Xanthones In Mangosteen And Their Benefits

  • Nisha Modhwadia BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science, De Montfort University
  • Jason Ha Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery - MBBS, University of Bristol


Xanthones, a class of polyphenolic compounds,1 has recently garnered significant attention in the realm of natural therapeutics, particularly when sourced from the tropical fruit mangosteen. This comprehensive exploration aims to meticulously dissect the chemical intricacies of xanthones, elucidate their concentration within various parts of the mangosteen plant, and delve into the myriad health benefits they confer.

Understanding xanthones: nature and types

Chemical structure of xanthones

Xanthones, characterised by a framework of oxygenated and methylated aromatic rings, constitute a distinctive class of polyphenols. This unique chemical structure underlies their diverse biological activities, making them noteworthy subjects of scientific inquiry.1

Different types of xanthones

Within mangosteen, a trove of xanthones manifests, with alpha-mangostin, beta-mangostin, and gamma-mangostin standing as principal constituents.2 Each variant possesses specific properties contributing to the overall health-enhancing potential of mangosteen. For instance, alpha-mangostin exhibits potent antioxidant effects, while beta-mangostin demonstrates anti-inflammatory properties. Gamma-mangostin, on the other hand, has shown promise in anticancer research. Understanding the nuanced differences among these types is pivotal for harnessing the full spectrum of xanthones' therapeutic capabilities.2

Xanthones in Mangosteen: sources and concentration

Mangosteen fruit composition

Revered as the "queen of fruits," mangosteen conceals its xanthonic wealth primarily within the pericarp or rind, with discernible albeit lesser amounts in the pulp. This strategic distribution of xanthones within the fruit mandates a meticulous understanding of therapeutic optimisation. The pericarp, in particular, emerges as the focal point for extracting and concentrating these bioactive compounds.

Xanthone content in various parts of the mangosteen plant

Beyond the fruit, the exploration extends to other botanical components, such as leaves and roots, each harbouring varying concentrations of xanthones. This holistic evaluation broadens the canvas for potential therapeutic applications. Recent studies indicate that while the pericarp boasts the highest concentration, leaves and roots also contribute significantly to the overall xanthone content. Investigating the distribution within the entire plant provides a comprehensive understanding, offering potential avenues for sustainable cultivation practices.3

Factors influencing xanthone concentration

The intricate interplay of geographical variables, climatic nuances, and cultivation methodologies profoundly influences the concentration of xanthones in mangosteen. Recognising these determinants is pivotal for harnessing the plant's therapeutic potential effectively. For instance, regions with specific climatic conditions and soil compositions may yield mangosteen with higher xanthone concentrations.

Health benefits of xanthones

Antioxidant properties

A salient facet of xanthones is their formidable antioxidant prowess, orchestrating the neutralisation of free radicals4. This biochemical ballet plays a pivotal role in mitigating oxidative stress, a linchpin in preventing and managing a spectrum of chronic diseases. Recent studies have highlighted the potential of xanthones, particularly alpha-mangostin, in scavenging free radicals and mitigating oxidative damage to cellular structures. This antioxidant defence mechanism positions mangosteen as a potential ally in preventing conditions associated with oxidative stress, such as cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative disorders.

Anti-inflammatory effects

The anti-inflammatory repertoire of xanthones positions them as formidable allies in the management of inflammatory conditions, particularly in affording relief to those grappling with disorders such as arthritis. Beta-mangostin, for instance, has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects by modulating key inflammatory pathways.4 Such findings underscore the potential application of mangosteen as a natural anti-inflammatory agent, offering an alternative or complementary approach to conventional treatments for inflammatory conditions.

Anti-cancer potential

Preliminary investigations suggest a potential anticancer armamentarium within certain xanthones, demonstrating inhibitory effects on cancer cell growth and induction of cell death. While necessitating further scrutiny, these findings hold promise for the integration of xanthones in cancer therapeutics. Gamma-mangostin, in particular, has exhibited anticancer properties by inducing cell cycle arrest and promoting cell death in various cancer cell lines.4 Understanding the molecular mechanisms behind these effects is crucial for advancing xanthones as potential adjuncts in cancer prevention and treatment strategies.

Anti-microbial properties

The antimicrobial tableau of xanthones unfolds against a canvas that includes bacteria and fungi. This antimicrobial efficacy, reflective of traditional applications in folk medicine, underscores their potential in combating infectious pathogens.4 Alpha-mangostin, for example, has displayed potent antibacterial activity against a range of pathogens, making it a subject of interest in the development of novel antimicrobial agents. Unravelling the mechanisms behind these antimicrobial effects opens avenues for addressing the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance.

