Mangosteen fruit


Latin name: Garcinia mangostana

 Family: Guttiferae.

Common names: Mangosteen (the English derived from olden Malay, manggusta or

manggistanl). In Portuguese it is called mangostao (Feijao) [Burkill]. Sinhalese: Mangus; Tamil:

Sulambali; Hindi: Mangustan [Jayaweera]. Manggis (Sul.), mangostan (Tag.) [Quisumbing].

German: Maogostane; Hind & Ben: Mangustan; Bom., Guj., and Mah.: Mangostin, Mengut,

Mangastin, Mangustan; Burm: Mengkop, Mengut. Mimbu, Young-zalai; Mal.: Mangusta;

Malay: Mangusta; Kon.: Tavir; French: Mangostan [Dey; Nadkarnis & Nadkarnis].

Mangostan (Tagalog, Samar-Leyte Bisaya, Bikol, Hiligaynon, Cebu Bisaya, Manobo);

Mangosta (Iloko); Kadiis; Kanabla (Cebu Bisaya); Manggis (Tausug, Sulu)

Mangosteen (Chabakano). The fruit is often called the ‘Queen of Fruits’


Description: The plant was an import from Indonesia [Abbiw]. It is a tree 7-8 m high with dense

heavy profusely branched crown, known only from cultivation in SE Asia and subsequently

taken by man to other parts of the tropics. A constantly humid climate is required.


The leaves are leathery. The timber is dark-brown, rather hard and heavy and the inner bark

yellowish. The petioles are short and thick.  The flowers are 5 centimeters in diameter, 4-

parted, bisexual, and borne singly or in pairs at the ends of the branchlets. The seeds are

large, flattened- and embedded in snowy-white or pinkish delicious pulp, which is botanically

called the aril. Dried fruits are shipped from Singapore to Calcutta and to China for medicinal


The fruit is the mangosteen, rated one of the most delectable of the tropics and pulp gives the fruit its reputation as one of the finest and most delicious of fruits. Good fruits may attain 6-7 cm in diameter and contain 5-7 seed surrounded by a white, sweet and succulent flesh [Burkill; Quisumbing]. The fruit is a rounded berry 5 to 7 centimeters in diameter, smooth, and dark purple.  The rind is firm, spongy, thick, and full of yellow, resinous juice.

Distribution: Central Provinces, Peradeniya. Indigenous to Malaya and cultivated in the west coast of India and Ceylon. It is a common fruit tree in most village gardens in Ceylon, both in the midand wet low-country [Jayaweera]. Mangostan is usually found planted in parts of Mindanao and in the Sulu Archipelago, and occasionally in other regions, ranging at least as far as Sorsogon. It was purposely introduced into the Philippines from Malaya [Quisumbing]. It is a native of the Straights, Settlements and Singapore.

Escape to British Burma, Malayan Peninsular (Malay Archipelago) and the Madras Presidency [Nadkarni and Nadkarni]. 

Chemical composition: Tannin is obtained from the bark [Abbiw]. The fruit shell contains 7-13% tannin and the seeds contain 3% oil [Burkill]. The rind of the fruit contains tannin, a resin and a bitter principle called mangostin (Fig.1). The edible aril contains saccharose, dextrose and kerrelose [Jayaweera]. The rind contains 5.5 per cent of tannin, and a resin as well as a yellow crystalline bitter principle, mangostin (C20H22O5) or mangosim  [Nadkarni & Nadkarni] isolated from the rind.  It was reported that the flesh of the fruit (aril) contains saccharose 10.8%, dextrose 1%, and kerrelose 1.2%. The seeds are reported to contain vitamin C [Quisumbing]. From a methanolic extract of mangosteen leaves a new flavour compound, 2-ethyl-3-methylmaleimide N-beta-D-glucopyranoside was found [Krajewski et al]. The rind is rich in pectin. 


Food use: The round dark purple-brown fruit looks rather like a smooth small oddly colouredcricket ball. The juicy flesh of the Mangosteen is similar to that of a lychee [Bastyra andCanning]. Mangosteen is apple-shaped with dark leathery skin which ripens to a deep purple.Cooking kills the delicate flavour and texture. Low in vitamin C, eaten for flavour notvitamin content [Daily Mail]. The kernels can be ground to produce a vegetable butter[Burkill].

