The mangosteen, for a while there, became a faddish little fruit that everyone with a small business tried to exploit. While touting this funny little fruit for its motherlode of nutrition, they created drinks that were mostly sugar and water. You’d have to drink two gallons to get any significant amount of its benefits, but isn’t that just like a human animal raised in a capitalistic society? We’re compelled to capitalize on stuff.
I found one site not only warning us of fad drinks made from mangosteen, they also described a scenario in which benzene gets created in the bottles, but again, this site didn’t really count on (or provide) many references to actual scientific studies: Health Report – Mangosteen Juice Review – Supplement Benefits and Risks.
The Mangosteen fruit comes from a small, tropical evergreen. If you’re from the northern climates of the US, an evergreen means something different to you. From the tropical areas, an evergreen is simply any tree that keeps its leaves all year long. Its original home is on the south side of Asia.
When this funny little fruit was discovered to be profitable, people all over the world tried to grow it. Florida seems to be the only place in the continental United States that has succeeded, although you can find one or two growing in your local, tropical conservatories.
Take a look at the picture. The white part inside is the actual fruit, and inside that are the seeds. The pericarp is the red, mushy area beneath the tough skin. It’s slightly bitter, though I found one description saying it’s inedible. I’ve been eating it for two weeks, so I tend to disagree. Oh, by the way, it’s the pericarp and the seeds where most of its nutrition resides, which have been used for centuries medicinally.
Sure, you can get all sorts of good stuff from eating the white part, the fruit. But, you won’t get a tenth of the nutrition found in the pericarp (and seeds). And, boys and girls, the pericarp is the part that’s been used mostly in the hundreds of studies conducted on this fruit.
The two most salient features of this fruit are that it is both hypoglycemic and anti-inflammatory. These two health benefits are perfect for people who suffer from metabolic disorders, inflammatory disorders, and cardiovascular diseases. They’re also very powerful preventives.
When I research, I like to read everything I find, or at least skim everything I find. There’s that site I pointed out above that listed all the great benefits from mangosteen without one scientific reference. I was almost expecting to hear the words, “Believe me.”
The thing is, when you do this, you leave yourself open to being called a quack, because the skeptics of the world want scientific proof. However, what skeptics really want is to be right and your facts are no good them because they have their own, it would seem.
For the rest of you, I’ll present the science behind the claims.
All over PubMed are studies of mangosteen and its anti-inflammatory properties. (However, long before there was scientific proof, there were a couple thousand years of medicinal use in Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, etc.)
In a clinical study, mangosteen juice exhibited potential anti-inflammatory potential. Udani et al (2009) conducted an 8 week randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial with 40 subjects and a proprietary mangosteen juice blend (XanGo Juice, 18oz per day) was fed. Interestingly, they found that, XanGo juice significantly reduced c-reactive protein (CRP) levels in humans compared to those taking placebo (Udani et al, 2009). [Ref]
This article, per usual, first points out that more studies are needed, and then went onto delineate the mangosteen’s phytochemicals inhibiting inflammatory cytokine production (such as IL-10) and inhibiting the expression of (the stimulation of) pro-inflammatory genes, as well as inhibiting the release of inflammatory prostaglandins.
And would you like to know a perfectly wonderful side effect to all this? Weight control. When treated with mangosteen, people lose weight.
Anti-oxidants are cooling. Thus they are also anti-inflammatory. The mangosteen has a host of antioxidants: tannins (phenolic compounds) and xanthones. In fact, mangosteen contains a very rare xanthone. After hours of searching to find out how rare this particular xanthone was, I finally figured out that it’s found only in the mangosteen. So it’s that rare.
Sugar is inflammatory. Insulin is anti-inflammatory. When something helps with glucose (sugar) uptake, it’s keeping down inflammation. When something slows the process by which sugars are broken down into glucose, this also keep down inflammation because it slows the process whereby glucose gets into the blood stream.