Cardiovascular health benefits

The canvas of cardiovascular health unveils potential benefits, including cholesterol modulation and blood pressure regulation. These findings beckon exploration into the integration of mangosteen as a natural adjunct in cardiovascular wellness strategies. Alpha-mangostin, in particular, has demonstrated lipid-lowering effects and anti-atherosclerotic properties in preclinical studies. The potential to mitigate risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases positions mangosteen as a promising dietary supplement for individuals aiming to maintain heart health. However, clinical trials are imperative to validate these effects in human populations and establish evidence-based recommendations.

Potential therapeutic applications

Xanthones and chronic diseases

In the realm of chronic diseases, xanthones exhibit promise, particularly in the management of diabetes and neurological disorders. Their multifaceted actions, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory attributes, warrant further investigation for therapeutic precision. Studies have indicated that xanthones may contribute to glycaemic control and neuroprotective effects, making them potential candidates for integrative approaches in managing conditions like diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. The intricate interplay between xanthones and molecular pathways implicated in these diseases underscores the need for rigorous clinical trials to substantiate these preliminary findings.5

Xanthones and skin health

Extending beyond systemic health, xanthones unfurl their dermatological potential with anti-ageing effects. Their role in skin rejuvenation positions mangosteen as a noteworthy player in the domain of dermatotherapeutics. Beta-mangosteen, for instance, has demonstrated anti-ageing effects by inhibiting collagen degradation and promoting collagen synthesis.5 This highlights the potential application of mangosteen in cosmetic formulations and raises questions about its role in addressing skin conditions associated with ageing. Exploring the mechanisms behind these effects opens avenues for developing targeted interventions in dermatology, offering consumers natural alternatives for skin health.

Safety and side effects

General safety profile

Mangosteen, along with its xanthones, boasts a commendable safety profile when consumed judiciously within the bounds of a balanced diet. Clinical studies and traditional usage patterns indicate minimal adverse effects associated with mangosteen consumption. However, as with any dietary supplement, moderation is key. The inclusion of mangosteen in a varied diet contributes to its safety profile, and adherence to recommended daily allowances ensures a prudent approach to supplementation.

Potential adverse reactions

Rare instances of adverse reactions necessitate vigilance, particularly in individuals susceptible to allergic responses. Allergic reactions to mangosteen, though infrequent, may manifest as skin rashes, itching, or gastrointestinal discomfort. It is crucial for individuals, especially those with known allergies or sensitivities, to exercise caution when introducing mangosteen products into their dietary regimens. This underscores the importance of individualised responses to dietary supplements, emphasising the need for informed decision-making and, when in doubt, consultation with healthcare professionals.

Interaction with medications

Consideration of potential interactions with medications, especially those metabolised by hepatic enzymes, underscores the importance of informed healthcare decision-making. Certain xanthones in mangosteen may interact with drug-metabolising enzymes, potentially altering the pharmacokinetics of co-administered medications6.  Individuals on chronic medications, such as anticoagulants or immunosuppressants, should exercise caution and seek guidance from healthcare providers. While the likelihood of significant interactions is generally low, prudence dictates proactive communication between individuals and their healthcare teams to ensure therapeutic efficacy and safety.


In summation, the intricate narrative of xanthones in mangosteen unfolds as a compelling saga of natural therapeutic potential. From antioxidant fortitude to anti-inflammatory finesse, xanthones signify a promising frontier in the pursuit of holistic health. As scientific inquiry propels us deeper into the tapestry of xanthones, mangosteen emerges not merely as a fruit but as a reservoir of bioactive compounds with far-reaching implications for human well-being.


  1. What does mangosteen do for your body?

Mangosteen offers a plethora of health benefits primarily attributed to its rich content of xanthones. These bioactive compounds exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and potential anti-cancer properties. Consuming mangosteen may contribute to overall well-being by supporting cardiovascular health, managing inflammation, and promoting skin health.

  1. How many xanthones are in mangosteen?

Mangosteen contains a variety of xanthones, with over 20 different types identified. The concentration of xanthones can vary across different parts of the fruit, with the highest concentration found in the pericarp or rind. Alpha-mangostin, beta-mangostin, and gamma-mangostin are among the most studied and prevalent xanthones in mangosteen.

  1. What is the importance of xanthones?

Xanthones play a crucial role in human health due to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and potential anti-cancer properties. These bioactive compounds contribute to the prevention and management of various chronic diseases, making them essential components of a balanced and health-promoting diet.

