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NHC - Mangosteen
NHC - Mangosteen & ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) ORAC, (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is a U.S. Department of Agriculture test to measure the Total Antioxidant Potency of foods and nutritional supplements. Whole foods that score high in an antioxidant assay called ORAC are recognized to protect cells and their components from damage by oxygen radicals. The ORAC standard is necessary because thousands of antioxidants exist in foods making it impossible to measure each antioxidant individually. ORAC provides an excellent method for determining the overall antioxidant potency of foods.

The Language Of Mangosteen

One of the most praised of tropical fruits and certainly the most esteemed fruit in the family Guttiferae, the mangosteen, Garcinia mangostana L., is known almost universally by this name. There are numerous variations in nomenclature: among Spanish-speaking people, it is called mangostan; to the French, it is mangostanier, mangoustanier, mangouste or mangostier; in Portuguese, it is mangostao, mangosta or mangusta; in Dutch, it is manggis or manggistan; in Vietnamese, mang cut; in Malaysia, it may be referred to in any of these languages or by the local terms—mesetor, semetah, or sementah; in the Philippines, it is mangis or mangostan. Throughout the Malay Archipelago, there are many different spellings and names of the mangosteen fruit similar to most of the names noted above.

Mangosteen Tree
Mangosteen Tree
It All Starts With The Mangosteen Tree
The mangosteen tree is very slow-growing, erect, with a pyramidal crown. It grows 20 to 82 ft (6-25 m) in height and has dark-brown or nearly black, flaking bark. The inner bark contains much yellow, gummy, bitter latex. The evergreen's short-stalked leaves are ovate-oblong or elliptic, leathery and thick. The leaves are dark-green and slightly glossy on top while being yellowish-green and dull beneath. In terms of shape, they are 3 1/2 to 10 in (9-25 cm) long, 1 3/4 to 4 in (4.5-10 cm) wide, with conspicuous, pale midribs: new leaves are rosy. The flowers are 1 1/2 to 2 in (4-5 cm) wide and fleshy. They may be male or hermaphroditic leaves on the same tree. The former are in clusters of 3-9 at the branch tips. Each flower has 4 sepals and 4 ovate: thick, fleshy petals that are green with red spots on the outside and yellowish-red on the inside. The flowers possess many stamens though the aborted anthers bare no pollen. The hermaphroditic flowers are found alone or in pairs at the tips of young branchlets. Their petals may be yellowish-green, edged with red or mostly red, and are quickly shed.

Exquisitely Luscious And Delicious Mangosteen
Mangosteen Fruit
In The End, It's One Exquisitely Luscious And Delicious Fruit
The fruit, capped by the prominent calyx at the stem end is round, 1 1/3 to 3 in (3.4-7.5 cm) in diameter, dark-purple to red-purple and smooth on the outside. The rind is 1/4 to 3/8 in (6-10 mm) thick, red in cross-section and purplish-white on the inside. It contains bitter yellow latex and a purple, staining juice. There are 4 to 8 triangular segments of snow-white, juicy, soft flesh (actually the arils of the seeds). The fruit may be seedless or have 1 to 5 fully developed seeds which are ovoid-oblong, somewhat flattened, 1 in (2.5 cm) long and 5/8 in (1.6 cm) wide clinging to the flesh. The flesh is slightly acidic with a flavor that ranges from mild to intense: it is acclaimed as exquisitely luscious and delicious the world over.

Mangosteen's Clandestine Origins

Mangosteen's place of origin is unknown, it is believed to be the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas. Still, there are wild trees in the forests of Kemaman, Malaysia. Corner suggests that the tree may have been first domesticated in Thailand, or Burma. It is much cultivated in Thailand, where there were 9,700 acres (4,000 ha) in 1965, and in Kampuchea, southern Vietnam and Burma. As well, it is found throughout Malaysia and Singapore.

