Mangosteen is a reddish or dark purple fruit with white, juicy flesh, which is popular in Thailand. It is known as the queen of fruits because of its exquisite taste that has the notes of ripe strawberry, a fragrant peach, and creamy vanilla ice cream. The plant of the mangosteen may have originated in Thailand or Myanmar (formerly Burma). Over the years, it has been cultivated in other Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and India.
Benefits of mangosteen
- Anti-cancer Properties – The pericarps of mangosteen contain xanthones which exhibit anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial effects. The xanthones inhibit the cell growth in human colon cancer and as per research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, they exhibit the potential to be developed as agents to prevent cancer or can be used in combination with anti-cancer drugs for beneficial effects.
- Cures Diarrhea & Dysentery – The mangosteen fruit and rind are effective in providing relief from stomach disorders such as diarrhea and dysentery. A traditional remedy for diarrhea is steeping the fruit rind in water overnight. This decoction is given to adults and children who have chronic diarrhea. For relief from dysentery, the dried fruit and rind is powdered and taken.
- Anti-inflammatory Properties – It has been used as an anti-inflammatory agent for many years in Southeast Asian countries. The extracts of mangosteen have anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties and they inhibit the release of histamine and prostaglandin which are associated with inflammation in the body. A study by Dr. Fabiola Gutierrez-Orozco, The Ohio State University, Columbus, confirms this property.
- Skin Care – The anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-allergy, and anti-oxidant properties of mangosteen help in reducing the risk of various conditions such as skin inflammation, skin aging, eczema, allergies, and bacterial infections. Research has been carried out to ascertain the various benefits of this fruit on the skin. A study cited in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal suggests that mangosteen has properties which can prevent skin cancer.
- Boosts Immunity – Mangosteen is rich in nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and xanthones which help in boosting the immune system. These nutrients protect the body from ailments that weaken the immune system.
- Antioxidant Properties – Mangosteens are known to contain powerful antioxidants, which are useful to the immune system and the entire body. These antioxidants contain cell boosters that are referred to as xanthones, which contain various properties that have medicinal value. This is the reason why it is termed a healing fruit and can be used to reverse the effects of diseases. Dr. Zhuohong Xie et al., International Chemistry Testing, Massachusetts, in a study shows the daily consumption of mangosteen drink improves antioxidant levels in the body.
- Speeds up Healing – Mangosteen, with its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, is beneficial as a medicinal drink and for quick healing of wounds. The leaves and bark of the tree can be mixed with other medicinal herbs and applied to the wounds for a faster recovery. The medicinal drink can be prepared by boiling the leaves and the bark of the tree.
- Alleviates Menstrual Problems – Mangosteen root helps in regulating the menstrual cycle in women. It also eases the symptoms that often occur before menstruation and make it tough for women to carry out their routine.
- Astringent Properties – The bark and leaves of the mangosteen tree exhibit astringent properties and are beneficial in curing thrush or aphtha, which is a small, shallow sore at the base of the gums.
- Protects Heart Health – Mangosteens are helpful in reducing the risk of stroke or myocardial infarction. Findings of a study published in the Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology indicate the cardioprotective effect of mangosteen on antioxidant tissue defense system and lipid peroxidation during a stroke.
- Controls Diabetes – Dr. Dónal O’Mathuna, The Ohio State University, US, in his book Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook writes about the use of mangosteen to cure diabetes, as it is effective in managing and maintaining blood sugar levels in the body.
- Weight Loss – Incorporating mangosteen in the diet may be effective in weight loss. The various nutrients found in this tropical fruit also ensure good health and well-being.
Apart from the health benefits, mangosteen is useful for commercial purposes a well. In China, it is used for tanning leather and in Ghana, the tree twigs are used as chewsticks. The wood is also used for making rice pounders, handles and is also used in constructing furniture.
Adding mangosteens to your diet
Fresh mangosteen fruit is eaten as a dessert. Juice from the fruit’s flesh can be prepared at home and is also available as a health drink “Xango juice”. It is also made into jams and thus can be stored for a longer duration and can be consumed at any time of the year. Mangosteen products are available in tablet or capsule form. Mangosteen powder can be added to smoothies and juices for a nutrition boost.
Mangosteen is in season from June and August and can be consumed anytime of the day, though the best time is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
1. Causes Allergic Reactions:
Consumption of mangosteen has been reported to cause mild allergic reactions like hives, skin redness, swelling, itching and rashes in hypersensitive people. It may also lead to serious symptoms like swelling of the mouth, lips or throat, chest tightness or pain. These symptoms should not be ignored and the use of mangosteen should be discontinued immediately if one observes any of these symptoms.
2. Causes Lactic Acidosis:
A research conducted by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre observed that daily consumption of mangosteen juice for 12 months can cause severe lactic acidosis. This is a condition characterized by abnormal accumulation of lactic acid in the bloodstream. Symptoms of lactic acidosis include nausea and weakness. When left untreated, it can lead to serious health complications like shock. Consult your medical practitioner immediately if you experience any of these symptoms following the consumption of mangosteen juice or extract.
