“Learn to live with it.”
That’s what Mike’s doctor told him when he just couldn’t get rid of the chronic pain in his shoulders, a result of years playing professional baseball. He was also told that the prescription anti-inflammatory drugs he was on would eventually destroy his liver.
Mike quit the drugs immediately. But chronic inflammation flared up like a fire inside his body. To top it off, Mike battled severe acid reflux disease and persistent allergies. He felt 30 years older than the 60 years his birth certificate showed.
Inflammation’s Double-Edge Sword
Inflammation is our body’s natural response to injury and infection. It’s a necessary process for protecting and repairing our bodies. However, chronic inflammation like Mike’s can significantly and adversely affect our body’s cells. It’s been directly linked to heart attacks, stroke, and Alzheimer’s – and suspected in many other disease processes. It’s also a tremendous source of pain.
For Mike, the “heat” was on to find relief. At first, his doctor had suggested masking the pain with a variety of anti-inflammatory drugs. But when his doctor admitted the adverse side effects, Mike found out the hard way why natural health enthusiasts consider prescription drugs a method of last resort. He started looking for a better answer.
“Let Food Be Thy Medicine”
Hippocrates practiced and taught nearly 2,500 years ago. Often called the “Father of Western Medicine,” much of what he taught resembles what we call a natural or complementary approach to medicine today. He probably wouldn’t even recognize the modern pharmaceutical-driven approach found in many hospitals and doctor offices as medicine.
It turns out Hippocrates was really onto something when he said “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” We’ve talked about many foods and herbs with healing properties before, such as boswellia, lemongrass, arnica,
lemon balm, pineapple, turmeric and ginger.
Today I want to tell you about another food you should know about: the purple mangosteen.
The Purple Mangosteen
Mangosteen has been used for thousands of years by traditional healers in folk, ayurvedic, and traditional Chinese medicine in Asia. The indigenous peoples of Southeast Asia used it to remedy a wide range of ailments. They would boil the rind and drink the tea for relief of various digestive issues, infections in the body, inflammation pain, and even malaria-induced fevers. Mashed into a poultice, it was spread over the body to improve numerous skin conditions.
While the fruit’s sweet and tangy, slightly citrus tasting interior pulp gets your attention first, it’s the deep purple yet bitter pericarp (outer rind) of the tangerine-sized fruit that excites scientists and natural health advocates the most. Thanks to its incredibly nutrient and antioxidant-rich pericarp, mangosteen has joined a handful of other superfruits in recent years in gaining widespread notice.
When Mike first heard about mangosteen from a friend a few years ago he decided to give it a try. Since it can be difficult to find fresh mangosteen fruit in the United States, Mike tried a juice supplement made from the whole-fruit mangosteen. He was amazed when years of chronic pain evaporated in 36 hours. Not only that, but he also credits mangosteen juice with stopping his acid reflux and allergies right in their tracks.
The Science Supporting Mangosteen
There’s been a lot of hype about one exotic food or herb after another in the press in recent years. Being skeptical is natural – and healthy. But eating foods rich in antioxidants is backed by solid science. And solid science also backs many of the claims made about the mangosteen. So let’s take a moment to dig into what might make the mangosteen so special.
Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) belongs to the scientific family Guttiferae, the same family as St.John’s Wort. What really separates the mangosteen from other natural foods are the amount and variety of a class of phytonutrients called xanthones found in it.
So what are xanthones? Basically, they are a class of plant-derived nutrients with some pretty amazing biological properties… including, some claim, the ability to improve chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, viral and bacterial infections, allergies, and Crohn’s disease among others.
That’s where the mangosteen really stands out. Its pericarp contains a whopping 43 different xanthones – and some of them have never been found anywhere else.
Among the most studied mangosteen xanthones are alpha-, beta-, and gamma-mangostins, garcinone E, 8-deoxygartanin, and gartanin. Over a dozen studies provide evidence of the anti-inflammatory effects of xanthones on inflammation alone, which is a major source of pain and disease when left unchecked.
These recent studies and many impartial scientific reviews have begun to add serious credibility to what many Southeast Asians have believed for generations… mangosteen is both tasty and a unique healer.
Where to Find Mangosteen
Until recently, mangosteen had only been available in tropical regions of the world where it’s harvested. Only over the past decade has mangosteen been imported and promoted in the United States in a widespread fashion.
Whole fruit mangosteen can still be difficult to find in the United States outside of specialty health food or import food markets in larger cities. Canned fruit can be found online and in some stores.
More commonly available are mangosteen juice, capsules, and powders through many nutritional supplement and health food stores and supermarkets. Of course, they can be found all over the Internet, too.
What I Recommend
While the fruit is great to eat, if you’re looking at the mangosteen for health benefits I recommend you go with a whole-fruit mangosteen juice or juice blend, meaning it includes the pericarp along with the pulp. After all, it’s the pericarp where you’ll find the abundance of phytonutrients like xanthones. And you probably won’t get nearly as many eating the fruit whole because the bitter rind won’t be pleasant for most to eat directly.
If you drink the juice for health, give it time to take effect. While Mike’s story is impressive, some can take as long as three months to notice an improvement. Since whole-fruit mangosteen juice is so potent you can actually benefit from drinking as little as 1 to 3 ounces at each meal.
Since the use of mangosteen is so new in Western nations, I would love to hear your comments below on your experience with this fruit if you’ve taken it for your health. Was it all it’s cracked up to be for you? Let us know!
Pedraza-Chaverri J, Cardenas-Rodriguez N, et al. Food and Chemical Toxicology. Medicinal properties of mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana). 2008 Oct;46(10):3227-39.
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Mahabusarakam W, Proudfoot J, Taylor W, Croft K. Study on inhibition of lipoprotein oxidation by prenylatedxanthones derived from mangostin. Chemistry Department, Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Thailand. 2000 Nov; 33(5):643-59.
ScienceDaily. Link Between Inflammation, Cancer Confirmed. 2008 Jun 3.
Nakatani K, Yamakuni T, et al. gamma-Mangostin inhibits inhibitor-kappaB kinase activity and decreases lipopolysaccharide-induced cyclooxygenase-2 gene expression in C6 rat glioma cells. Department of Pharmaceutical Molecular Biology,Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tohoku University, Aoba, Aramaki, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8578, Japan. 2004 Sep; 66(3):667-74.
Bumrungpert A, Kalpravidh RW, et al. Xanthones from mangosteen inhibit inflammation in human macrophages and in human adipocytes exposed to macrophage-conditioned media. The Journal of Nutrition. 2010 Apr;140(4):842-7.