A brief history of the fruit: the tree was planted in Ceylon in around the year 1800 and in India around 1881. There, it had success in 4 areas: the Nilgiri Hills, the Tinnevelly district of southern Madras; the Kanya-kumani district, at the southernmost tip of the Madras peninsula; and in Kerala State, in southwestern India. There were also known to be fruit producing trees in greenhouses in England in 1855. Mangosteen was introduced into Trinidad from the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, England, between 1850 and 1860 and the first fruit was borne in 1875. It reached the Panama Canal Zone and Puerto Rico in 1903 but there are only a few trees in these areas: Jamaica, Dominica and Cuba as well as some scattered around other parts of the West Indies. In 1906, the United States Department of Agriculture received seeds from Java. 
In 1939, 15,000 seeds were distributed by the Canal Zone Experiment Gardens to many areas of tropical America. However, It is probable that only a few seedlings survived as many (usually) die during the first year. Dierberger Agricola Ltda., of Sao Paulo, included the mangosteen in their nursery catalog in 1949. A large test block of productive trees has been maintained at the Lancetilla Experimental Station at Tela, Honduras, for many years. Today, the tree is common only in the provinces of Mindanao and Sulu (or Jolo) in the Philippines. It is rare in Queensland, where transplantation has been tried many times since 1854, and poorly represented in tropical Africa (Zanzibar, Ghana, Gabon and Liberia). Quite a few trees that were distributed by the United Fruit Company long ago have done well on the Atlantic coast of Guatemala. 

Despite early trials in Hawaii, the tree has not become well acclimatized and is still rare on those islands. It has been similarly unsuccessful in California. As well, The soil and climate conditions in Florida are very unfavorable for the mangosteen tree. Some plants have been grown for a time in containers in greenhouses. One such tree, growing in a very protected coastal location using special soil, lived to produce a single fruit before dying.

An Ultra Tropical Climate, For An Ultra Delicate Fruit

The mangosteen is ultra-tropical. It cannot tolerate temperatures below 40º F (4.44º C), nor above 100º F (37.78º C). Nursery seedlings are killed at 45º F (7.22º C).

It is limited in Malaysia to elevations below 1,500 ft (450 m). In Madras it grows from 250 to 5,000 ft (76-1,500 m) above sea-level. Attempts to establish it north of 200 latitude have all failed.

It ordinarily requires high atmospheric humidity and an annual rainfall of at least 50 in (127 cm) with no long periods of drought. In Dominica, mangosteen's growing in an area with 80 in (200 cm) of rain yearly required special care, those in another locality, with 105 in (255 cm) and soil with better moisture-holding capacity, flourished.


The tree is not adapted to limestone and does best in deep, rich, organic soil, especially sandy loam or laterite. In India, the most productive specimens are rooted in clay-filled soil which contains much coarse material and a little silt. Sandy alluvial soils are unsuitable and sand low in humus contributes to low yields. The tree needs good drainage and a water table about 6 ft (1.8 m) below ground level. However, in the Canal Zone, productive mangosteen groves have been established where it is too wet for other fruit trees.


Technically, the so-called "seeds" are not true seeds. They are adventitious embryos, or hypocotyl tubercles, in as much as there has been no sexual fertilization. When growth begins, a shoot emerges from one end of the seed and a root from the other end. This original root is short-lived and is replaced by roots that develop at the base of the shoot. The process of reproduction being vegetative, there is naturally little variation in the resulting trees and their fruits. Some of the seeds are polyembryonic, producing more than one shoot. The individual nucellar embryos can be separated, when desired, before planting.

In as much as the percentage of germination is directly related to the weight of the seed, only plump, fully developed seeds should be chosen for planting. Even these will lose viability in 5 days after removal from the fruit, though they are viable for 3 to 5 weeks in the fruit. Seeds packed in lightly dampened peat moss, sphagnum moss or coconut fiber, in airtight containers, have remained viable for 3 months. Only 22% germination has been realized in seeds packed in ground charcoal (for 15 days). Soaking in water for 24 hours expedites and enhances the rate of germination. Generally, sprouting occurs in 20 to 22 days and is complete in 43 days.

