Everyone knows what a mango is, but have you ever heard of a mangosteen? You’re forgiven if you haven’t, as this Southeast Asian fruit was banned in the U.S. until October 2007 because it was though to harbor Asian fruit flies. Thankfully, however, this health-boosting fruit is no longer on the ban list, and that’s a good thing because it’s been shown to have some pretty amazing benefits.
Also known as the “queen of fruits,” mangosteen has been used to naturally treat a wide variety of health concerns for centuries by the people of Southeast Asia. Benefits include being high in fiber yet low in calories, as well as having a good serving of vitamin C.
It’s always been popular in Southeast Asia, but why has it been gaining popularity around the world and is now commonly sold as a health supplement? Well, we now know it not only contains an impressive array of essential vitamins and minerals, but it also contains a group of phytochemicals called xanthones.
Research shows that this tropical fruit can boost the immune system, decrease inflammation and even fight cancer. One Brazilian study even showed that an extract of mangosteen had both antimicrobial and anti-tumor abilities and therefore has therapeutic potential in treating infectious diseases as well as cancer.
1. Fights Cancer
Mangosteens have been the focus of many anticancer studies, and results have been very positive to date support their standing as cancer-fighting foods. The mangosteen fruit itself is said to contain at least 20 known xanthones, and the majority of those are found in the fruit wall or pericarp. Findings from research conducted in 2008 by the Gifu International Institute of Biotechnology in Japan showed that one xanthone from mangosteen in particular, known as alpha-Mangostin, was found to have a cancer-preventive effect on animal subjects. This study concluded that xanthones should be used as an agent for cancer prevention and as cancer treatment in combination with other therapies.
A 2012 study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine also showed that the xanthone extracts had anti-colon cancer effects in vitro and in vivo, while another study conducted by the Department of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy indicated the mangosteen can successfully slow the progress of prostate cancer.
The cancer-fighting evidence doesn’t end there. A study published in 2016 in the International Journal of Oncology looked at the anticancer activity of mangosteen’s alpha-mangostin on human breast cancer cells. The research indicated that α-mangostin induced programmed cell death of cancer cells, and it was concluded that α-mangostin may be used as a food supplement as well as a potential therapeutic compound for breast cancer.
Skin cancers are often resistant to conventional chemotherapy, but mangosteen has shown ability to naturally fight cancers of the skin. One study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology examined the anti-skin cancer properties of crude ethanol extract of mangosteen pericarp on human squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. The mangosteen extract showed strong anti-skin cancer effects on both skin cancer cell lines, showing its potential as skin cancer natural treatment.
Xanthones from mangosteen extracts have also been shown to be natural chemopreventive agents and have potential as anticancer drugs. Xanthones from the pericarp, whole fruit, heartwood and leaf of mangosteen are known to possess a wide spectrum of pharmacologic properties, including antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activities. The ability of xanthones to both prevent and treat cancer have been demonstrated in different stages of cancer formation, including initiation, promotion and progression.
The xanthones have also shown their ability to control cancer cell division and growth, programmed cell death, inflammation, and cancer metastasis.
2. Combats Inflammation and Allergies
Scientific research has shown that extracts of mangosteen have both anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties. One study specifically showed that these extracts worked better at inhibiting pro-allergy prostaglandin than an anti-allergy drug used in Japan. The extracts proved to be potent and successful inhibitors of the release of histamine and prostaglandin, which are both associated with inflammation in the human body as well as allergies. Alpha- and gamma-mangostins are two specific bioactive substances found in mangosteen that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.
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