What is mangosteen?
The scientific name of mangosteen is Garcinia mangostana and it belongs to the Clusiaceae family. It is a tropical tree that originates in Southeast Asia. The tree is thick and its leaves are glossy, large, and dark green in color. Its flowers are rose-pink in color. The fruit is sweet, small, and white-colored. The fruit is round in shape with flattened ends. When ripened, the fruit becomes deep purple.
The rind of the fruit is thick, hard, and deep-red, but its surrounding flesh is colored white. The tree is slow growing and reaches a height of 31 feet. In a season, the tree can yield more than 1,000 fruits. The fruit tastes similar to lychee but is sweeter and more delicate.
100 grams of mangosteen provides:
- 15.6 g carbohydrates
- 0.4 g fat
- 0.5 g protein
- 5.1 g fiber
- 7.2 mg vitamin C
- 0.36 mg iron
- 10 mg calcium
Xanthones in Mangosteen
The immune system protects the body from various toxins, free radicals, bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other harmful agents. When the immune system gets overwhelmed, the body may get damaged due to free radicals. Since free radicals are unstable, they steal electrons from stable atoms and causes irreparable damage to the stable atom, which increases the likelihood of diseases.
These free radicals can be counteracted by xanthones. Antioxidants can prevent the damage caused by free radicals. Mangosteen contains the powerful antioxidant called xanthone, which is a natural chemical compound that has a variety of medicinal values.
Also, other natural compounds such as polysaccharides, stilbenes, polyphenols, and quinones are present in mangosteen. Polysaccharides have anticancer and antibacterial properties. They prevent the spread of cancer by blocking the ability of mutated cells to stick to healthy cells. Catechins are more potent than the antioxidant vitamin C. Stilbenes provide protection against fungi. These compounds possess antifungal properties and are also potent antioxidants. Quinones are also powerful antioxidants that possess antibacterial properties. Polyphenols are more potent as antioxidants.
1. Anticancer Properties
The anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties are exhibited by the pericarp of the mangosteen. The pericarp and the fruit wall contain 20 known xanthones. In human colon cancer, these xanthones inhibit the growth of cancer cells. According to a research study, to prevent cancer, these xanthones can be developed as agents. For beneficial effects, they can also be used along with other anticancer drugs.
Studies have shown positive results of mangosteen as a cancer-fighting food. Hence, it has been the focus of many studies. In Japan, the Gifu International Institute of Biotechnology showed that one particular xanthone in mangosteen called alpha-Mangostin has a cancer-preventive effect on animal subjects. Also, the anticancer effect of alpha-Mangostin on human breast cancer cells was indicated by another study in the International Journal of Oncology. The study showed that alpha-Mangostin would induce programmed cell death of cancer cells. Hence, mangosteen can be used as a potential therapeutic compound for breast cancer. Hence it was concluded that xanthone can be used as an agent or in combination with other therapies for cancer treatment.
Also, the anticancer effect of alpha-Mangostin on human breast cancer cells was indicated by another study in the International Journal of Oncology. The study showed that alpha-Mangostin would induce programmed cell death of cancer cells. Hence, mangosteen can be used as a potential therapeutic compound for breast cancer. It was concluded that xanthone can be used as an agent or in combination with other therapies for cancer treatment. Another study in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed the anti-colon cancer effects of xanthone in vitro and in vivo.
2. Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Allergic Properties
Since many years, mangosteen has been used as an anti-inflammatory agent. According to a research study, mangosteen extracts have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties. Histamine and prostaglandin, which are associated with inflammation, can be inhibited with the help of mangosteen extracts. The xanthone in mangosteen has been used as an anti-inflammatory agent, which is helpful in the following ways:
- Reduces cell growth in leukemia
- Reduces the negative effects on patients with Alzheimer's disease
- Has a therapeutic effect on allergy-induced asthma
- Reduces the risk of diabetes, cardiac problems, and obesity
- Helps induce programmed cell death
Studies have shown that pro-allergy prostaglandin could be inhibited by mangosteen extracts. They work better than the anti-allergy drugs used in Japan. The anti-inflammatory effects have been shown by two specific bioactive substances called alpha and gamma-mangostin found in mangosteen.
3. Healthy Skin
Mangosteen possesses antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. These properties help in reducing health issues such as skin aging, allergies, skin inflammation, eczema, and bacterial infections. Research has revealed that mangosteen has the potential of being an anti-skin cancer agent since it has anti-skin cancer properties.
Most types of skin cancer are resistant to chemotherapy. It has been shown that mangosteen can naturally fight against skin cancer. A study that was published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology analyzed the anti-cancer properties of mangosteen extract on skin cell carcinoma and melanoma. Strong anti-cancer effects were exhibited on both cancer cell lines of the skin. These results showed that mangosteen extracts have the potential to naturally treat skin cancer.
The xanthones of the pericarp and the leaf of mangosteen possess pharmacological properties. They have shown the ability to control division and growth of cancer cells, inflammation, programmed cell death, and cancer metastasis. The effects of xanthone in mangosteen have shown in the different stages of cancer formation such as initiation, promotion, and progression.
4. Improves Acne
A study in Thailand has revealed that mangosteen has a very strong and powerful antioxidant activity that can reduce the production of reactive oxygen species, which contribute to acne formation. It was revealed that mangosteen is able to scavenge free radicals and suppresses the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines that causes acne.