Because of the long, delicate taproot and poor lateral root development, transplanting is notoriously difficult. It must not be attempted after the plants reach 2 ft (60 cm). At that time, the depth of the taproot may exceed the height of the tree. There is greater seedling survival when seeds are planted directly in the nursery row than when they're grown in containers first and then transplanted to the nursery. The nursery soil should be at least 3 ft (1 m) deep. The young plants take 2 years or more to reach a height of 12 in (30 cm) which is when they can be taken up with a deep ball of earth and set out. Fruiting may take place in 7 to 9 years from planting, but usually not for 10 or even 20 years.

Conventional vegetative propagation of the mangosteen is difficult. Various methods of grafting have failed. Cuttings and air-layers, with or without growth-promoting chemicals, usually fail to root or result in deformed, short-lived plants. Inarching on different rootstocks appeared promising at first, but incompatibility has become evident with all except G. xanthochymus Hook. f. (G tinctoria Dunn.) or G. lateriflora Bl., now commonly employed in the Philippines.

In Florida, approach-grafting has succeeded only by planting a seed of G. xanthochymus about 1 1/4 in (3 cm) from the base of a mangosteen seedling in a container and, when the stem of the G. xanthochymus seedling has become 1/8 in (3 mm) thick, joining it onto the 3/16 to 1/4 in (5-6 mm) thick stem of the mangosteen at a point about 4 in (10 cm) above the soil. When the graft has healed, the G. xanthochymus seedling is beheaded. The mangosteen will make good progress having both root systems to grow on, while the G. xanthochymus rootstock will develop very little.


Planting is preferably done at the beginning of the rainy season. A spacing of 35 to 40 ft (10.7-12 m) is recommended with pits 4 x 4 x 4 1/2 ft (1.2 x l.2 x l.3 m) prepared at least 30 days in advance, enriched with organic matter and topsoil and left to weather. The young tree is put in place very carefully so as not to injure the root and given a heavy watering. Partial shading with palm fronds or by other means should be maintained for 3 to 5 years. Indian growers give each tree regular feeding with well-rotted manure—100 to 200 lbs (45-90 kg) and peanut meal—10 to 15 lbs (4.5-6.8 kg) total, per year.

Some of the most fruitful mangosteen trees are grown on the banks of streams, lakes, ponds or canals where the roots are almost constantly wet. However, dry weather just before blooming time and during flowering induces a good fruit-set. Where a moist planting site is not available, irrigation ditches should be dug to make it possible to maintain an adequate water supply. The trees should be irrigated almost daily during the dry season.

In Malaysia and Ceylon, it is a common practice to spread a mulch of coconut husks or fronds to retain moisture. It has been suggested that small inner branches be pruned from old, unproductive trees to stimulate bearing. In Thailand, the tree is said to take 12 to 20 years to fruit. In Panama and Puerto Rico, trees grown from large seed and given good care have borne in six years.

Season and Harvesting

At low altitudes in Ceylon, the fruit ripens from May to July; at higher elevations, in July and August or August and September. In India, there are 2 distinct fruiting seasons: one from July to October (the monsoon season) and another from April through June. Puerto Rican trees in full sun fruit in July and August while shaded trees fruit in November and December.

Cropping is irregular and the yield varies from tree to tree and from season to season. The first crop may be 200 to 300 fruits. The average yield of a full-grown tree is about 500 fruits. The yield steadily increases up to the 30th year of bearing when crops of 1,000 to 2,000 fruits may be obtained. In Madras, individual trees between the ages of 20 and 45 years have borne 2,000 to 3,000 pieces of fruit. Productivity gradually declines thereafter, though the tree will still be fruiting at 100 years of age.

Ripeness is gaged by the full development of color and slight softening of the fruit. Picking may be done when the fruits are slightly under ripe, they must be fully mature (developed) or they will not ripen after picking. The fruits must be harvested by hand from ladders or by means of a cutting pole and must not be allowed to fall.

Maintaining Quality

In dry, warm, closed storage, mangosteen can be held 20 to 25 days. Longer periods cause the outer skin to toughen and the rind to become rubbery; later, the rind hardens and becomes difficult to open and the flesh turns dry.