3. Interferes With Chemotherapy:
Several studies have indicated that mangosteen can interfere with the effects of radiation treatment and chemotherapy drugs. This is because certain chemotherapy drugs depend upon the production of free radicals to fight and destroy tumors. The powerful antioxidants contained in mangosteen fight and eliminate free radicals and can prove to be a hindrance in cancer treatment.
4. Not Suitable For Diabetics:
One of the serious mangosteen side effects. The commercial mangosteen juice available in the market is high in sugar content, especially if it contains other fruits and berries as ingredients. Fresh mangosteen is not harmful for diabetics but it may interfere with the drugs related to blood sugar. It is advisable to consult a medical practitioner before consuming this fruit if you are undergoing treatment for diabetes. Excess consumption of this fruit should also be avoided.
5. Interferes With Blood’s Coagulating Properties:
Our body possesses a natural ability to prevent bleeding. Mangosteen consumption can adversely affect this property, as the xanthones contained in it may interfere with normal blood clotting. It can also interact with blood thinning medications like warfarin and lead to gastrointestinal bleeding.
6. Leads To Constipation And Loose Stools:
A research has observed that consuming more than an ounce of mangosteen supplement can lead to temporary loose stools. Similarly, excessive consumption of mangosteen supplement can worsen the constipation symptoms in patients suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome and diabetes with gastroparesis complication. In such cases, it is advisable to reduce the serving size.
7. Leads To Polycythemia Rubra Vera:
Polycythemia Rubra Vera is a disorder where the bone marrow makes too many red blood cells, leading to higher number of red blood cells in your blood. Patients diagnosed with this disease should avoid using mangosteen as it can increase red blood cell mass.
8. Excess Sedation:
Certain studies have reported that high doses of xanthones in mangosteen can be toxic and may depress the central nervous system. When combined with other herbs and medications or used at higher doses, these can cause excess sedation.
9. Not Suitable For Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women:
This fruit is not a good choice for pregnant or breastfeeding women, as well as infants. It is also not suitable for people with other fruit allergies.
10. Other Side Effects:
Other side effects of mangosteen include insomnia, stomach upset, muscle ache, mild headache, joint pain, interrupted sleep, persistent nausea, shortness of breath, light headedness and dizziness. The use of mangosteen should be stopped immediately if any of these signs and symptoms is experienced.
Most of the side effects of mangosteen are temporary and can be overcome easily by reducing its dosage. However, its use should be discontinued, if serious side effects are observed. Always consult your doctor if you face any serious side effects of this otherwise healthy fruit.
Recipe for Kolkadi – Indian kokum and coconut drink
MAKES 1and 3/4 CUPS, 3 HOURS
8 pieces pieces dried kokum (¼ oz.)
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen grated coconut
8 medium garlic cloves, peeled
1 Thai green chile, stemmed and finely chopped, plus a bit more for garnish
Cilantro leaves, for serving
In a small bowl, cover the kokum with ½ cup cold water. Set aside to steep at room temperature for 3 hours.
In a blender, combine the coconut, garlic, half of the chopped green chile, and 1 cup cold water. Blend until the mixture is very smooth.
Line a strainer with 2 layers of cheesecloth and set over a large measuring cup. Strain the mixture, pressing the pulp through the cheesecloth to extract as much liquid as possible. Return the pulp to the blender, add an additional half cup of water and pulse to rehydrate and combine the pulp. Strain the liquid through the cheesecloth into the first batch of coconut cream, pressing the pulp again to extract as much coconut milk as possible.
Remove the kokum from its soaking liquid, squeezing to extract as much juice as possible; discard the solids. Stir the kokum water into the coconut liquid, then chill well. When ready to serve, pour the solkadi into 4–6 glasses and garnish each with a few slivers of chile and cilantro leaves.
Recipe for Kokum rasam (saaru)
Tangy and warming South Indian soup
a handful dried kokum
4 cups water (approx)
jaggery (gur) to taste
salt to taste
1 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
1/4 tsp mustard seeds (rai)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 dry red chilli, broken and seeds discarded
6-8 curry leaves
3-4 garlic cloves, peel and chop (optional)
chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
In a vessel put dried kokum, water. Let soak for sometime. Then squeeze out the kokum and discard them. To the ruby colored kokum water add jaggery, salt.
Keep over low-medium flame and let come to boil. Simmer for few mins. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from heat.
For the tempering, in a small saucepan heat ghee, add mustard, cumin and let crackle. Add red chilli, curry leaves, garlic if adding.
Pour tempering to the kokum soup. Cover immediately and set aside for 2 mins. Stir and serve piping hot in a glass or soup bowls!
Durian (tropical fruit covered with thorny husk) and mangosteen are usually placed next to each other in the markets, because durian produces strong heating effect which mangosteen easily neutralizes.
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