Mangosteen season in Thailand is always hot, and there is nothing better than sucking on this Queen of Fruits (her nickname in Thailand) in a hammock, in a shady spot somewhere on a lazy afternoon. Such an exquisite taste! Botanically, she is named Garcinia mangostana Linn
Mangosteen holds a very special secret, apart from its culinary delight. She is a PROFOUND natural medicine. “Great!” I hear lots of people say, “how wonderful to gorge and heal at the same time.” Only it doesn’t quite work that way. Because the powerful healing compounds are not primarily contained in the yummy fruit, but in the seeds and the skin which, frankly, taste like cacca. Yup, I’ve tried.
What exactly does mangosteen have that is soooo special that you’d consider eating icky tasting skin and seeds for? Mangosteen is literally exploding with a phytochemicals collectively called Xanthones.
Xanthones, from the pericarp, whole fruit, heartwood, and leaf of mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana Linn., GML), are known to possess a wide spectrum of pharmacologic properties, including anti-oxidant, anti-tumor, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral activities. The potential chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic activities of xanthones have been demonstrated in different stages of carcinogenesis (initiation, promotion, and progression) and are known to control cell division and growth, apoptosis, inflammation, and metastasis. I pulled that information from this clinical research.
Basically, xanthones are adaptogenic in nature. So they support the body’s own immune and balancing responses, which makes it a front line medicine for just about any ailment. There’s also a LOT of research showing mangosteen speeds up natural wound healing. Bascially, it’s a tropical medicine go-to that you want to have handy. Mangosteen has become popular in western countries also as its adaptogenic nature helps regulate weight loss.
So here we are, in mangosteen season. The medicine is contained in the WHOLE FRIUT, so you can either dry it and capsulate, or tincture it. I’m not a pill popper and prefer the more bioavailable tincture form – a shot glass here and there when I’m feeling blurgh is by far more natural and easy for me than making or taking pills.
So, how to do?
First, unless you KNOW it’s organic mangosteen, please presume it isn’t. Which means soaking the whole fruits in a sodium bicarbonate solution for 20 – 30 mins. I use one tablespoon per big bowl of water. Nope – no plastic in my kitchen either! Since they float, you need to stir them around and pour the water over them so the sodium bicarbonate can break down any surface pesticides and nasties all over, and not just on one side.
The only bit I instinctively remove is the little cap ‘thingy’ – not sure why – the research above suggests I shouldn’t.
Using a very sharp cleaver and with some care (they’re hard and slippery and accidents all too easy) I slice them first, and then roughly chop the whole lot up. To expose as much surface area to my alcohol as possible. Logic tells me a really heavy duty blender would be OK too, but something in my resists that idea.
I two-thirds loosely fill my favourite style of tincturing bottle with the chopped fruit, and fill to the very brim with clean white alcohol. Usually I use local home-made rice spirit, but my fav local Thai vendor was out of stock after our Thai New Year celebrations (LOL) and so I used a simple cheap vodka-like white spirit from the supermarket this time.
All my tincturing bottles have stories – this one started out holding an amazing Japanese plum liqueur – with whole plums in it – and was a gift from my Swiss friend, Andy, who joined us for Christmas this last year. Wanna make my day? I’d like more of these particular bottles – soooo handy! And I like the energy the green glass contributes. We can enjoy the super-yum plum liqueur together when you bring it!
Label it – masking tape is your friend. Other people put their crystals out in the full-moon moonlight, the dawn, the dusk, and the dark moon time – me? my tinctures. To gather the energies beyond the physical. And so I tape the lid extra as well, just to be sure there is no evaporation.
How long do I leave it? Anywhere from 1 month to 2 years. LOL…. When you FEEL it’s done, you can strain and put into small bottles – dark brown, green or blue glass referred, with tight lids. Best stored in a cool, dark, place.
You can add a tablespoon to a smoothie, dilute it in water or just slug down a small shot glass full. Like all herbal treatments, cycling is best and continuous use never advised. Take it for a week, 2-3 times a day and then give yourself a complete break.
Enjoying the natural medicine abundance in my Thai world, and delighted to share it with you. Before you ask, no I NEVER sell my tinctures as I am NOT (nor do I profess to be) a licensed medical practitioner, and nor do I hold the correct licensing to sell alcoholic products. I learn, I heal, I share. That’s it.