Ripe mangosteen's keep well for 3 to 4 weeks in storage at 40º to 55º F (4.44º-12.78º C). Trials in India have shown that optimum conditions for cold storage are temperatures of 39º to 42º F (3.89º-5.56º C) with a relative humidity of 85 to 90%. This maintain quality for 49 days. It is recommended that the fruits be wrapped in tissue paper and packed 25-to-the-box in light wooden crates with excelsior padding. Fruits picked slightly unripe have been shipped from Burma to the United Kingdom at 50º to 55º F (10º-12.78º C). From 1927 to 1929, trial shipments were made from Java to Holland at 37.4º F (approximately 2.38º C) and the fruits kept in good condition for 24 days.

Pests and Diseases

Few pest problems have been reported. A leaf-eating caterpillar in India may be the same pest as that which attacks new shoots in the Philippines and has been identified there as Orgyra sp. of the tussock moth family, Lymantridae. A small ant, Myrnelachista ramulorum, in Puerto Rico, colonizes the tree, tunnels into the trunk and branches, damaging the new growth. As well, mites sometimes deface the fruit with small bites and scratches. Finally, fully ripe fruits are attacked by monkeys, bats and rats in Asia.

In Puerto Rico, thread blight caused by the fungus Pellicularia koleroga is often seen on branchlets, foliage and fruits of trees in shaded, humid areas. The fruits may become coated with webbing and  thus ruined. In Malaya, the fungus Zignoella garcineae gives rise to "canker"–tuberous growths on the branches which causes a fatal dying-back of foliage, branches and eventually the entire tree. Breakdown in storage is caused by the fungus Diplodia gossypina, Pestalotia sp., Phomopsis sp., Gloeosporium sp., and Rhizopus nigricans.

A major physiological problem called "gamboge" is evidenced by the oozing of latex onto the outer surface of the fruits and onto the branches during periods of heavy and continuous rains. However, It does not affect eating quality. Fruit-cracking may occur because of excessive absorption of moisture: in cracked fruits the flesh will be swollen and mushy. Bruising caused by the force of storms may also be an important factor in both of these abnormalities. In addition to that, fruits exposed to strong sun may also exude latex. Mangosteen's produced in Honduras often have crystal-like "stones" in the flesh which may render the fruit completely inedible.

Xanthones - A More Scientific Look

Xanthones are a unique class of biologically active compounds possessing numerous bioactive capabilities such as their antioxidant properties.

They are a group of plant polyphenols, biosynthetically related to the flavonoids.

  • polyphenol – a group of plant chemical substances characterized by the presence of more than one phenolic group. Polyphenols are responsible for the color of some plants and are considered strong antioxidants with potential health benefits.

  • flavonoid – over 5,000 naturally occurring flavonoids have been characterized from various plants. The beneficial effects of plant-derived food are often attributed to flavonoid compounds, rather than the other nutrients in the food, as the flavonoids show a wide range of biological effects.

  • Chemically speaking, a molecule of xanthones is made up of six carbon atoms in a conjugated ring system consisting of a backbone molecule and various chemical groups attached to it. The backbone consists of two benzene rings bridged through a carbonyl group and oxygen. Each ring is connected in a fused formation, thus, not allowing free rotation about the carbon-carbon bonds. This unique backbone along with the type and position of the attached chemical groups define specific functionalities (properties) of xanthones.

    Alpha-mangostin and Gamma-mangostin

    Among the 40+ xanthones found in the whole mangosteen fruit, alpha-mangostin and gamma-mangostin have been the main subject of many studies by researchers around the world. These two xanthones have been shown to be very effective as anti-inflammatory agents.

    One research study showed that they were even more potent than several anti-inflammatory medications used for arthritis and gout.

    These xanthones in the mangosteen help stop inflammation by inhibiting the body's production of the COX-2 enzyme and blocking the process that leads to inflammation. And they do this without affecting the blood's clotting mechanism or damaging the stomach lining (which can cause ulcers) as most anti-inflammatory medications do.

    One study showed that the xanthones even helped heal stomach ulcers.