5. Healthy Immune System
Mangosteen boosts the immune system. Various nutrients such as minerals, vitamins and xanthone protect the body from health conditions that can weaken the immune system. They scavenge free radicals that are harmful and pro-inflammatory.
6. Antioxidant Properties
Mangosteen contains powerful antioxidants. They boost the immune system and the whole-body system. For this reason, mangosteen is regarded as a "healing fruit". It contains xanthones, which has a strong medicinal value.
7. Promotes a Healthy Heart and Regulates Blood Pressure
The imbalance due to free radical production and the ability to counteract their toxic effects causes oxidative stress. These two factors play an important role in heart attacks, where there are increased oxidative stress and few antioxidants in the body. At the University of Madras in India, the cardioprotective effect of alpha-mangostin on animal subjects was conducted. The positive results showed that xanthones may help reduce the risk of heart attacks since they have a powerful antioxidant activity. The magnesium content of mangosteen can help maintain normal blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
8. Medicinal Value
Mangosteen has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It hastens the process of wound healing and is also used as a medicinal drink. A medicinal mangosteen drink can be prepared by boiling the bark and the leaves of the tree. For faster recovery of wounds, the leaves and the bark of the tree can be combined with other medicinal herbs.
9. Improves Digestion
Constipation and digestive distress can be prevented with the help of mangosteen since it contains high-fiber content. Consuming fiber through mangosteen also increases your consumption of prebiotics, thereby helping probiotics to flourish in the gut. Thus, when the digestive system is taken care of, the entire body’s health is maintained.
10. Diarrhea and Dysentery
Mangosteen provides relief from gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and dysentery. The pericarp of mangosteen is very useful in providing gastrointestinal relief. The strong antioxidants and tannin present in mangosteen both contribute in treating diarrhea and dysentery. Mangosteen has also been used in many traditional medicines. Studies have also shown the effectiveness of mangosteen in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
11. Fights Tuberculosis
The symptoms of tuberculosis include persistent coughing, weight loss, fever, blood in sputum, and night sweats. Antibiotics are needed for its treatment and recovery, but mangosteen enhances the recovery process. The antibacterial properties of mangosteen help inhibit the progression of certain infections.
12. Menstrual Problems
Even the roots of mangosteen are effective and beneficial. In women, mangosteen roots can help regulate their menstrual cycle.
13. Astringent Properties
The bark and leaves of mangosteen are effective in curing oral thrush or aphtha since they exhibit astringent properties.
14. Cardioprotective Effect
The cardioprotective effect of mangosteen on lipid peroxidation during stroke and on antioxidant tissue defense system have been indicated in a study. Mangosteen may reduce the likelihood of stroke or myocardial infarction.
15. Improves Eyesight
Mangosteen is rich in vitamin A and vitamin C, which help protect the lens of the eyes, fight free radicals, and help in the healing process of eye wounds. These vitamins also improve the quality of eyesight and decrease the chances of night blindness. Moreover, they reduce the risk of developing cataracts by increasing the flow of blood to the eyes.
16. Healthy Pregnancy
Mangosteen contains manganese, which promotes healthy bone development in babies. Vitamin C boosts the immune system of the mother and her baby. Folate reduces the risk of birth defects. Aside from these vitamins and nutrients, mangosteen's powerful antioxidant properties may help lower the risk of miscarriages and oxidative stress. Although moderate intake of mangosteen is beneficial, it is still better to consult your doctor first before consumption.
Nowadays, diabetes has become a very common ailment. This medical condition can be managed with the help of prescribed medications. However, mangosteen is also effective in managing blood sugar levels. It is considered as one of the natural remedies for diabetes. Alpha-amylase is an enzyme that causes starch to break down into glucose.
Mangosteen has shown to inhibit the activity of this enzyme, and thus, maintain normal blood sugar levels. Acarbose is a prescription drug. It is prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes symptoms. The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry had published a study, which showed that mangosteen possesses compounds that were also found in acarbose.
The tannic acid and the oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes present in mangosteen also lowers the blood sugar level. OPCs are also found in other fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, bark, and flowers. They are naturally occurring metabolites. Aside from controlling blood sugar levels, they are also known for their antioxidant effects. OPCs also possess antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, anti-allergic, and vasodilatory properties.
Mangosteen also reduces cholesterol levels in the blood and reduces the risk of diabetes by preventing weight gain. It also decreases insulin resistance, and thus, able to fight against diabetes.
18. Glowing Skin
Mangosteen reduces acne breakouts and other skin blemishes. It helps tighten the skin, treats skin disorders, reduces dark circles, and improves the overall quality of the skin.
19. Oral Health
Mangosteen has been used in medications to cure gum problems and gum bleeding. It is also used in mouthwashes.
20. Weight Loss
Diet and exercise for weight loss may not work for every individual. Weight loss can be achieved by making mangosteen a part of one's diet. Also, the nutrients in it promote good health. The consumption of mangosteen makes you feel full, which enables you to eat less food. The reason behind it is that mangosteen has a high water content and is rich in fiber. Fiber takes time to get digested, so the person does not feel hungry soon. Moreover, mangosteen can help you avoid weight gain by restricting the activities of pancreatic lipase and alpha-amylase.
- The fruit's rind is used for tanning leather in China for commercial purposes.
- The tree twigs of mangosteen in Ghana is used as chew sticks.
- The wood from mangosteen trees can be used for furniture-making.
- Aside from furniture, the wood has also been used for making rice pounders and handles for spears.