Xango juice: superfood or superscam?

Mangosteen fruit from Shutterstock
Mangosteen fruit from Shutterstock

The latest '"miracle" health product to reach South Africa’s sunny shores is Xango juice.

XanGo, LLC is an international marketing company, based in Utah in the USA. The company markets and distributes Xango juice, a juice consisting of mangosteen and other juices, as well as botanical skin care, personal care, energy supplement and nutritional supplements. 

The mangosteen fruit (Garcinia mangostana) grows in hot, humid countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. The fruit is purple and about the size of a small apple. It has a thick rind, at the centre of which is the soft, white fruit, which looks a bit like a head of garlic and has a delicious, sweet taste.

Traditional use

Mangosteen is known as the “Queen of Fruits” and has been used as a traditional medicine in Southeast Asia for a wide range of diseases and ailments, including infections, wound healing, diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal problems. The hull is regarded as anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral.

18 bioactive xanthones (polyphenolic compounds) have been isolated from the mangosteen fruit and 60 from the pericarp (rind), which may be the reason for the tradtional medicinal use of the fruit. In modern times mangosteen preparations have been used for arthritis, cancer, ulcers, eczema and allergies. 

Oxidative stress activates inflammatory pathways, which are linked to many chronic diseases, including cancer and diabetes – and reducing inflammation with xanthones from mangosteen may be an effective preventive measure.  

Many cancer sufferers are reluctant to undergo surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy and put their trust in alternative therapies like diet and exercise, chemicals and herbs. These treatments are however not supported by allopathic (western) medicine because of lack of testing or because tests did not show statistically significant efficacy, and some are actually regarded as unsafe.

A distinction is however made between complementary treatments which are used in conjunction with conventional medical treatment, and alternative treatments which replace conventional treatment.

Read: Spot the scam!

Xango in South Africa

As their website explains, one can purchase Xango Mangosteen Juice directly from the Company by registering and becoming a member of Xango Mangosteen. The cost of becoming part of this “business opportunity” is R245 and once you’re onboard you will receive an International ID number, allowing you to order four 750ml bottles of mangosteen juice for R1108.55. (The recommended dose is 3 x 30ml per day.)

At more than R250 for an (admittedly large) bottle of fruit juice this has to be liquid dynamite!

Possible lawsuits?

On the Xango website there are few specific health claims for the product which makes one wonder if this was done deliberately to avoid any possible lawsuits from disillusioned customers.

The following is as about as far as they’re about to go: “Mangosteen as a juice has many beneficial properties that impact our daily lives. By consuming Mangosteen Juice, the whole Mangosteen, we give our bodies the extra vitamins and minerals we should be getting in our daily consumption of foods.”

According to livestrong.com Xango juice “may impact your health in several positive ways". However, they do advise their readers to consult their doctor before using the product.   

Evidence from MayoClinic.com suggests that Xango juice contains powerful antioxidants and that tests done on rats indicate that mangosteen juice may reduce the risk of bowel cancer. But they are careful to add that  “…insufficient scientific evidence exists to support the use of XanGo juice for the treatment of cancer in humans.”

Health24’s DietDoc has the following to say: 

  • Mangosteen has recently been introduced to the West and is now being exploited as a “wonder cure-all".
  • There is as yet no scientific proof that mangosteen is effective for use in any of the suggested treatments – allergies and diabetes etc. – and we don’t have data about correct dosage or side-effects.
  • There is some information that mangosteen interacts with a number of standard pharmaceutical drugs such as anticoagulants etc., and should thus not be used by anyone on this kind of treatment.
  • It seems that the XanGo organisation in SA uses the same principles of salesmanship as all the other companies that sell “herbal wonder drugs” (aka snake oil).
  • Without good quality human studies that show positive results, mangosteen cannot be recommended for the treatment of any medical condition at present.

Your comments:

We asked our Facebook friends whether they had tried Xango juice and if it worked for them. One user said it was expensive and couldn't say that it made any difference to her health. Another said it made no difference and it was all just a "money making scheme". 

Is Xango juice the new superfood? Let us know what you think.

Read more:

Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana)
Celebs who fall for health scams
What’s so 'super' about superfoods?

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