The Mangosteen (Garcinia Mangostana) is a member of the Guttiferae family. In Europe and North America, the most recognisable member of this family is the popular herb St. John's wort. Most of the Guttiferaes are tropical trees and shrubs that secrete an acrid yellow resinous juice. Mangosteen should not be confused with mango, an entirely different plant.
There are wild mangosteen trees in the forests of Malaysia. Some experts say the trees were first domesticated in Thailand or Burma. The plant is considered "ultra-tropical" and sensitive nursery seedlings die at less than 45F / 7C. There has been little success growing these five-metre high trees anywhere that is not almost directly on the equator.
In Jamaica, the mangosteen is regarded as pleasant but overrated; not comparable to a good field-ripe pineapple or a choice mango.
The mangosteen fruit is the size of a small apple, purple coloured, and with a hard rind. Inside there are usually five to seven seeds surrounded by a sweet, juicy cover (or aril). The pulp, which is similar to a mix of strawberry, pineapple and peach in taste, is delicious. In Asia it is sometimes called the queen of fruits in honour both of its flavour and economic importance.
For centuries, mangosteen has been used in traditional medicines. The Chinese have imported dried mangosteens from Singapore for many years. The sliced and dried rind is powdered and used for dysentery. The rind decoction is taken to relieve diarrhoea, cystitis, thrush, urinary disorders and gonorrhoea. A root decoction is taken to regulate menstruation. As an ointment it is used for eczema and other skin disorders.
The rind of partially ripe fruits contains the polyhydroxy-xanthone derivatives mangostin and beta-mangostin. That of fully ripe fruits contains the xanthones, gartanin, 8-desoxygartanin, and normangostin. A derivative of mangostin, mangostin-e, 6-di-O-glucoside, is a central nervous system depressant and causes a rise in blood pressure.
The mangosteen has antibacterial, antiseptic and fungicidal properties, and is also an antioxidant source. It is the rind, not he pulp of the mangosteen fruit that has the greatest value. After processing, the extract is mixed with other fruit juices for taste. The primary value of this extract is that it seems to be a powerful and wide-spectrum anti-oxidant. However, at this stage there is not a lot of credible research available.
Mangosteen juice is often sold through multi-level or network marketing systems. This makes it difficult to get unbiased information about the product in question. Suppliers sell to their own friends, relatives and neighbours. The more people they can recruit into their network the more money they make. Their product supplier provides them with seemingly objective newsletters, press releases and websites. A successful marketing network is based on scientific-sounding evidence, coupled with a credible and compelling story, a doctor who is willing to endorse the product, and finally some patients (who may themselves be distributors) willing to testify that the product led to astounding cures. Aloe vera, colloidal minerals, gingko biloba, ginseng and noni juice have all been successfully sold this way. This method of marketing makes them expensive.
I know several people who have been drinking it regularly, and all feel well on it. Only one of them attributes a significant improvement in her health to the mangosteen - unfortunately she is also selling it.
My summary on mangosteen juice is that it is unlikely to do you any harm unless you suffer from diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or candida (which unfortunately, includes most people). This is because of the fruit sugars that are often added to increase the sweetness and improve the flavour.
Depending on your particular ailments and anti-oxidant needs, mangosteen juice could assist with your healing and increased energy levels. Remain skeptical and keep a written log of when you take it and any effects you notice.
In Australia, fresh imported mangosteens are often available from grocers in season, and this is a better way of getting the beneficial compounds from this fruit.