  1. What is the use of xanthones?

Xanthones exhibit diverse uses, including their potential to support cardiovascular health, manage inflammation, combat oxidative stress, and even demonstrate anticancer properties. Their versatility positions them as valuable candidates for further exploration in pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, and functional foods.

  1. Who should not take mangosteen?

 While mangosteen is generally safe for most individuals when consumed in moderation, individuals with known allergies to the fruit should avoid it. Additionally, those taking medications that may interact with xanthones or individuals with certain medical conditions should consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating mangosteen into their diet or as a supplement.

  1. Is mangosteen good for gut health?

Mangosteen may have potential benefits for gut health due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These properties could contribute to a healthy gut environment. However, individual responses may vary, and it's advisable to incorporate mangosteen as part of a balanced diet for overall digestive well-being.

  1. What is the power of xanthones?

The power of xanthones lies in their ability to act as potent antioxidants, neutralising free radicals that contribute to oxidative stress and cellular damage. Additionally, xanthones exhibit anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and potential anticancer effects, making them powerful contributors to overall health and disease prevention.

  1. Is mangosteen anti-aging?

Certain xanthones found in mangosteen, such as beta-mangostin, have demonstrated anti-aging effects by inhibiting collagen degradation and promoting collagen synthesis. While mangosteen can be a valuable addition to a skincare routine, the holistic concept of anti-ageing involves various lifestyle factors, and mangosteen should be considered as part of a comprehensive approach.

  1. Why is mangosteen so expensive*

The high cost of mangosteen can be attributed to factors such as its challenging cultivation conditions, slow growth rate, and labour-intensive harvesting process. Additionally, the demand for mangosteen, coupled with its limited availability outside of certain regions, contributes to its higher market price.

  1. Is it okay to eat mangosteen every day?

In moderation, consuming mangosteen regularly can be a healthy addition to your diet. However, like any food, it's essential to maintain a diverse and balanced diet. Individuals with specific health conditions, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and those taking medications should consult with a healthcare professional to ensure that regular consumption aligns with their individual health needs.


  1. Feng Z, Lu X, Gan L, Zhang Q, Lin L. Xanthones, a promising anti-inflammatory scaffold: structure, activity, and drug-likeness analysis. Molecules [Internet]. 2020 Jan 30;25(3):598. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/25/3/598
  2. Gutierrez-Orozco F, Failla M. Biological activities and bioavailability of mangosteen xanthones: a critical review of the current evidence. Nutrients [Internet]. 2013 Aug 13;5(8):3163–83. Available from: http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/8/3163
  3. Albuquerque BR, Dias MI, Pinela J, Calhelha RC, Pires TCSP, Alves MJ, et al. Insights into the chemical composition and in vitro bioactive properties of mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana L.) pericarp. Foods [Internet]. 2023 Feb 26 12(5):994. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/12/5/994
  4. Chemical compounds and pharmacological activities of mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana L.) – updated review. Biointerface Res Appl Chem [Internet]. 2021 Jun 18;12(2):2503–16. Available from: https://biointerfaceresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/20695837122.25032516.pdf
  5. Wong KW, Mah SH. A review on xanthone derivatives with anti-inflammatory effects and their structure-activity relationship. In: Studies in Natural Products Chemistry [Internet]. Elsevier; 2021 p. 393–433. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/B9780128194850000037
  6. Yuvanatemiya V, Srean P, Klangbud WK, Venkatachalam K, Wongsa J, Parametthanuwat T, et al. A review of the influence of various extraction techniques and the biological effects of the xanthones from mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana L.) pericarps. Molecules [Internet]. 2022 Dec 10];27(24):8775. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/27/24/8775
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Nisha Modhwadia

BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science

I hold a BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science, adeptly I combine my academic knowledge with practical experience in the intricate domains of medical and regulatory writing. My professional journey includes a wealth of experience in various pharmaceutical projects, with a primary focus on drug delivery.

As a dedicated member of esteemed organisations, including RAPS (Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society), TOPRA (The Organisation for Professionals in Regulatory Affairs), and the Royal Society of Biology, I maintain a strong network within the scientific community, enriching my work with a profound depth of knowledge.

My hands-on experience in pharmaceutical environments and my past role in the pharmacy sector provide a pragmatic dimension to her writing, contributing invaluable insights into the healthcare landscape.

My distinctive fusion of academic knowledge and practical proficiency positions me as a capable provider of comprehensive insights into the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and healthcare industries.

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