Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a fruit found on a tropical evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia, especially Thailand. The tree grows from 20 to 70 feet high. After 15 years, it produces a green fruit that changes to a dark purple as it ripens.The edible portion is approximately the size and shape of a small tangerine and is reportedly quite flavorful. It's surrounded by a thick, fibrous hull that, along with the seeds, contains most of the beneficial phytochemicals. Mangosteen has a long history of folk medicine use in Southeast Asia.
Nutritionally, mangosteen only contains a trace amount of vitamins and minerals. However, it is rich in phytochemicals including dozens from the xanthone family. It also contains a number of polysaccharides that combine as a source of antioxidants.
The health claims for mangosteen include antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anticancer, anti-arrhythmic, and antimalarial properties. Various mangosteen extracts have stopped the proliferation and, in some cases, even killed various cell lines of liver cancer, breast cancer and leukemia. In late 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned some of the major companies marketing mangosteen that it is unfair to make claims for humans without research on humans. I did find studies that showed mangosteen extract has the ability to reduce blood pressure in anesthetized rats, reduce blood sugar in diabetic rats, inhibit COX-2 enzymes in the glioma cells of rats, reduce histamine reactions in aorta cells of rabbits, and act as a serotonin antagonist in intracerebral ventricular cells extracted from mice.
Mangosteen is available as a juice, a concentrated, frozen puree and in capsules. In all three cases, processing includes the non-edible nutrient-dense seed and hulls. It's unfortunate that companies which market mangosteen base their claims on laboratory studies of rodents and/or their cells. Human research is essentially nonexistent. In my opinion, I believe those making large amounts of income based on (unproven) health claims are in no hurry to fund studies from independent groups.
To view Parts 1 and 2 of this series, visit www.chiroweb.com/archives/26/06/02.html and www.chiroweb.com/archives/26/08/02.html, respectively. I am looking forward to writing an evidence-based article someday that confirms any of the claims regarding the health benefits of mangosteen, acai, goji or noni.
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