 Antifungal use: The antifungal activity of several xanthones isolated from fruit hulls of G.mangostana (collected from Tamil Nadu, India) and some derivatives of mangostin againstFusarium oxysporum f.sp. vasinfectum, Alternaria tenuis [A. alternata] and Drechsleraoryzae [Cochliobolus miyabeanus] was evaluated. The natural xanthones inhibited thegrowth of all the fungi. Substitution in the A and C rings modified the bioactivities of thecompounds [Geetha et al; Gopalakrishnan et al]. Antibacterial: Extracts of Garcinia mangostana showed inhibitory effects against thegrowth of Staph. aureus NIHJ 209p and some of the components had activity againstmethicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). One active isolate, α-mangostin, axanthone derivative, had a minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of 1.57-12.5 ug/ml.Other related xanthones were also examined to determine their anti-MRSA activity.

The  strong in-vitro antibacterial activity of xanthone derivatives against both methicillin-resistantand methicillin-sensitive S. aureus suggested the compounds might find wide pharmaceuticaluse [Iinuma et al]. 

Anti-inflammatory: G. mangostana fruit hulls are used as an antiinflammatory agent[Chairungsrilerd et al], astringent and to treat diarrhoea. The fruit hull of mangosteen,Garcinia mangostana has been used as a Thai indigenous medicine for many years. The 40%ethanol extract of mangosteen has potent inhibitory activities of both histamine release andprostaglandin E2 synthesis [Nakatani et al].

 Antioxidant: In the course of a search for natural antioxidants, the methanol extract of thefruit hulls of mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana L.) originating in Vietnam was found toexhibit a potent radical scavenging effect. By monitoring this radical scavenging effect, twoxanthones, alpha- and gamma-mangostins, were isolated, together with (-)-epicatechin andprocyanidins A-2 and B-2, as active principles. The antioxidant activity of the two xanthoneswas measured by the ferric thiocyanate method; gamma-mangostin was more active thanbutylhydroxyanisol and alpha-tocopherol [Yoshikawa]. A paper entitled “Antioxidantactivities of some tropical fruits” [Guan, Tan Tze, Whiteman, Matthew] but source unknownalso confirmed the benefits of Mangosteen as an antioxidant.

 Cosmetic uses: The technical data and scientific studies confirm that this extract is anexcellent choice for antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. Theseare exactly the conditions encountered in acne-prone skin where soaps, creams and washesideally suit the use of the extract.   Made into an ointment, it is applied on eczema and other skin disorders [Morton]. The traditional oral use also suggests the use of this plant in herbal toothpastes for good oral


 Medical uses: It is used to prepare astringent medicines for use in dysentery, enteritis, [Burkill].The rind of the fruit, which contains resin, is used in diarrhoea and dysentery. The bark andyoung leaves are also used for the same purpose and for ailments of the genito-urinary tracts[Jayaweera]. In Cambodia, the bark and the rind of the fruit are used for diarrhoea and dysenteryas astringents. The bark and young leaves are employed by the Macassars in diarrhoea.,dysentery [Quisumbing].

The rind is also used as an astringent medicine for diarrhoea anddysentery.  It has been found very useful in chronic diarrhoea in children.  The value of therind lies in the yellow resin which may act as a stimulant to the intestines.   A decoction of the powdered rind is used as an external astringent application [Quisumbing;Nadkarni and Nadkarni; Morton] as are the bark and young leaves. 

The pericarp is regarded as very efficacious in curing chronic intestinal catarrh [Quisumbing]and the fleshy pericarp is a valuable astringent [Drury] and has been successfully employedin the advanced stages of dysentery and in chronic diarrhoea as well as for a strong decoctionas an external astringent application in dysentery [Drury].   

  A decoction of the roots is drunk in dysmenorrhoea [Quisumbing].   It is used for affections of the genito-urinary tracts [Quisumbing]. It also has anti-tubercular action with α- and β-mangostins and garcinone B which exhibitedstrong inhibitory effect against Mycobacterium tuberculosis with the minimum inhibitoryconcentration value of 6.25 µg/ml [Suksamrarn]. Filipinos employ a decoction of the leaves and bark as a febrifuge and to treat thrush,diarrhoea, dysentery and urinary disorders. In Malaya, an infusion of the leaves, combinedwith unripe banana and a little benzoin is applied to the wound of circumcision. A rootdecoction is taken to regulate menstruation. A bark extract called “amibiasine”, has beenmarketed for the treatment of amoebic dysentery [Morton]. The rind of partially ripe fruits yields a polyhydroxy-xanthone derivative termed mangostin,also ß-mangostin. That of fully ripe fruits contains the xanthones, gartanin, 8-disoxygartanin,and normangostin. A derivative of mangostin, mangostine- 6-di-O-glucoside, is a centralnervous system depressant and causes a rise in blood pressure [Morton]. 

