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Saturday, March 24, 2012

WHAT DOES MANGOSTEEN DO TO YOUR BODY?

 
What Does Mangosteen Do to Your Body?
Photo Credit mangosteen image by Ferli from Fotolia.com
Mangosteen, a tropical fruit, has gone from being relatively little-known in the United States to gaining popularity as a dietary health supplement. Drugs.com reports that sales of mangosteen juice were estimated at $98 million in 2007. Mangosteen fruit and mangosteen juice -- packed with antioxidants, flavonoids, xanthones and assorted vitamins and minerals -- can provide health benefits. However, mangosteen can interact with prescription medications; consult your doctor before using it.

Features

Mangosteen -- also called mangostan, xango and "queen of tropical fruit" -- comes from the plant botanically known as Garcinia mangostana, an evergreen tropical shrub native to southeast Asia. Mangosteen is dark purple when ripe, with a segmented inner pulp of sweet, fragrant white fruit. Traditionally used in Thai and Chinese folk medicine for treating skin conditions, wounds, fever and dysentery, mangosteen is currently promoted in the United States to support a healthy immune system, increase joint flexibility and promote well-being. Some manufacturers have made extravagant claims for mangosteen juice, including the ability to treat cancer. The American Cancer Society notes that although preliminary research has been promising, clinical studies on humans supporting mangosteen's chemoprotective effects are lacking.

Constituents and Effects

Mangosteen fruit is rich in xanthones, polyphenolic compounds that are potent antioxidants. Antioxidants scavenge harmful free radicals in the body, preventing damage to tissues and possibly helping slow down aging and prevent diseases. Drugs.com -- which provides peer-reviewed medical information to consumers -- states that mangosteen contains 50 of the 200 known xanthones. It is the xanthones in mangosteen that are responsible for many of the fruit's beneficial qualities, which include possible antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antihistamine effects. Drugs.com adds that mangosteen may also have the ability to lower levels of fat in the bloodstream. Mangosteen is also a good source of certain minerals, with an 8 oz. serving providing 26 mg of calcium -- essential for building strong teeth and bones -- and 0.65 mg of iron, needed to produce red blood cells. Finally, mangosteen contains 76 IU of antioxidant vitamin A, essential for healthy vision.

Research

Some scientific research supports mangosteen's possible use to help control inflammation. In a clinical laboratory study published in 2002 in "Biochemical Pharmacology," researchers found that a xanthone in mangosteen called gamma-mangostin inhibited the activity of the inflammatory agents COX-1 and COX-2 in rat cells, while preventing the release of prostaglandin, a third inflammatory substance. Some research also supports mangosteen's ability to act against the cells of certain types of cancer. In a clinical study published in 2006 in "Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin," researchers found that alpha-mangostin -- a xanthone found in mangosteen -- was toxic to human cancer cells, including those of breast cancer, lung cancer and carcinoma of the mouth.

Considerations

When purchasing mangosteen, choose a fruit that feels heavy for its size, with a slightly yielding rind; avoid mangosteens that are rock hard. When selecting juice, check labels for a juice that uses the entire fruit; the level of xanthones is highest in the pericarp, or rind. The American Cancer Society notes that adverse reactions to mangosteen are rare, but advises that people undergoing chemotherapy or radiation consult their doctors before taking mangosteen. The use of mangosteen hasn't been well studied in pregnancy; avoid eating mangosteen if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

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