Garcinia mangostanaL., simply called “the mangosteen” in everyday speech, belongs to the Guttiferae family. It is a slow-growing erect tree, which reaches 80 feet in height. It has a dark-brown flaking bark, covering the inner part of the trunk, which contains yellow gummy latex. The evenly situated side branches form a pyramidal crown.
Mangosteen evergreen leaves are leathery and fleshy, shining dark green on the upper side and dull underneath. They are elliptic with acuminate tips. The specific feature of the new leaves is their beautiful rosy color.
During the flowering period the tips of the mangosteen branches are covered by the clusters of 3-9 wide and fleshy flowers.
Mangosteen fruit is what the tree is, actually, praised for. It is approximately the size of a tangerine. The outer covering of the fruit is a thick purple rind, which, however, is purplish-white on the inside. It contains bitter yellow latex and purple juice. Inside there are 4 to 8 segments of snow-white juicy flesh, which is soft, very aromatic, and absolutely delicious. The tasty flesh is the “bed” of the ovoid-oblong flattened seeds.
The exact origin of the mangosteen is not known. It is believed that the tree indigenous to the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas. These days it is cultivated in Thailand, India, Ceylon, southern Vietnam and Burma, as well as throughout Malaya and Singapore.
Since mangosteen is an ultra-tropical tree, it is best and most extensively grown in the more humid parts of Asiatic Tropics. Actually, it grows well on the banks of the streams, lakes, and ponds; however, it is said that good drainage is a must for mangosteen. The tree needs deep, rich organic soil, sandy loam, laterite, or fertile clay.
Mangosteen is sensitive of the strong winds and temperatures below 40º F (4.44º C), or above 100º F (37.78º C). It prefers full sun or light, afternoon shade.
The tree with so tasty fruits is propagated by seeds. The flowering period and the ripening of the fruits depend on the country, altitude, and climate in general. The first crop may appear (about 300 fruits) in 7-9 years after planting; though, it usually takes 10 or even 20 years for the tree to mature. Average number of fruits of the grown tree is about 500; however, the yield continues to increase up to the 30th year of bearing. The number of fruits diminishes after the 45th year; still, mangosteen can give fruits up to the age of 100.
No doubt that the sweet flesh of the mangosteen fruit is the tastiest part; however, since ancient times people believed that the use of the whole mangosteen fruit, especially its rind, is beneficial for the overall health. In addition, tree root and bark are also used for medicinal purposes.
Though mangosteen is available in the form of capsules filled with dried powdered rind, juice products are far more widely used.
The fruit of mangosteen is rich in iron, fiber and carbs. The special attention and the biggest hopes are, however, laid on the xanthones – polyphenolic compounds with the mighty antioxidant properties. They are capable of enhancing the immune system and helping the body fight free radicals, thus postponing the process of aging, promoting overall health, fighting off the diseases and increasing the resistance against viruses and bacteria.
Scientists know about two hundred types of xanthons for the time being; more than forty (by the way, the most useful, as it is confirmed) are found in the mangosteen fruit. That explains why it is said to be so effective and promising in the treatment of multiple diseases.
Mangosteen fruit products are used to treat skin disorders, like eczema; urinary disorders; diarrhoea; and gonorrhoea. Fruits, as well as bark extracts, are effective in overcoming dysentery. Root decoction is used to regulate menstruations.
Recent research shows that mangosteen may be effective in treating cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes. It is also thought to be a good pain-reliever, capable to eliminate headache, arthritis, or any other pain.
Due to its antioxidant activity mangosteen can improve the state of the whole organism, promoting vitality, longevity, and the increase of energy levels.
In general, mangosteen possesses anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties. Although scientists note that more research is necessary to evaluate and discover all the power of mangosteen, it is prized by many people all over the world, it is valued by those who claim to have already obtained visible positive results of the “Quinn of the fruits” impact on their health.