    Scientists demonstrated that alpha-mangostin and gamma-mangostin proved to be stronger antioxidants than other compounds known for their antioxidant properties.

    Alpha-mangostin: a xanthone derivative from the mangosteen. It was found by scientists to have effective chemopreventive effects in their short-term colon carcinogenesis bioassay system. Their findings suggest that longer exposure to alpha-mangostin may suppress the development of tumors.

    In another study on alpha-mangostin's effects on human leukemia cells, results indicated that alpha-mangostin would be helpful in the prevention and treatment of cancer.

    Alpha-mangostin was also proven to have strong antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus.

    Scientists demonstrated alpha-mangostin's activity against vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

    They found that alpha-mangostin, alone or in combination with gentamicin, against vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) and used in combination with vancomycin hydrochloride against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) might be useful in controlling VRE and MRSA infections.

    Further studies shown that alpha-mangostin works well with and enhances the effects of other commercially available antibiotics such as ampicillin and minocycline.

    In another laboratory experiment, scientists studied the antimicrobial activity of alpha-mangostin and found that it possesses strong inhibitory effects against Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

    Researchers also found that alpha-mangostin is a histaminergic receptor-blocking agent: alpha-mangostin is effective in preventing or stopping allergies.

    Gamma-mangostin: Scientists demonstrated that gamma-mangostin proved to be a stronger antioxidant than other compounds long known for their antioxidant properties.

    Medical researchers in Thailand and Taiwan discovered that gamma-mangostin was shown to have even more potent antioxidant activity than vitamin E, one of the most powerful antioxidants known to science.

    Even more than just being powerful antioxidants, gamma-mangostin has been shown to help with a wide variety of major health issues.

    Oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad" cholesterol) is one of the main causes of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Lower levels of LDL means lower chances of getting heart disease.

    Australian scientists studied gamma-mangostin in experiments using LDL and powerful oxidants. Their study showed that gamma-mangostin successfully protected the LDL from oxidation by free radicals. This helps prevent the creation of plaques and the clogging of arteries that lead to heart disease.

    Moreover, gamma-mangostin was shown to provide the benefit of lowering LDL without the potentially serious side effects of anti-cholesterol drugs (such as liver damage or drug-induced hepatitis and muscle-tissue damage).

    Gamma-mangosteen has been proven to be a very effective anti-inflammatory agent.

    Scientists have shown that it significantly slowed down the body's production of the cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme: a key player in inflammatory conditions and the enzyme prescription grade arthritis drugs fight against.

    Controlling COX-2 production has been found to be an important factor in reducing inflammation and pain.

    In a recent study (Nakatani, K. et al), Japanese scientists led by K. Nakatani concluded that gamma-mangostin would be a new useful lead compound for the development of anti-inflammatory drugs.

    Gamma-mangostin helps stop inflammation by inhibiting the body's production of the COX-2 enzyme that leads to inflammation: It blocks the inflammatory process.

    One highly prized property gamma-mangostin possesses is its ability to provide this benefit without affecting blood clotting or damaging the stomach lining, two of the potential side effects caused by most anti-inflammatory drugs.

    Scientists also proved that gamma-mangostin limits the body's production of the COX-2 enzyme without causing ulcers. In fact, their study showed that gamma-mangostin even helped heal stomach ulcers.

    One study also suggested that the anti-inflammatory effects of gamma-mangostin on brain cells may have potential in addressing inflammatory conditions of the brain. Alzheimer's Disease is one example of these inflammatory conditions.

    About 150 million people worldwide have asthma, and about 40 percent of people in developed countries suffer from allergies. Several studies have shown gamma-mangostin as a possible natural antihistamine that can be used to treat allergies such as asthma and psoriasis.

    In another study, Japanese scientists found that gamma-mangostin is a 5-HT2A receptor antagonist in the central nervous system which indicates it has potential for helping with depression and/or other anxiety symptoms.

    The power of gamma-mangostin to help with a variety of health issues, as well as its unique anti-inflammatory properties, makes it one of the most admired xanthones in mangosteen.

