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The unique superfood power of mangosteen - here's the latest research

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 by: Willow Tohi
Tags: mangosteen, scientific research, health benefits

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(NaturalNews) The fruit of a tropical evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia, mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is enjoyed as a snack in regions where it grows across Asia and South America. Because of the highly perishable nature of this delicate fruit, it is rarely found in the United States, but rather marketed as a juice or supplement, and even as a cream for dermatological conditions. Used as a traditional remedy for thousands of years, mangosteen has been the topic of research by western scientists for several decades regarding its health benefits. Their findings are validating its use as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, in the treatment of dysentery, fever, urinary disorders, diarrhea, wound infections, and inflamed skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and more.

Mangosteen, unrelated to the mango, has a taste described by some as a citrus fruit with the texture of a peach, while others describe it as a cross between grapes and apples in flavor. Mangosteen fruit has been found to contain several vitamins and minerals, including: vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), and B3 (niacin). Of more interest to scientists is a class of nutrient-rich phytochemicals called xanthones. These polyphenols from the inedible exocarp, or rind, are potent antioxidants, approximately five times more powerful than the antioxidants found in vitamins C and E. Mangosteen contains 50 of the 200 known xanthones, making it one of the most antioxidant-rich foods in the world.

The latest research on mangosteen

Research on mangosteen compounds encompasses a wide array of applications, largely centered on its impressive xanthone content, including: alpha-mangostin, beta-mangostin, gamma-mangostin, and methoxy-beta-mangostin. In laboratory studies, xanthones have been found to inhibit microbial growth, disrupt tumors, block antihistamines, inhibit HIV, reduce inflammation, improve joint flexibility, regulate the immune system, and prevent infection. This superfood has impressive anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Anti-inflammatory properties of mangosteen

Systemic inflammation is a root cause for disease. For example, inflammation in obese people often leads to additional health challenges, such as heart disease and diabetes. One study found that drinking mangosteen juice twice daily greatly reduced inflammatory markers in the bloodstream. In this same way, mangosteen is showing promise in fighting periodontitis. Patients who applied a gel containing mangosteen juice to their gums improved more than the control group.

Researchers have also found that some of the xanthone activity inhibits the causes of inflammation and acts as a pain reliever, by inhibiting prostaglandins, including both COX-1 and COX-2 . Multiple mangosteen xanthones were found to have these properties. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3090081/)

Ongoing research is being done on applications of mangosteen xanthones for asthma, diabetes, and obesity. Found to increase cell membrane permeability, nuclear chromatin condensation, mitochondrial membrane potential, and inhibit fatty acid synthase, scientists determined mangosteen xanthones to be useful for preventing or treating obesity. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22428036) Likewise, scientists found that administration of mangosteen xanthones significantly reduced airway inflammation and hyper-responsiveness in cases of allergic asthma. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22943973)

Inflammation related disorders such as autonomic nervous system disorders, cardiac dysfunctions, and pain are improved by mangosteen's phytonutrients. A recent study showed improvement of those with depression and somatization, a chronic somatoform disorder when magnosteen was added to their diet. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22814705) Another study demonstrated improvement in subjects with obesity, chronic low-grade inflammation, and insulin resistance after incorporating bioactive compounds from mangosteen into their diet. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19403722) Cardiovascular damage due to myocardial toxicity, caused by oxidative stress and cellular damage due to altered membrane integrity from inflammation was found to improve after a treatment of alpha-mangostin orally for eight days. Researchers concluded that myocardial membrane integrity was restored and abnormalities were attenuated. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18424012)

Antioxidant properties of mangosteen

Mangosteen's xanthone content means it has powerful antioxidant properties. Antioxidants fight free radicals known to cause oxidative stress and damage at the cellular level. The antioxidant properties of 20 mangosteen xanthones have even been studied to discover the thermodynamics and kinetics of the single electron transfer mechanism, in order to assess their free radical scavenging capacity. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22327405) Naturally produced by the body as it breaks down food, we also get exposed to additional sources of free radicals from the environment, such as pollution, radiation, and tobacco smoke. Found in only a few tropical plants, mangosteen is the richest source of xanthones. Studies indicate they may help guard against the development of cancer.

Previous studies have shown cancer to be caused by a multitude of factors, including gene mutations, environmental toxins, and even some viruses and bacteria. Studies on mangosteen's xanthoid compounds have shown pharmacological activities such as: antioxidant, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral effects. Mangosteen constituents were also found to have anti-inflammatory molecular action on gene expression profiles (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22920833). Further studies have shown mangosteen xanthones to have neuroprotective effects, with curcumin, against certain types of cell death. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22776704). They are now studying its bioavailability across the blood-brain barrier to determine its effectiveness as a preventive therapy for neurodegenerative diseases.

Mulitple studies of mangosteen xanthones extract's effects on colon cancer have been done in recent years. Cancer is understood to grow in anaerobic environments. Xanthones are a group of oxygen-containing heterocyclic compounds, lending to their multitude of health benefits. The extracts consistently show potent cytotoxicity, inhibiting tumor metastasis, including cell migration, cell invasion, and clonogenicity. When xanthones extracts were fed to mice, significant inhibition to the growth of colorectal carcinoma cells was observed. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22818000) Mangosteen leaf extract was found to be useful against melanoma cells (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22089762). Another study on skin cancer showed "strong anti-skin cancer effect" on two skin cancer cell lines often resistant to conventional chemotherapy. The determination was that the phenolic-rich mangosteen extract has potential as an anti-skin cancer agent. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22705325)

Numerous studies have likewise been done on mangosteen extract's effects on breast cancer cells. Findings were that breast cancer cells treated with mangosteen extracts experienced apoptotic cell death and alterations in the cell cycles, and exhibited antitumor activity. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22577295) Others found that it also reduced lymph node metastasis and gene mutation. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22342127)

Several similar studies had similar findings, including:

•A study of antiproliferative effects of mangosteen xanthones on canine osteosarcoma cells (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22342127)

•A study of mangosteen fruit xanthones promoting cell cycle arrest in prostate cancer, and decreased tumor growth (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22159229)

•Studies on leukemia cells treated with alph-mangostin, a mangosteen xanthone, showed apoptosis from mitochondrial pathway mediation. Researchers concluded mangosteen extracts would be candidates for preventive and therapeutic cancer treatments. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15498656)

The studies cited here are only a handful of the recent or ongoing studies on mangosteen and its phytochemical constituents. Because of the promise shown in study after study, it's no surprise that xanthones from manosteen extracts are being looked at as a source for anticancer drugs. Its natural chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agents have been demonstrated in different stages of carcinogenesis to control cell division, growth, apoptosis, inflammation, and metastasis. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21902651) It also has potential in treating heart disease, asthma, diabetes, obesity, infections, skin conditions, and many other health challenges.

It's exciting that research has not only provided validation for traditional, natural medicine in the case of mangosteen, but also that they have found much more than they expected, including very promising possibilities for combating several growing epidemics of chronic and degenerative disease.

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