What are xanthones?

Xanthones are a class of chemical compounds, similar to vitamins, in that xanthones help the body’s cells to function correctly and optimally. A xanthone is composed of 3 diamond shaped rings resembling a part of a honey comb. Carbon and oxygen atoms make of the atomic backbone.


Chemical Name: [2,4′-Bi-9H-xanthene]-9,9′-dione, 2′-.beta.-D-glucopyranosyl-1,1′,3′,4,6′,7′,8-heptahydroxy-6-methoxy

What do the xanthones in the pericarp of the mangosteen fruit do?

There are over 40 known xanthones in the pericarp of the mangosteen fruit. There are also polysaccharides and other active chemicals that give the mangosteen fruit its medicinal properties. The following is a short list outlining some of these benefits:

Anti-inflammatory – is known to inhibit swelling, tenderness, edema and pain.
Antioxidant – known to stop the harmful effects of free radicals in the body.
Cholesterol – inhibits the oxidation of LDL (the bad) cholesterol before it has a chance to damage the lining of an artery and cause a plaque to build up. In other words, reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.
Immune system – posses potent antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.
Anti-tumor properties – the xanthones from mangosteen inhibited growth of different types of liver cell cancer and showed promise with pancreatic cancer.
Digestive system – demonstrated anti-ulcer activity and helped the body overcome diarrhea and dysentery.
Anti-allergic – demonstrated to reduce the effects of allergic reactions of the body from common allergens to anaphylaxis.
Central nervous system – the mangosteen is shown to produce a therapeutic effect in both the treatment and prevention of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease
Skin – demonstrated to reduce the effects of dermatitis, eczema and skin infections.

Can one get xanthones from simply eating food?
No. The xanthone family of phytonutrients is found primarily in two families in nature … Guttiferae (the family of the mangosteen) and Gentianaceae. The pericarp of the mangosteen is a premier source where xanthones are found in concentrated amounts. Many scientific studies name the mangosteen pericarp as one of the main sources of xanthones in nature. There are (so far) over 40 identified xanthones in the pericarp of the mangosteen fruit.

How come we haven’t heard about xanthones before?
Xanthones are very restricted in occurrence. The majority of natural xanthones have been found in just two families of higher plants … Guttiferae (the family of the mangosteen) and Gentianaceae. The Guttiferae family contains over 1000 known species of plants that mainly confined to the tropics. The major exception to this is St. Johns Wort.

Is there any current research data to support how effective Xanthones are as compared to Vitamin A, C, E and other antioxidants i.e. lycopene combined?
Several xanthones have been used in experiments as antioxidants to protect LDL, the “bad cholesterol”, from being oxidized. In those studies alpha tocopherol (one of the forms of vitamin E) was used as a comparison and the xanthone was “more effective than the vitamin E at preventing the oxidation of LDL”. Catechins, the same elements as contained in green tea are also present in significant amounts in mangosteen. These substances in studies have been shown to be more potent as antioxidants than vitamin C.

Historical Medicinal Uses:
Dried fruits are shipped from Singapore to Calcutta and to China for medicinal use. The sliced and dried rind is powdered and administered to overcome dysentery. Made into an ointment, it is applied on eczema and other skin disorders. The rind decoction is taken to relieve diarrhea and cystitis, gonorrhea and gleet and is applied externally as an astringent lotion. A portion of the rind is steeped in water overnight and the infusion given as a remedy for chronic diarrhea in adults and children. Filipinos employ a decoction of the leaves and bark as a febrifuge used to treat thrush, diarrhea, dysentery and urinary disorders. In Malaya, an infusion of the leaves, combined with unripe banana and a little benzoin is applied to the wound of circumcision. A root decoction is taken to regulate menstruation. A bark extract called “amibiasine”, has been marketed for the treatment of amoebic dysentery.

· Antioxidant protection against free radicals
· Maintains immune system health
· Promotes joint flexibility
· Provides positive mental support
· Reduces allergies
· Reduces joint inflammation
· Prevents cancer

The human body produces free radicals during everyday life. Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd number of (unpaired) electrons. Free radicals are very unstable and react quickly with other compounds. Once formed, free radicals can start a chain reaction of cell damage finally resulting in death of the cell. Antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E, and selenium, are chemicals found in whole foods (especially fruits and vegetables) that help to protect the body’s cells from the harmful effects of free radicals. Xanthone is a compound found in mangosteen fruit that may have antioxidant properties.

PubMed Gamma-mangostin shifts rightward the dose/response curve for 5-HT induced aorta contraction without affecting contractile responses to KCl, phenylephrine or histamine Chairungsrilerd 1998

PubMed Salmonella is inhibited and PMN phagocytes stimulated by polysaccharides from mangosteen pericarp Chanarat 1997
PubMed Histamine & serotonin induced aorta contraction was inhibited by a methanolic extract of Garcinia mangostana fruit hulls. Alpha-Mangostin is a competitive histamine H1 receptor antagonist. Gamma-mangostin is a competitive 5-HT2A receptor antagonist Furukawa 1997

PubMed Anti-fungal activity of xanthones and mangostin from Garcinia mangostana fruit hulls Gopalakrishnan 1997

PubMed Alpha-mangostin and gamma-mangostin appear to be histaminergic and a serotonergic receptor blocking agents, respectively Chairungsrilerd 1996

PubMed HIV-1 protease is inhibited by Garcinia mangostana ethanol extract, due to mangostin (IC50 = 5.1 microM) and gamma-mangostin (IC50 = 4.8 microM) Chen 1996

PubMed Alpha-mangostin, a xanthone derivative from G. mangostana, inhibits methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, MIC = 1.6 -12.5 micrograms/ml. Rubraxanthone from G. dioica is more active, MIC = 0.3-1.2 micrograms/ml Iinuma 1996
PubMed Low density lipoprotein oxidation is inhibited by mangostin dose dependently at 5 – 50 microM Williams 1995

PubMed “Antimicrobial activities of Garcinia mangostana ” (no abstract) Sundaram 1983

Analytical Chemistry
PubMed Garm FatA1, an acyl-acyl carrier protein thioesterase from G. mangostana, generates elevated stearate (18:0) in transgenic Brassica plants. Mutants were created that generate even higher levels of stearate Calgene1999

PubMed Acyl-ACP thioesterases specific for each of the saturated acyl-ACP substrates from 8:0 through 16:0 have been cloned. 18:1-ACP specificity was found with G. mangostana acyl-ACP thioesterase. Mangosteen seed oil accumulates to 56% 18:0 (stearate) Hawkins 1998

PubMed 1,3,6-trihydroxy-7-methoxy-2,8-bis(3-methyl-2-butenyl)-9H- xanthen-9-one (mangostin) and 1,3,6,7-tetrahydroxy-2,8-bis(3-methyl-2-butenyl)- 9H-xanthen-9-one (gamma-mangostin) in fruit hulls Jinsart 1992

Animal Studies
PubMed Gamma-mangostin from Garcinia mangostana fruit hull injected (10-40 nmol/mouse) inhibited 5FMT induced head-twitch response and inhibits accumulation of inositol phosphates indicating it to be a 5-HT2A receptor antagonist Chairungsrilerd 1998

PubMed “Effect of mangostin, a xanthone from Garcinia mangostana Linn. in immunopathological & inflammatory reactions ” (no abstract) Gopalakrishnan 1980

PubMed Mangostin and derivatives are CNS depressant (ptosis, sedation, decreased motor activity, potentiation of pentobarbital sleeping time & ether anaesthesia) and anti-inflammatory in mice and rats. No analgesic, antipyretic nor anticonvulsant effects Shankaranarayan 1979

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