What is Mangosteen?
Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is native to South East Asia, and is known as "The Queen of the tropical fruits". The fruit is dark purple in colour. The inedible purple outer husk surrounds juicy white segments of edible fruit, resembling a small mandarin in size and structure. The fruit is prized for its mild, sweet flavour, whilst the rind is occasionally used as a spice in cooking.
Various parts of the plant, including the leaves, rind and fruit have been used in South East Asian traditional medicine to treat infections of the skin and urinary tract, and digestive complaints. Mangosteen is a close relative of Garcinia cambogia, which has been touted for its supposed weight loss benefits.
Where does Mangosteen come from?
The Mangosteen tree reaches between 6 and 25m in height, and grows in many tropical locations, such as South East Asia, The Middle and South Americas (especially Columbia and Puerto Rico) and the South of India. It is a seasonal fruit, and generally only available for two months of the year. For these reasons, it can be difficult and expensive to find fresh mangosteen in Australia.
Mangosteen is commonly available tinned in syrup, and whole mangosteen juice is becoming more popular, particularly through heavily marketed health brands such as XanGo.
Mangosteen Health Benefits
The outer husk, or pericarp, of the Mangosteen contains a family of chemicals known as xanthones, which are touted to have a number of positive effects (1).
Mangosteen has been heavily promoted as an anti-cancer food. A number of in vitro and animal studies have shown that mangosteen xanthones have anti-proliferative activities, which means they interfere with cell replication, and pro-apoptotic activity, which means they encourage the destruction of damaged cells, such as tumour cells. These effects have been shown in a number of tumour types (2).
Likewise, mangosteen xanthones have been shown to decrease inflammation by interfering with he production of a number of different types of inflammatory chemicals produced by the body (3). In vitro studies have shown that this may also improve the response of the cells to insulin (4). It is thought that these properties may have a role in the treatment of metabolic syndrome, a disease characterised by obesity, insulin resistance and inflammation (5)
The antioxidant properties of mangosteen have been demonstrated in humans by a reduction of the free radical concentration in the blood (5).
There have been human studies which have shown that mangosteen extract is able to improve the immune response, by increasing numbers of lymphocytes and levels of immune-mediating chemicals. It was also reported to subjectively increase feelings of good health (6).
Mangosteen Benefits for Bodybuilding
Apart from the general health effects, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory supplements are of particular benefit to bodybuilders, because they can speed up muscle repair and regeneration, and decreaase the recovery time.
Bodybuilding is a rigorous pursuit which places a lot of stress on the body and may weaken the immune system as a result. An immune booster can keep an athlete healthy and minimise the time taken out for illness.
Mangosteen Side Effects, Negatives or Safety Issues?
A lot of study has been devoted to mangosteen in the last few years as a result of health claims pushed by manufacturers of health supplements. Whilst many of the effects mangosteen extract has on cells in a test tube, or in mice are promising, there have been a very limited number of studies performed in humans (1)
What is known in humans is that mangosteen xanthones are absorbed very poorly through the digestive system. One of the most comprehensive studies into bioavailability showed that on average, less than 0.1% of the active compound that was eaten showed up in the bloodstream. Whilst this did result in an 18% increase in antioxidants in the blood, mirroring previous studies in animals, the experiment also included known antioxidants such as green tea and vitamin A, so they were unable to determine the individual contribution of mangosteen to this effect.
The active ingredients of the mangosteen are present in greatest amounts in the hard, fibrous husk of the plant, rather than the highly edible fruit, which means obtaining any benefits this plant offers is not as appealing a prospect as it may initially seem, and consumption may cause gastric irritation (1). Additionally, it is impossible to obtain fresh mangosteen for the majority of the year, and the majority of products only contain the edible fruit, although some of the juices available do contain whole pureed fruit and husk, and extracts are available.
Mangosteen Dosage and Timing
There have been very few trials in humans to determine dose, but 60mL of pureed whole mangosteen was used and had posssible antioxidant effects in one study (7), and another showed anti-inflammatory effects only when a daily dose of more than 550mL of a commercial supplement drink blended with other fruits (XanGo) was consumed.
Mangosteen will go with anything, and would go well in a recovery stack to take advantage of its proposed antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
(1) Gutierrez-Orozco F, Failla ML. Biological Activities and Bioavailability of Mangosteen Xanthones: A Critical Review of the Current Evidence. Nutrients. 2013 August; 5(8): 3163–3183.(2)Kosem N., Ichikawa K., Utsumi H., Moongkarndi P. In vivo toxicity and antitumor activity of mangosteen extract. J. Nat. Med. 2013;67:255–263. doi: 10.1007/s11418-012-0673-8.
(3) Chen L.G., Yang L.L., Wang C.C. Anti-inflammatory activity of mangostins from Garcinia mangostana.Food Chem. Toxicol. 2008;46:688–693.
(4) Bumrungpert A., Kalpravidh R.W., Chitchumroonchokchai C., Chuang C.C., West T., Kennedy A., McIntosh M. Xanthones from mangosteen prevent lipopolysaccharide-mediated inflammation and insulin resistance in primary cultures of human adipocytes. J. Nutr. 2009;139:1185–1191.
(5) Udani J.K., Singh B.B., Barrett M.L., Singh V.J. Evaluation of mangosteen juice blend on biomarkers of inflammation in obese subjects: A pilot, dose finding study. Nutr. J. 2009;8:48–54.
(6) Tang YP, Li PG, Kondo M, Ji HP, Kou Y, Ou B. Effect of a mangosteen dietary supplement on human immune function: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Med Food. 2009 Aug;12(4):755-63.
(7) Kondo M., Zhang L., Ji H., Kou Y., Ou B. Bioavailability and antioxidant effects of a xanthone-rich mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) product in humans. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2009;57:8788–8792.