Originally published October 15 2013
Mangosteen's phytochemical components
by Willow Tohi
(NaturalNews) Indonesia's "Queen of Fruits," Garcinia mangostana L., or purple mangosteen, is a popular superfood both in its natural form and as a botanical dietary supplement. The fruit of a tropical evergreen tree, mangosteen is about the size of a tangerine with white flesh that is sweet, tangy, and slightly fibrous like a peach, and highly perishable. The dark reddish-purple rind is hard, so it is usually not eaten but it does have several healthful constituents, which are extracted and included in juice and supplement products.
Part of both the diet and folk medicine of Southeast Asia for thousands of years, mangosteen fruit is a highly nutritious food with many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It has traditionally been used to treat wounds, inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, fever, diarrhea, cystitis, and dysentery. Mangosteen is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Researchers have been studying its chemical constituents and nutrients, and their application in human health, for more than half a century.
Phytochemical components of the nutrient-rich mangosteenMangosteen has been found to contain many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (B12), and niacin (B3). It has also been found to contain substances that have antihistamine and chemoprotective effects, and a class of naturally occurring polyphenolic compounds called xanthones. Polyphenolic compounds are found in edible and inedible plants, and have been found to have multiple biological effects including antioxidant activity thought to be approximately five times stronger than vitamins C and E. They are of interest to the food industry as they improve the quality and nutritional value of food because of how they slow the oxidative degradation of lipids (http://tilia.zf.mendelu.cz/ustavy/553/dzi/www/data/13_anti.pdf).
Mangosteen contains 50 of the 200 known xanthones, the source of its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants have been shown to neutralize destructive free radicals in the body which cause oxidative stress at the cellular level, a root cause of degenerative and chronic disease. Xanthones are antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiplasmodial, cytotoxic, and antihepatoxic (prevent liver disease). Ongoing studies are researching their beneficial effects on a variety of diseases, including: arthritis, asthma, Alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, Parkinson's, stroke, ulcers, and urinary tract infections. (http://www.naturalnews.com/011703.html)
The xanthones of the 'mangostin' family demonstrate an anti-inflammatory effect in studies. Specifically, the xanthone 'gamma-mangostin,' was found to inhibit the release of prostaglandin E-2, a known cause of inflammation. It also inhibits COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes in animal cells. Researchers also found that mangosteen juice reduces inflammation markers in obese patients.
Health benefits of mangosteen phytochemicalsScientists began conducting studies on the extracts and phytochemicals in mangosteen decades ago, centering mainly around their applications to infectious diseases, cancer prevention and treatments, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Xanthones have been shown to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular diseases including heart disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension, and thrombosis - one of which is the ability to restore the elasticity of blood vessels. This is likely due to the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other activities of the xanthones. Mangosteen's xanthones have been found to influence certain enzyme activity and modulate specific receptor-binding sites. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3090081/)
Infectious disease-related targets were studied, finding mangosteen to have antibacterial properties, and have been shown to inhibit tuberculosis and staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an antibiotic resistant "superbug" known to cause pneumonia as well as bone, skin, and bloodstream infections (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22494050). Mangosteen has 13 naturally occurring xanthones that inhibit the superbug, responsible for a growing number of high morbidity and mortality rates across world-wide human populations.
Mangosteen's xanthones were also shown to inhibit malaria, prevent vision impairment, and maintain digestion. Mangosteen extracts have even proven useful in fighting insect pests resistant to synthetic insecticides due to its detoxification enzyme activity (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18399471). Multiple studies have further validated these findings and the traditional use of mangosteen for skin infections by finding that mangosteen extracts strongly inhibit acne causing bacteria with its antimicrobial properties (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16009519) as well as by scavenging free radicals and reducing cytokine to reduce inflammation. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17644272)
Several studies show that mangosteen xanthones and xanthone derivatives inhibit the growth of various cancer cells, including: leukemia, liver, breast, colon, stomach, and lung, having anti-tumor activity by blocking tumor initiation (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22622784). Additionally, over 20 different xanthones from mangosteen have been tested regarding their cytotoxicity for cancer cells and cell-cycle arrest assays. Scientists conclude, "xanthones with potential cancer chemopreventive activity have been found from mangosteen."
With so much research ongoing coupled with the centuries of field tests already completed, there is little doubt that mangosteen fruit's phytochemical components offer a variety of biological health benefits. Most Americans drink the juice of the mangosteen fruit, which typically includes extracts from the pericarp and exocarp. Most of the scientific research being conducted on mangosteen is being done on phytochemicals found in these parts of the fruit. Scientists are isolating singular constituents, and using them to direct research for new pharmaceutical drugs. Natural and traditional folk medicine believes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Synthesized versions won't have the potent enzymatic activity, for example. As they continue to explore applications for the uses of mangosteen, one thing they all agree on is that there are no known side-effects or contraindications for adding mangosteen to your diet.
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