Mangosteen Benefits and Uses

Mangosteen fruit
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Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical fruit said to offer a number of health benefits. Often touted for its antioxidant effects, mangosteen is sometimes referred to as a "superfruit." The fruit tastes slightly sweet and tart. 

Mangosteen is widely available in juice form. Mangosteen juice products typically include the fruit, rind (which is inedible in whole fruit form), and pulp of the fruit, which contains compounds called xanthones (such as α-mangostin) and hydroxycitric acid.

Uses for Mangosteen

In Southeast Asia, mangosteen rind has been used for medicinal purposes for generations. Proponents claim that mangosteen can also help with the following health problems:

  • acne
  • arthritis
  • cancer
  • diabetes

In addition, some proponents suggest that mangosteen may promote healthy skin and weight loss.

Mangosteen Benefits

To date, very few studies have tested the effects of mangosteen on human health. In experimental research, scientists have shown that mangosteen extract may possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-tumor properties.

There's some evidence that applying mangosteen extract to the skin may help treat acne. However, it's important to note that what happens in a test tube may not occur in the human body.

In one of the few clinical trials testing the effects of mangosteen, researchers found that mangosteen may help boost the immune system. Published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2009, the study involved 59 healthy adults. For 30 days, study members took either a placebo or a mangosteen product containing vitamins and essential minerals.

By the study's end, members of the mangosteen group had experienced a significantly greater improvement in immune response (compared to members of the placebo group). Mangosteen also appeared to reduce levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation).

For another small study published in 2016 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers found that a single dose of a mangosteen juice blend had no effect on reducing the physical fatigue that occurs during exercise.

Cancer

Despite claims that mangosteen can help fight cancer, there's no evidence to support the use of mangosteen in cancer treatment or prevention. In a report published in the Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology, scientists warn that cancer patients should use caution before consuming mangosteen products. Mangosteen can potentially interact with cancer treatments and also affect blood sugar levels, the report's authors noted.

Side Effects

Research indicates that xanthones may interfere with normal blood-clotting. It's not known whether mangosteen xanthones may interact with blood-thinning medication (such as warfarin) and possibly lead to bleeding.

Studies suggest that higher doses of xanthones may depress the central nervous system in animals and cause sedation. Xanthones may cause excess sedation when combined with other herbs or medication, and it may be toxic at higher doses. Human studies have not been conducted.

In a small study, some of the side effects of an oral mangosteen extract included tiredness, constipation, dry throat, headache, and indigestion.

Supplements haven't been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label. Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get tips on using supplements, but keep in mind that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Forms of Mangosteen

Often sold as a whole fruit or juice, mangosteen is also available in capsule or powder form or as a tea.

The Takeaway

A tropical fruit, mangosteen has delicate, juicy flesh that is delicious when eaten as a fresh, whole fruit. Due to the lack of supporting research, however, mangosteen in supplement form cannot be recommended for any health condition. If you're considering using mangosteen for treating or preventing any health condition, talk to your doctor first.

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