Studies Claim Mangosteen Benefits Heart, Immune System, Acne

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Several recent studies of mangosteen, a tropical fruit native to Southeast Asia, have reported that the unusual fruit may be helpful in preventing heart disease, improving immune response, treating acne, and even fighting cancer. Research thus far has included evaluation of mangosteen extracts and pureed juice.

Despite its name, mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is not related to the mango. The fruit, including the pulp and rind, are sometimes pureed and used as a drink, and the rind can be dried and powdered to make remedies and supplements. In the Philippines and Asia the rind is steeped in water to make tea, and the roots can be boiled to prepare a remedy for menstrual problems. Mangosteen has been praised for its high antioxidant content, especially xanthones and flavonoids. One xanthone in particular, mangostin, was found to have anti-inflammatory properties in studies conducted in rats in the late 1970s.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in August 2009 and conducted at Capital Medical University in Beijing tested mangosteen on immune system function in 59 healthy adults. The researchers found that consumption of mangosteen improved levels of factors associated with optimal immune system health, including peripheral T-helper cell frequency, and serum complement C3, C4, and interleukin-1-alpha concentrations, and also reduced levels of C-reactive protein. Compared with controls, participants who took mangosteen also reported greatly improved overall health status.

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In the most recent study, published in Nutrition Journal, researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which some people were given one-half liter (about 16 ounces) of mangosteen juice daily while others received placebo. Those who consumed the manogsteen juice showed a significant reduction in C-reactive protein levels. C-reactive protein is a factor used to predict cardiovascular disease and a precursor of metabolic syndrome.

A Japanese study published in July 2009 found mangostin to have possible cancer-preventing properties. The mouse study evaluated the use of mangostin in mammary tumors and found that the mangosteen component increased cell death and displayed other benefits which suggested it could be useful as a chemopreventive agent in breast cancer.

An October 2009 study conducted in Thailand used both the young and the mature fruit rind extractof mangosteen to examine its ability to fight acne. The young rind extract contained higher levels of phenolics and tannins and had greater antioxidant abilities than the mature fruit rind extract, which contained higher levels of flavonoids and was better at fighting acne-producing bacteria.

In the United States, mangosteen is available as juice and oral supplements. As with any nutritional supplements, consumers should look for reputable suppliers and talk to their health-care provider before taking any new nutrient or supplement, especially if they are already taking medications. According to the American Cancer Society, mangosteen supplements may make radiation therapy or chemotherapy less effective because of its antioxidant effects.

SOURCES:
American Cancer Society
Doi H et al. Anticancer Research 2009 Jul; 29(7): 2485-95
Pothitirat W et al. Fitoterapia 2009 Oct; 80*7(: 442-47
Tang YP et al. Journal of Medicinal Food 2009 Aug; 12(4): 755-63
Udani JK et al. Nutrition Journal 2009 Oct. online

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