    The Other Xanthones & Properties in Mangosteen

    Scientists found that alpha-mangostin, beta-mangostin, and garcinone B were strong inhibitors of mycobacterium tuberculosis.

    Researchers investigating the effects of the mangosteen xanthones on the HIV-1 virus found that mangostin and gamma-mangostin demonstrated the ability to inhibit the activity of the HIV-1 virus that causes AIDS.

    Mangostin was also found to have the ability to protect the LDL from oxidative damage by free radicals. This helps control and lower "bad cholesterol" (LDL) levels and so assists in preventing the clogging of arteries (which leads to heart disease).

    Xanthones also have cancer-fighting properties. In one study, a xanthone from the mangosteen—Garcinone E—was found to be more effective than the chemotherapy agents flouraurcil, cisplatin, vincristine, methotrexate, and mitoxantrone in killing lung, stomach, and liver cancer cells.

    Xanthones also have the ability to stop histamines that often cause uncomfortable inflammation in people with allergies.

    The xanthones in mangosteen were also proven to have antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, and antiviral properties. Moreoever, xanthones do not cause bacterial resistance as antibiotic drugs do. This allows for the effective use of antibiotics when required for more urgent situations.

    The other xanthones in mangosteen:

    Fruit: CCO
    1FAT Seed 1,000 - 34,285 ppm JFM
    ASCORBIC-ACID Fruit 10 - 255 ppm CRC JFM
    ASH Fruit 2,000 - 13,140 ppm JFM
    BETA-MANGOSTIN Latex Exudate 20,000 ppm; CCO
    BETULIN Leaf 250 ppm; JAD
    CALCIUM Fruit 100 - 637 ppm CRC JFM
    CARBOHYDRATES Fruit 143,000 - 960,000 ppm JFM
    CATECHINS Fruit 50,000 - 60,000 ppm HHB Petiole 700,000 - 140,000 ppm WOI
    CIS-S-3-HEXEN-1-OL Fruit: CCO
    CITRIC-ACID Fruit 4,200 - 27,815 ppm WOI
    FAT Seed 30,000 ppm; WOI
    FIBER Fruit 50,000 - 318,000 ppm JFM

    ARCINONES Petiole: CCO

    IRON Fruit 2 - 46 ppm JFM
    KILOCALORIES Fruit 600 - 3,630 /kg CRC JFM
    MANGOSTIN Fruit: HHB Latex Exudate 300,000 - 500,000 ppm CCO
    Fruit: CCO
    NIACIN Fruit 6 - 38 ppm CRC
    PECTIN Fruit 1,000 - 5,000 ppm JFM WOI
    PHOSPHORUS Fruit 100 - 685 ppm CRC JFM
    PHYTIN Fruit 1,190 - 6,560 ppm JFM
    POTASSIUM Fruit 1,350 - 8,560 ppm CRC
    PROTEIN Fruit 5,000 - 34,285 ppm JFM
    RIBOFLAVIN Fruit 0.2 - 1.3 ppm CRC
    SODIUM Fruit 10 - 64 ppm CRC
    SUGARS Fruit 164,200 - 960,000 ppm JFM WOI
    THIAMIN Fruit 0.3 - 1.9 ppm CRC JFM
    WATER Fruit 802,000 - 849,000 ppm JFM
    ppm = parts per million
    tr = trace

    Chemical Constituents of Oriental Herbs (3 diff. books)
    CRC: CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs and/or CRC Handbook of Proximate Analyses

    JAD: Duke, J. A. Writeups or information summaries on approximately 2,000 economic plants, USDA, ARS, Beltsville, MD 20705.

    JFM: Morton, J.F., Major Medicinal Plants. 1977. Atlas of Medicinal Plants of Middle America. Bahamas to Yucatan. 1981.
    HHB: List, P.H. and Horhammer, L., Hager's Handbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, Vols. 2-6, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1969-1979.

    WOI: ANON. 1948-1976. The Wealth of India raw materials. Publications and Information Directorate, CSIR, New Delhi. 11 volumes.

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