Xanthones are chemical compounds that occur naturally in various organic materials. For a long time, they were derived from salicyliate and used in insecticides. Now, their most common use is in natural preparations derived from the mangosteen fruit, which are said to reduce cholesterol levels and hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, as well as naturally combat cancer.
Compounds derived from the mangosteen are extracted from the rind or pericarp. They are packaged in a wide variety of natural food supplements available on the Internet and in natural foods and health food stores. Some manufacturers also make mangosteen juice, which is combined with other juices to provide a source of xanthones. Unless the pericarp is used in the juice, however, these juices will not significantly increase a consumer's intake of this chemical.
Manufacturers of xanthones claim that a daily dose of these compounds will lower cholesterol. Other claims suggest that they promote overall heart health, reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, and help prevent atherosclerosis. They are also praised for their antioxidant properties.
The US Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these claims, because these compounds are packaged as nutritional supplements, not medications. Most sites on the Internet that market mangosteen juice or supplements claim vast amounts of scientific research supporting all of the above claims. This evidence is primarily based on one study by Dr. James Duke, however, who felt mangosteen might have some antibacterial properties.
Beyond this sidebar listing in Dr. Duke’s article, there are no approved clinical studies on mangosteen, and certainly none that support claims of reducing cholesterol or promoting heart health. Other health experts have called mangosteen juice's value into question as anything other than a fruit drink. Many researchers are concerned that those suffering from cancer may be tricked into spending an excessive amount of money on something that will have no benefit.
Given the lack of clinical evidence on the value of xanthones derived from mangosteen, people who are considering using it should consult a medical professional, cardiologist, or oncologist before trying it. There is little evidence that the compounds present in mangosteen are harmful, but pregnant and nursing women should probably not use them as little is known about effects on the fetus or newborn. Using these comounds in place of other cardiac medicines is potentially disastrous, and they may interact with other medications.