Spotlight on Supplements: Mangosteen

Mangosteen contains a high concentration of health-supporting phytochemicals.

© Nikolay_Donetsk | Getty Images Talk with your doctor before adding mangosteen supplements.

You may be familiar with the “superfood” known as mangosteen. Read along as EN examines this ancient fruit and determines if the health hype meets the evidence.

Overview. Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical plant native to Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Thailand, and India. However, it wasn’t until 2007 that fresh mangosteen was imported into the U.S. due to previous concerns about invasive fruit flies. It is called “the queen of fruits” for its complex, sweet taste and extensive use in traditional medicine for skin infections, wounds, and diarrhea. Nutritionally, mangosteen packs a punch with nutrients that many U.S. adults may lack (fiber, potassium, vitamin C). It also contains a high concentration of phytochemicals that are thought to be antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and potentially cardioprotective. Commercial interest in these benefits steered the development of mangosteen extract powders, capsules, and juice concentrates.

Evidence. Though early cell and animal data suggested a potential application of mangosteen-derived compounds in various therapies (cancer, neurological), there is limited strong clinical evidence linking mangosteen supplementation with improved outcomes. However, small studies suggest that mangosteen gel or extracts might be helpful for individuals with serious gum infections.

Safety. In its whole form, mangosteen is likely safe for most healthy individuals. However, while the safety of mangosteen extracts was demonstrated in animals, it is not as clear in humans. When taken orally as a supplement, 560 milligrams of daily mangosteen extract is reported to be possibly safe up to 12 weeks, though side effects were reported (constipation, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue). It may also increase the risk of bleeding in individuals with clotting disorders or upcoming surgery, since it contains xanthones that might slow blood clotting.

Interactions. If you are taking anticoagulant medication, be aware that they may interact with mangosteen supplements. The antioxidant effects of mangosteen supplements may also interact with cognition-enhancing medication (donepezil) or anti-cancer therapies. Please consult with your healthcare provider before changing your diet or adding supplements.

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