects, among others. These xanthones are said to be responsible for the long list of health benefits associated with mangosteen.
Xanthones are bioflavonoid-like substances and are rarely found in nature. In fact, there are only two families of plants which bear these super antioxidants. There are about 200 xanthones which naturally occur in nature and 40 of these are locked up in mangosteen. There are two types of xanthones present in mangosteen—alpha mangostin and gamma mangostin.
Mangosteen is also rich in a host of other health-promoting compounds such as sterols, polysaccharides and catechins. Some say the combined action of xanthones and the other antioxidant compounds make mangosteen an extra-powerful health supplement.
Side Effects, Overdosage and Drug Interactions
It is not wise to take mangosteen supplements freely as there is a reported risk of blood clotting abnormalities associated with overdosage. It may also cause sedation when combined with certain herbs and medications.
Furthermore, the scientific studies involving mangosteen are still in the early stage, which means the health claims being touted by mangosteen supplements are still largely unverified. There are no human clinical trials just yet, only in vitro (test tubes) and in vivo (involving laboratory animals) tests.
Probably the most amazing test tube trial making use of mangosteen is that done in Thailand. Researchers at Mahidol University in Thailand found that the extract of mangosteen pericarp was able to kill SKBR3 breast cancer cells.
Another noteworthy test is a Belgian study which showed that a xanthone mangostin isolate inhibited the replication cycle of the HIV virus in an AIDS patient.
Another Japanese study demonstrated the ability of xanthone compounds to destroy leukemia cancer cells.
For more laboratory research findings about mangosteen fruit, extract or isolates, go to PubMed and search for mangosteen.
It is safer to eat fresh mangosteen fruits rather than take xanthone extract supplements as the correct dosage is not yet determined. This is also my opinion regarding graviola, another much-hyped anti-cancer fruit.
I might consider taking mangosteen rind capsule or mangosteen rind tea if I trust the manufacturing company. Powderized rind is not xanthone extract and is less likely to cause overdosage.
Have you had any amazing experience with mangosteen fruits or supplements? I would like to hear real-life experiences about the many claims of mangosteen.