Made with the fruit mangosteen – not to be confused with mangos, which are a different plant- and other juices, it is marketed by the corporation XanGo, LLC which is a multi-level marketing company founded in 2002 and based in Lehi, Utah. They are the current leader in marketing products made from mangosteen juice.
Mangostten is part of a group known as the Guttiferae, a family of mainly tropical trees and shrubs that secrete an acrid yellow resinous juice. Mangosteen’s scientific designation is Garcinia mangostana, named after a French explorer, Jacques Garcin.
Marketing materials for XanGo Juice claim numerous health benefits for humans. These include:
- anti-allergic effects
Promotional literature for the product claims that antioxidants from the inedible rind of the fruit provide health benefits. But, none of these claims has scientific proof established by peer-reviewed research and human clinical trials.
The company’s website states that “research shows xanthones (an alleged component of XanGo juice) possess potent antioxidant properties that may help maintain intestinal health, strengthen the immune system, neutralize free radicals, help support cartilage and joint function, and promote a healthy seasonal respiratory system”; however, they also add a footnote with the following disclaimer: “These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
Notice how they add the disclaimer at the bottom of the label, likely knowing that the majority of people who even glance at it won’t read it all the way through to the end.
A scientific advisor for the company, David A. Morton, PhD , said in 2006 there is “emerging evidence that mangosteen has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-microbial properties”, yet acknowledged the only study of humans consuming mangosteen juice was conducted as a test of dysentery therapy in Singapore in 1932.
By the way, Dr Morton’s brothers, Joe and Gordon, helped found the company in the first place. It’s just a coincidence, right?
In 2007, the Mayo Clinic stated there was laboratory evidence that the xanthones in mangosteen had anti-inflammatory activity, but there was no evidence demonstrating such anti-inflammatory effects in humans. Quoting Mayo Clinic, “”there are no published clinical trials showing evidence that either the fruit or its juice — marketed under the name XanGo juice — is an effective treatment for arthritis, cancer or any other disorder in humans.”.
But, they said it had anti-inflammatory properties, didn’t they? Or maybe they just think it has anti-inflammatory properties?
Well, multi-level marketing companies seldom let inconvenient facts get in the way of profits, don’t they?
As far as XanGo’s effectiveness against cancer, the American Cancer Society’s profile of mangosteen juice states there is no reliable evidence that mangosteen juice, puree, or bark is effective as a treatment for cancer in humans.
And wouldn’t you just know that the government would have to step in at some point and not in a small way either. On September 20, 2006, the United States Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to XanGo LLC in response to the company’s promotion of Xango juice as a drug (meaning that it could treat or prevent a disease, such a cancer or arthritis), in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act [21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1)]. The agency’s letter further warned that Xango juice had not been properly tested for safety and efficacy, and as a proposed new drug it could not be legally sold in the US without prior approval of the FDA, and that the company could face enforcement action including seizure and/or injunction of products or suspension of business. Under FDA drug labeling rules, XanGo LLC, as manufacturer, is responsible for satisfying scientific criteria to make health claims on its product labels and all marketing materials. As far as I know, the case remains open.
On visiting the XanGo website, he heard various claims of the anti-cancer benefits of XanGo given by Dr. J. Frederic Templeman, a Georgia family practitioner who has written a small book on mangosteen.
Dr Templeman mentioned that there are 44 scientific publications on this topic. But, as Dr Morton discovered, there are just 29 articles on the topic of Garcinia mangostana in PubMed, the US National Library of Medicine database which contains over 14 million citations. A total of four of these studies relate to cancer.
An over-priced fruit drink. That pretty much sums it up for me, too.
Look, I’m not saying that people don’t have a right to eat and drink something. Neither am I saying that people and businesses don’t have the right to make money.
But, I draw the line when a company or an individual makes health claims about their product that are either untrue or unverified by science.
As I’ve said in previous entries on health, you can do pretty well for yourself by eating and drinking foods that you can find in your local supermarket. For the cost, you can’t beat sweet potatos, blueberries, strawberries, yams and other foods which have been proven to be good for you. They are less expensive than these fad health foods and do the job that these “alternatives” can only claim to do for you. That is: to keep you healthy and help you live a long life.
You might wonder if there could possibly be any harm in drinking XanGo. You may actually like the taste and don’t mind spending the money. Consider the case of a patient with severe acidosis (acidity of the blood plasma) possibly attributable to a year of daily use of mangosteen juice. The amount the patient drank everyday is not specified and neither is the brand. The drink he consumed was infused with xanthones, as occurs in the manufacture of XanGo juice. The authors of the case report proposed that chronic exposure to alpha-mangostin, a xanthone, could be toxic to mitochondrial function, leading to impairment of cellular respiration and production of lactic acidosis.
And you thought it was just another brand of juice, didn’t you?
No, it’s not a juice. It’s a business and a business exists for the sole purpose of making money.