Utah, Mangosteen, and Bad Stuff


The first time I heard of the fruit mangosteen, I thought it was just a Jewish mango. Turns out it’s Southeast Asian and in no way Jewish.  Makes sense; I mean, how do you circumcise a fruit?  Let alone teach it to read the holy books.

The second time I heard of it, I was trying to help a manic-depressive who went manic on it.  A degree professional had suddenly thrown angry tantrums, put his hand and other weapons through nearby walls, and tried to burn down the apartment building where his woman-friend lived.  He succeeded in burning down part of it. It all happened within a few hours of him ingesting mangosteen.  I told him to stop the damned mangosteen.  I remember seeing him through bars, and I doubted he could get any mangosteen in there, anyway.  But he would not hear ill of his dear mangosteen.  It was a multi-level-marketing product and he seemed to believe in it for that reason, despite some factors I was trying to introduce.  Things like biochemical truth, behavioral pharmacology, and my decades of medical practice experience — as opposed to his multi-level marketing experience.  His family stopped paying me as an expert.  I think they all sold mangosteen.

The company is Xango.  This company is one of many located in central Utah and flourishing under something like a constellation of legislation –endorsed by Orrin Hatch — that requires no regulation for claims made by supplements.  The simplest search gets lots of sites on what a fun thing this is to sell and what a brilliant multilevel marketing system it has.

Of course, I dived for the tab marked “science.”  I found a story about a legend and something about the “queen of fruits” and testimonial from someone saying it could revolutionize the supplement industry.  Well, these things are not science where I come from.  I did find some single articles about what xanthones can and might do.

The truth of the matter, as far as I can find it from many references, is that it is C13H8O2.  In 1939, it was introduced for use as an insecticide to kill moth eggs and larva.  As for the contemporary claims of everything from cancer cure to ending atherosclerosis, the folks at wisegeek seem to be correct in that the only serious study about this is Dr. James Duke’s ethnobotany study.  This was followed up by Recio in the 80s. The insecticide use was most on the money.  There might be some antibacterial effect here, but little else.  There is some reference made to antioxidant powers, but there are a million ways to get this much-studied effect, assuming all compounds with such powers get into the human bloodstream when ingested, which they emphatically do not.

Dr. Duke’s original pharmacopoeia of natural stuff has been lovingly preserved by the Department of Agriculture.  I have seen other patients go manic with a lot of antioxidant stuff — that could have been what was going on with the guy I wrote about at the beginning of this article.  Clinically, I have seen a lot of this. But with little literature, a glial mechanism has been postulated.  As a side note, I really love stuff about the glial cells in the nervous system.  When I went to school these were believed to be inert support cells, but now they are being discovered to do a lot of neat things.  But I digress. The bottom line is this.  Under the direction of Orrin Hatch, duly elected senator from Utah, a variety of health food companies have flourished under the good senator’s laws that exempt such products from the rigors of science, but leave them prey to the joys of marketing.  In the case of Xango, that may be wildly effective marketing for those who prize such things over science.  For those who relish the placebo effect — it made me feel great! — which may be an ego justifying response — you paid a hell of a lot for it so it ought to damn well make you feel great!

Some people love myths and lore more than science.  I can almost see the attraction here; life is short on romance for most folks.  Did Queen Victoria actually ask for an unadulterated mangosteen?  I mean, she could have.  She asked for breadfruit to feed her country and the plants all died on board ship; confer “Mutiny on the Bounty.”  She asked for the “Indian Hemp” – marijuana — to treat her royal menstrual cramps.  Her royal M.D., Sir Wm. Russell, wrote that one up in the British Medical Journal at the time.  So the marketers of Utah wanted a piece of this old-fashioned British pie.

Check real science before spending your hard earned money on something natural, especially if the company is located in Utah.  Maybe there is a political solution; this is why my husband and I started a Political Action initiative. Until then, check your science.  Or just ask me.

Comments on Utah, Mangosteen, and Bad Stuff Leave a Comment

June 14, 2013

Gail H. @ 12:43 pm #

Thank you for this info, I was going to get a multi vitamin with mangosteen in it, but didn’t want a stimulant nor anything iff-y, so I am glad I came across this article. I love that the doctor was forthright and didn’t beat around the bush with his information.

July 20, 2014

Skiz @ 10:47 pm #

Hello Estelle, thanks for clearing this up. I am looking up some information about a company (Vemma) that claims to harvest Mangosteen that’s growing on vulcanic ashes in Utah that are more than 1000 years old – to put the juice into their products. I learned that the mangosteen tree does not grow there.

I believe Vemma is simply buying from Xango. But where does Xango get the fruits from?

Kind regards from germany!

September 4, 2014

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