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Materia Medica, Pharmacology & Bio-Prospecting

The Mangostan (Garcinia mangostana)

The image to the left is the Mangostan, also known as the Garcinia mangostana. It is a drawing from Rumphius’s Ambonese Herbal. The Garcinia mangostana is a tropical evergreen tree that grows fruit, typically knows as the mangosteen. It is classified in the same category with the other garcinia plants such as the Garcinia amboiniensis, Garcinia dulcis, Garcinia cermica, Garcinia cambogia, Garcinia celebica, and Garcinia cornia. The fruit is identified by its dark purple color and flower like internal appearance. It is native to many Southeastern Asian countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and Thailand. It is nicknamed “the queen of fruits.” It is collected from the leaves of these trees. The fruit typically grows large and spherical. It is easily identified and well enjoyed by natives to the areas. The plant is also known to have medicinal properties. Natives use the pericarp of the plant which is known as the peel or the rind of the plant for anti-diarrheal, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial purposes. It is known to have healing properties suspected to treat dysentery, diarrhea, skin infections, wounds, oral ulcers and thrush. According to a modern study by Marzaimi, “[i]ts natural compounds such as xanthones and benzophenones are advantageous as drug candidates for inflammatory diseases pertaining to the nervous system, arthritis, cancer, and the digestive system as well as dermal and muscular issues.” According to the same analysis, the fruit’s active compound is alpha mangostin, which is a xanthone derivative with strong “anti-bacterial activity towards methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.” Natives also use the Garcinia mangostana for easing abdominal pain.


Rumphius, Georgius Everhardus. [1743] 2011. The Ambonese Herbal. Translated by Eric Montague Beekman. New Haven: Yale University Press & National Tropical Botanical Garden.
Merrill, E.D. 1917. An Interpretation of Rumphius’s Herbarium Amboinense. Bureau of Science, Manila.
Buenz, E. J., Johnson, H. E., Beekman, E. M., Motley, T. J., & Bauer, B. A. 2005. "Bioprospecting Rumphius's Ambonese Herbal: Volume I." Journal of ethnopharmacology 96(1-2), 57–70.
Marzaimi, Natasya. 2019. “Garcinia mangostana.”

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