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The Dark and Exotic Chinese Herb Mangosteen - Information and Benefits

The term "mangosteen" refers to the Purple Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) over the other members of the mangosteen genus. The Purple Mangosteen, also considered as a Chinese herb, is the most widely-known of this group. The fruit has is round, has deep purple skin, a thick rind that pales to white farther from the skin surface, and fleshy innards. The soft flesh within the rind is that which is eaten, and it can be described as sweet and tangy, with an aroma and texture reminiscent of peaches. The sections of edible flesh contain the seeds. The rind secretes a bitter liquid when squeezed, along with a purple juice. Eaters must be wary of both, as the bitter sap might affect the taste and the dark juice could stain cloth or skin and nails.

Mangosteen details

Mangosteen fruits grow on trees that grow up to 20 to 80 feet (7 to 25 meters) tall. The plant is ultra-tropical, meaning it will not grow except within the tropical band extending for a few degrees both ways from the equator. Exposure to temperatures below 40 Thus, it is mostly grown in Southeast and South Asian nations like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippine Islands and India, where the climate is consistently warm all year long. Mangosteens do not grow in China, and it has only become readily available there in recent times. As such, its role in traditional Chinese herbs medicine was limited by its rarity. These days, Chinatowns around the world now offer mangosteens seasonally.

The origins of the mangosteen are rather unclear

It is believed that they came from the Indonesian peninsula, but the exact history of its spread and cultivation are unclear. Mangosteens are also grown in Australia now, but most of the world's mangosteens still come from the tropical regions of Asia. No doubt it is the sweet flesh that is prized above all the other parts. The rest of this Chinese herb is still believed to have beneficial effects on the human body when prepared as medicine. The fruit is rich in iron and fiber, and contains a significant amount of carbohydrates. The substances in the flesh that has attracted the most attention are the xanthones. Xanthones are said to possess powerful antioxidant properties that reduce cellular damage, speed cellular healing, slow aging, and fight cancer. Xanthone research is still very young, though, and little is known about the effects of xanthones on the human body. Sadly, the highest concentrations of these potential Chinese herbs are found in the bitter, inedible rind.

The benefits

The skin of the fruit, including the rind, contains the majority of the phytochemical value of mangosteens. Mangostin, extracted from the rind and various other parts of the tree, has been investigated for anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer activities. These properties mean that mangosteen can be used to treat skin problems like eczema, urinary tract infections, diarrhea, and gonorrhea. Dysentery can also be cured with fruit and root extracts. The roots are steeped in hot water to make a tea that is said to set regular cycles for menstruation in women. In some places, the mangosteen is held to have "cooling" effects on the body.

This is queen of fruits

There is much still unknown about the dark and exotic Chinese herb or "Queen of Fruits". One thing is for sure though: it is delicious and good for you!


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