The ripened mangosteen is reddish purple and almost round in shape, varying in size and is harvested from a ladder by cutting the fruit from the branches. The rind of this fruit is exceptionally bitter and though it is used in certain parts of Asia as medication in a dry form, it is not edible for this reason.
The inner fruit comes in segments of 4-8 pieces, white in color with a sweet, unique and delicate flavor. The size of the segments can vary with the larger ones containing a stone (seed). The seeds are actually embryos that start growing without fertilization.
The first documented article on the medicinal properties of the mangosteen was written in 1697 by Jacques Garcin with many more recorded articles since focusing on the properties of the fruit and its active ingredients.
Mangosteen has been used in Asian countries for over 1,400 years as a traditional herbal medicine for various diseases and disorders, while the dried powdered rind was used for the treatment of dysentery and its paste used for the treatment of eczema and other skin problems. In the Philippines, a concoction of mangosteen, certain leaves and bark were used for reducing temperatures, thrush, diarrhea, dysentery and urinary disorders.
Studies have shown that the mangosteen is rich in nutrients and antioxidants and is the reason for its health benefits. The highest antioxidant is ‘xanthone’ that has antibiotic, antiviral, anti fungal and antiflammitory properties and is most effective with the cardiovascular system. It is also believed to be effective in preventing cancer, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, arthritis, kidney stones, glaucoma, cataracts, atherosclerosis, neuralgia, Alzheimers and many more disorders. The fruit is also believed to be beneficial in the treatment of aging, depression, ulcers, obesity, skin allergies, ulcers, fever, pain and diarrhea.
As far as the benefits of mangosteen go, the rind is the most beneficial and is used along with the fruit when extracting juice. Although rare, consuming the juice along with certain medication can cause drowsiness. Studies into this fruit for health benefits are still ongoing.