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Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD

Scientific Name:

Garcinia mangostana

Botanical Family:


Other Common Name:

Queen of fruits, mang cut, mangostan, sementah, san zhu (Quattrocchi, 2012; Morton, 1987).

Common names in Spanish:

Mangostán, mangostáno (Quattrocchi, 2012; Morton, 1987; Liogier, 1974).

Where is it found?

This slow growing tree is native to Asia and can be found in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia, among other countries. It is also grown in some parts of tropical America, including Costa Rica (Quattrocchi, 2012; Mabberley, 2008; Sancho and Baraona, 2007).

Parts of the plant used:

The leaves, bark, fruit, seeds, and root.

How is it used?

The roots, leaves, bark, and fruit rind (peel or pericarp) are used both internally as well as externally to treat a great array of diseases. Various supplements including capsules, pills, and Mangosteen fruit juice are available in various health food stores.

What is it used for?

The fruits have a delicious taste and are highly nutritious as well as medicinal. The rind of the fruit is astringent. It is dried, powdered, and taken internally as a treatment for dysentery. Externally the rind is applied as an ointment to treat various skin problems including eczema. The rind is boiled in water (decocted) and taken as a tea for diarrhea, cystitis, gonorrhea, and “gleet” (a watery discharge from the urethra caused by gonorrhea). A decoction for the leaves and bark is used to lower fevers as well as to treat fungal candidiasis (thrush), diarrhea, dysentery and urinary problems. A tea made from the leaves combined with an unripe banana is applied externally to treat circumcision wounds. A root decoction is taken as a tea to regulate menstruation. The fruits contain various active ingredients including xanthones. (Quattrocchi, 2012; Wiart, 2002; Morton, 1987; Perry and Metzger, 1980).

Recent studies have found that mangosteen is a promising source of natural anticancer agents (Onodera et al., 2016; Kim et al., 2015; Seo et al., 2015; Li et al., 2014; Shan et al., 2014).
Onodera et al (2016) identified and purified and eight xanthones from mangosteen in order to ascertain if these phytochemical compounds inhibited the activities of mammalian DNA polymerases and human DNA topoisomerases. The results of the study demonstrated that the compound know as β-mangostin was the strongest inhibitor of both mammalian polymerases and human topoisomerases within the isolated xanthones. Additionally, β-mangostin showed the strongest suppression of human cervical cancer HeLa cell proliferation. The authors of the study concluded that β-mangostin might be a promising natural anticancer agent that could be useful as a chemotherapeutic agent.

A clinical study by Udani et al. (2009) found that a commercial juice made form mangosteen fruit lowered inflammation among the study participants, and showed promise for the treatment of obesity. Additionally, recent data suggest that supplements made from mangosteen fruit rind may have a role in the treatment of overweight and obesity (Saiyed et al., 2015).

Mangosenone F (MSF) is one of many natural xanthone compounds identified and isolated from mangosteen. Some studies have reported this compound possesses a glycosidase inhibitor effect. A study by Seo et al. (2015) evaluated the potential anti lung cancer effect of MSF both in vitro as well as in vivo. The compound was found to inhibit cancer cell cytotoxicity and elicited apoptosis (programmed cell death) by means of generating free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS). These results showed that MSF could be a potential candidate for a natural anticancer pharmaceutical, since it promotes ROS production.

Gartanin is one of various xanthone compounds isolated from mangosteen. This compound possesses powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and anticancer effects. A study by Kim et al (2015) evaluated the cytotoxic effect of gartanin on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), known to be the third leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. The study revealed that gartanin elicited autophagy in various cancer cells. In addition, gartanin promoted the formation of autophagosomes and autolysosomes and augmented the degradation rate of intracellular organelles, such as mitochondria, among others. Another salient feature was that gartanin promoted programmed cell death or apoptosis of the cancer cells. The researchers concluded that gartanin could be a potential anticancer agent of natural origin.

A study proposed that α-mangostin, an important bioactive compound isolated from the mangosteen fruit, is responsible for exerting a biological effect on prostate cancer cells. Two human prostate cancer cell lines were treated with α-mangostin. This compound significantly suppressed tumor growth without apparent toxicity. The results of the study also suggested that α-mangostin is not the only active ingredient contained in the mangosteen fruit, therefore requiring further research in order to comprehend the complex chemical composition of this plant (Li et al., 2014).

