The Thai mangosteen is popular in countries all over southeast Asia, but particularly in Thailand, where it has been cultivated for centuries. Renowned for its delicious taste, it has also been used as a good source of antioxidants because of its many health benefits.
In Thailand, the mangosteen is used for everything from juice drinks to teas, soaps to herbal massage rubs, to treat diarrhea and as an immune system enhancer. It’s also available on any market in Thailand and, at less than $2 a kilo, is cheap. Plus, it’s delicious.
The Thai mangosteen is a small round dark purple fruit with a hard rind. Most people who eat mangosteen in south east Asia do not eat the rind but peel it off to reveal the pulp inside the fruit. The pulp of the mangosteen is white, fleshy and soft and tastes very sweet.
In an average sitting, most people will eat 8-10 peeled mangosteen, as the fruit is small at less than 2 inches in diameter, and the edible pulp is less than half of that. The rind of the mangosteen does not taste good raw, but is usually dried, ground up and used as a health tea. As it is the rind that contains most of the xanothones (anti-oxidants) in mangosteen, tea made from mangosteen is thought to be extremely beneficial for good health.
These teas can be bought in any health shop, tea shop and most supermarkets in south east Asia. Some Asian street stalls also sell mangosteen tea.
The mangosteen is known to contain extremely high levels of xanthones, a powerful antioxidant. In fact, it has the highest known levels of xanthones of anything in nature. Xanthones are known to promote a healthy immune system, help with intestinal health and maintain a strong respiratory system. The mangosteen has more than 40 different types of xanthones, making it one of the best ways to get certain antioxidants. Thais use it as an anti-viral, an anti-bacterial, to help with heart problems, to aid in digestion, to strengthen the immune system and to help with skin rashes and infections.
In Thailand, mangosteen is usually eaten as a fruit, and as a dessert. It’s eaten straight out of the rind with a spoon, peeled and placed on a plate to simply enjoy the sweet taste, or served with sticky rice and
The mangosteen tree is from the same family as St. John’s Wort, an herbal remedy often used for things like depression, as an anti-inflammatory and an antiseptic.
This is probably why Thais use the mangosteen for similar purposes. Most of the health benefits of the mangosteen are seen as ‘anecdotal’ by the west, but that’s probably primarily because there are no studies done on the health benefits of the mangosteen by major US drug companies (why would they? It sure as heck wouldn’t benefit them).
But, for Thais, who have seen these benefits up close and personal for hundreds of years, they know who they believe, and it’s not the US drug establishment.