The pericarp of mangosteen contains “alpha-glucosidase inhibitors” that slow down the processes that get glucose into your blood stream.
Taken with the first bite of a meal, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors are especially well-suited to treat postprandial hyperglycemia (a sharp rise in blood sugar after meals), a common and serious problem faced by many people with Type 2 diabetes. [Ref]
It goes onto say:
Slowing the absorption of carbohydrate gives the beta cells in the pancreas more time to secrete adequate insulin to cover the meal.
In a review of studies on the mangosteen, we found this conclusion:
Based on these studies, mangosteen and its xanthones have good potential to design human studies for controlling and modification of metabolic syndrome and its related disorders such as obesity, disrupted lipid profile, diabetes and its complications. [Review of Garcinia mangostana and its Xanthones in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Complications]
And there are more studies that came to the same conclusion. Here’s just one: Hypoglycaemic activity of ethanolic extract of Garcinia mangostana Linn. in normoglycaemic and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats
This particular review (Review of Garcinia mangostana and its Xanthones in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Complications) referenced a good number of studies on mangosteen.
While working toward its conclusion, the review pointed out that the mangosteen fruit was protective against cardiovascular illness caused by obesity and high blood pressure.
Even in a study where rats were induced to get arthritis, a regimen of mangosteen pericarp cooled down the inflammation and fought off the arthritis. [Ref]
And then lastly we discovered that the xanthones in the mangosteen were also antibacterial. [Antibacterial activity of xanthones from Garcinia mangostana (L.) and their structure-activity relationship studies.]
Now this is something. There are nutritional supplements out there with extracts of the mangosteen pericarp. People buy them and take them and good for them because the isoprenylated xanthones in the extracts (in no particular order) have been shown to be antioxidant, antinociceptive (relieves pain), anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, hypoglycemic, anti-obesity, and pro-apoptotic (causes cancer cells to die), anti-proliferative (keeps cancer cells from spreading). [Medicinal properties of mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana L.): A comprehensive update.] However, instead of taking supplements, adding mangosteen pericarp to your recipes is cheaper and easier, and let’s face it. Our food should be our medicine.
This little piece cannot possibly do this fruit much justice because we’ve left out all traditional uses of the plant, traditional uses that are over 2,000 years old.
Here is a quick re-cap of all the benefits from the pericarp that are backed by both traditional use and by studies:
In our medicine today, we’re lucky if a drug stays in use over 10 years.
The Mangosteen Pericarp is charged with super nutrition and, though more studies are needed (and will probably never happen) we already know we’ve got something to treat diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. No one will spend much money on mangosteen studies and cancer because we already know the cancer industry won’t allow some fruit to compete with their drugs.
And like we mentioned above, you can go online to buy capsules of this mangosteend extract, but you should know that you’ll be paying upwards of $2.70 cents per ounce (plus shipping and handling).
Or you can let your food be your medicine.
This morning I had French Toast covered with maple syrup. I had a bit of mangosteen pericarp, but not in pill form. I made up the batter with two teaspoons of mangosteen pericarp powder.
As proclaimed above, from a scientific study: “Taken with the first bite of a meal . . . .” yada yada yada.
It’s nearly tasteless. Maybe slightly bitter. You could not taste it in the French Toast. (Click to see the recipe.)
So, we here at Wellness Journeys, over the next couple of months, are going to experiment and use it in as many of our recipes as possible and see what happens.
The French Toast this morning looked chocolaty, but was not. Most important, the French Toast tasted like French Toast.
So stick around. We’ll update you on our experiments. This is something that we need in our diets.
Oh, and last week we added it to one of our tastiest and healthiest vinaigrettes. You can find the recipe here: Blueberry Pomegranate Beet & Mangosteen Vinaigrette.
I am currently helping Simply the Best to get this into their inventory.
Right now we’re working on the size of containers and shipping costs.
The Post Office recently raised their rates.