A study by Shan et al. (2014) investigated the anti-tumor effects against human gastric adenocarcinoma cells in vitro, of an important xanthone compound known as α-mangostin, isolated from the fruit peel (pericarp) of mangosteen. The study also evaluated the compound’s possible mechanisms of action. Treatment with α-mangostin decreased the viability of the cancer cells in a dose and time dependent manner. The researchers concluded that the anti-tumor effects of α-mangostin versus the human gastric adenocarcinoma cells could be partially ascribed to its interference with an intercellular signaling pathway known as Stat3, as well as promoting apoptosis or programmed cell death.


Safety / Precautions


  • Mangosteen’s safety during pregnancy and lactation has not been established.
  • Certain companies that market mangosteen supplements, especially mangosteen fruit juice, have made various claims pertaining to its purported beneficial health benefits. Lobb (2012) opines that some of the research data mentioned in the commercial ads may not possess the desired quality in order to back such claims, and therefore be misleading to the consumer.

Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with your health care professional first. Avoid self-diagnosis and self-medication: Always be on the safe side!



Kim MO, Lee HS, Chin YW, Moon DO, Ahn JS. Gartanin induces autophagy through JNK activation which extenuates caspase-dependent apoptosis. Oncol Rep. 2015;34(1):139-46. doi: 10.3892/or.2015.3948.

Li G, Petiwala SM, Nonn L, Johnson JJ. Inhibition of CHOP accentuates the apoptotic effect of α-mangostin from the mangosteen fruit (Garcinia mangostana) in 22Rv1 prostate cancer cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014; 453(1):75-80. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2014.09.054.

Liogier HA. Diccionario Botánico de Nombres Vulgares de la Española.
Santo Domingo: UNPHU; 1974: p. 461.

Lobb AL. Science in liquid dietary supplement promotion: the misleading case of mangosteen juice. Hawaii J Med Public Health. 2012 ;71(2):46-8.

Mabberley D. Mabberley’s Plant Book 3rd ed.
London: Cambridge University Press; 2008; pp. 558-559.

Morton J F. Fruits of Warm Climates.
Miami, FL: Florida Flair Books; 1987; pp. 301-304.

Onodera T, Takenaka Y, Kozaki S, Tanahashi T, Mizushina Y. Screening of mammalian DNA polymerase and topoisomerase inhibitors from Garcinia mangostana L. and analysis of human cancer cell proliferation and apoptosis.
Int J Oncol. 2016; 48(3):1145-54. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2016.3321.

Perry LM, Metzger J. Medicinal Plants of East and Southeast Asia.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; 1980; pp 174-175.

Quattrocchi, U. World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants (Vol. 3).
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2012; pp. 297-298.

Sancho E, Baraona M. Tropical Fruits of Costa Rica 3rd ed.
San José, Costa Rica: Distribuidores Zona Tropical; 2007; pp. 71-72.

Saiyed ZM, Sengupta K, Krishnaraju AV, Trimurtulu G, Lau FC, Lugo JP. Safety and toxicological evaluation of Meratrim®: an herbal formulation for weight management.
Food Chem Toxicol. 2015;78:122-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2015.02.010.

Seo KH, Ryu HW, Park MJ, Park KH, Kim JH, Lee MJ, Kang HJ, Kim SL, Lee JH, Seo WD. Mangosenone F, A Furanoxanthone from Garciana mangostana, Induces Reactive Oxygen Species-Mediated Apoptosis in Lung Cancer Cells and Decreases Xenograft Tumor Growth. Phytother Res. 2015; 29(11):1753-60. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5428.

Shan T, Cui XJ, Li W, Lin WR, Lu HW, Li YM, Chen X, Wu T. α-Mangostin suppresses human gastric adenocarcinoma cells in vitro via blockade of Stat3 signaling pathway.
Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2014; 35(8):1065-73. doi: 10.1038/aps.2014.43.

Udani JK, Singh BB, Barrett ML, Singh VJ. Evaluation of Mangosteen juice blend on biomarkers of inflammation in obese subjects: a pilot, dose finding study.
Nutr J. 2009 ;8:48. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-8-48.

Wiart C. Medicinal Plants of Southeast Asia 2nd ed.
Kuala Lumpur: Pearson/Prentice Hall Malaysia; 2002; pp. 82-83.