Oral uses: In Ghana it is said to be used for chew-sticks [Burkill] and also as a wash for aphthaeof the mouth [Jayaweera]. The leaves and the bark are used as an astringent for aphthae andalso as a febrifuge [Quisumbing].   It has been the subject of part of a patent application. “A composition in the form of abiodegradable gel, chip or ointment is provided, for adjunct treatment of periodontitis,comprising: (i) an antimicrobial extract having antimicrobial or antibacterial activityagainst periodontal pathogens, preferably from one or more of the plants Andrographis paniculata,mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) and turmeric (Curcuma longa); and (ii) a gel basecontaining a mixture of glyceryl monooleate and triglyceride. The composition isbiodegradable, and forms a liquid crystal structure on contacting gingival fluid,which liquid crystal structure releases active ingredients gradually, to provide a sustainedrelease dosage form.” [U.S. Patent]

 Other uses: It can be used for tanning. In Malaya the shell is used to obtain a black dye[Burkill]. Pharmacology: It has been used for many years as a medicine for treatment of skin infection,wounds, and diarrhoea in Southeast Asia. The effect of γ-mangostin, a tetraoxygenateddiprenylated xanthone contained in mangosteen was examined, on arachidonic acid (AA)cascade in C6 rat glioma cells. The study demonstrated that γ-mangostin, a xanthonederivative, directly inhibited COX activity. Doses   Preparations: (all of the rind): Extract, dose 3 to 10 grains; Tincture (1 in 10), dose: 1/2 to 1drachm; Syrup (1 in 10), dose: 1/2 to 1 drachm; Decoction (1 in 10), dose: 4 ounces; Powder,dose: 10 to 60 grains and juice [Nadkarni and Nadkarni]. Local Recipes Rind and pulp or entire dried fruit are employed as specific remedies in chronic diarrhoeaand dysentery, usually in the form of a syrup, the drug being boiled in water, strained and thedecoction evaporated to a suitable consistence and then sugar added. A decoction of the rindwith a little cumin and coriander added is also useful in doses of 4 ounces twice a day withor without the addition of 5 to 10 minims of tincture of opium to each dose; sugar or syrupmay also be added to it just to make it palatable. Mangosteen fruit may also be employed inpowder given in doses of 10 to 15 grains in port wine, or made into a paste with a littlesugar; in either form it may be unproved by the addition of aromatics, such as cardamomand cinnamon powder 5 to 10 grains to each dose. Fruit is regarded as a remedy inleucorrhoea, gonorrhoea and gleet and is stated to lessen both the irritation and the

discharge of matter [confirmed Morton].

References Abbiw, D.K.: Useful plants of Ghana – West African use of wild and cultivated plants.Intermediate Technology Publications and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. 1990. ISBN No.1-85339-043-7 or 1-85339-080-1 Hardback).   Asai, F; Tosa, H; Tanaka, T; Iinuma, M. A xanthone from pericarps of Garcinia mangostana.Phytochemistry (1995) 39(4): 943-944. Bastyra, Judy; Canning, Julie: A gourmets book of fruit, published by Salamar BooksISBN NO. 86101-421-9. Burkill, H.M.: The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. Edition 2. Vol. 2. Families E-I.Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. 1994. ISBN No. 0-947643-56-7.   Chairungsrilerd, N; Takeuchi, K; Ohizumi, Y; Nozoe, S; Ohta, T. Mangostanol, a prenylxanthone from Garcinia mangostana. Phytochemistry (1996) 43(5): 1099-1102.   Daily Mail, Tuesday 6th October 1992 “Discreet Charm of the Sharon fruit.   Dey, Kanny Lall: The indigenous drugs of India – short descriptive notices of the principalmedicinal plants met with in British India. 2nd edition. Thacker, Spink & Co. 1896. Calcutta.ISBN No. not available. Drury, Colonel Heber: The useful plants of India; with notices of their chief medicinal valuein commerce, medicine and the arts. Higginbotham and Co. Madras. 1873. ISBN No. notavailable.      


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