(NaturalHealth365) Mangosteen, a tropical fruit indigenous to southeast Asia, is gaining in popularity as a dietary supplement and nutriceutical. Scientifically known as Garcinia mangostana, mangosteen features a dark purple rind and an inner pulp that is sweet, tart, juicy and refreshing.
Although Western medicine has been slow to embrace the therapeutic properties of mangosteen, it is no secret to natural healers in the far east. Since the days of the Ming dynasty, practitioners of Chinese Traditional Medicine have relied on mangosteen and its extracts to treat skin infections, wounds, dysentery and cholera.
Can mangosteen prevent heart disease and cancer?
In addition to beneficial anthocyanins, tannins, phenols and antioxidant vitamin C, mangosteen also contains plant chemicals called xanthones, incuding alpha-mangostin, beta-mangostin and gamma-mangostin. Although the names of these substances may sound as if they’re straight out of science fiction, there’s nothing fictional about their benefits.
According to Dr. Ray Sahelian, M.D, a medical doctor and specialist in herbal medicine, these xanthones can benefit conditions such as atherosclerosis, ischemic heart disease and high blood pressure. They reduce the “stickiness” of platelets, possess vasorelaxant abilities, and help prevent the cell membrane damage, inflammation and fat oxidation that can contribute to coronary disease.
In addition, evidence supporting the xanthones’ ability to prevent and even slow the growth of cancer has emerged from in vitro – or test tube – studies.
How does mangosteen inhibit cancer cell growth?
In a laboratory study, published in 2002 in Planta Medica, researchers found that yet another of mangosteen’s xanthones, known as garcinone E, had inhibitory effects on liver, stomach and lung cancer cells. This effect was confirmed in a test tube study published in 2008 in Journal of Natural Products.
Researchers screened twelve different xanthones from mangosteen and determined that three of them – garcinone E, alpha-mangostin and gamma-mangostin – inhibited the activity of breast cancer cells. The team noted that mangosteen should be further investigated for its potential to prevent breast cancer.
The studies indicating mangosteen’s therapeutic properties – performed by professional medical researchers and published in peer-reviewed journals – just kept coming. A study, published in 2004 in Journal of Ethnopharmacology, supported the ability of mangosteen extract to cause apoptosis – cell suicide – in breast cancer cells. Researchers concluded that mangosteen extracts “have potential for cancer prevention;” they also noted its “potent” antioxidant effects.
A 2009 study published in Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry showed that alpha-mangostin suppressed metastasis in the human prostate carcinoma cell line PC-3.
The most sweeping endorsement of mangosteen’s cancer-fighting powers came in a scientific review published in Current Molecular Medicine in 2011.
The authors assert that xanthones found in mangosteen demonstrate chemotherapeutic effects in the initiation, promotion and progression of cancer, and can control cancer cell division, growth and metastasis. They concluded that compelling evidence exists for the use of mangosteen not only to prevent cancer, but to treat it.
How, exactly, do xanthones attack cancer cells?
Xanthones inhibit molecular substances in tumor cells, including kinases and DNA polymerases. They perform cell cycle arrest, inhibit tumor cell proliferation, causes apoptosis – or self-destruction of cancer cells – and suppress the adhesion, invasion and metastasis of aggressive cancer cells.
Alpha-mangostin “preferentially targets” leukemia cells, without damaging nearby lymphocytes in the blood. Some experts believe that inflammation contributes to the development of cancer; mangosteen attacks inflammation as well by inhibiting the conversion of arachadonic acid to prostaglandin. Finally, additional cancer-fighting properties may come from mangosteen’s levels of epicatechin, the same beneficial flavonoid found in life-prolonging green tea.
How can I get xanthones into my diet?
Xanthone-packed mangosteen juice is available online and in many local health food stores; you can also buy mangosteen extracts in capsule or tablet form. The customary dosage for the capsules and tablets is 500 milligrams by mouth twice a day; the usual dose for mangosteen juice is 30 milliliters a day.
Naturally, especially when dealing with a serious health problem, consult a trusted medical health professional before using mangosteen, and don’t use it to treat cancer unless under medical supervision. Although there are no serious adverse effects reported, it is best to enjoy mangosteen juice and mangosteen fruit in moderation. As with any food, allergic reactions are possible.
Although the research on mangosteen is extremely promising, human studies have not yet been conducted. But it remains very likely that mangosteen and its amazing constituents can play an important role in fighting and preventing life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Enjoy it in good health.
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