Commentary: Mangosteen Juice: Is It Really the Doctors’ Choice?
By David J Kozlowski
A full-color, four-page newspaper-style newsletter is stacked by a checkout counter at a local delicatessen.
A banner across the top proclaims it is a “Special Report,” and the newsletter’s title, “The Doctors’ Choice: Cutting Edge Information for the Health Conscious Person.” I’m a health- conscious person, so I took a free copy.
Below the banner, in big purple letters was the word “Mangosteen,” with a brief description: “Nature’s Magic Miracle for Optimum Health and Wellness.” Articles touted the benefits of drinking mangosteen juice. Having never heard of Mangosteen, I looked into it.
Mangosteen is a tropical tree that bears an edible fruit. The fruit has two parts — an inedible rind and the aril (edible pulp) inside. The aril is said to taste sweet and citrusy with hints of peach. Mangosteen is sometimes marketed as a “superfruit,” said to be tasty, full of nutrients, high in antioxidants and having the potential of lowering disease, although no official definition of “superfruit” exists. In truth, mangosteen falls short of all but the first description.
The edible pulp has a negligible amount of antioxidants, almost no nutrients and provides no known benefit to overall health, according to a 2007 article by Paul M. Gross, Ph.D. in physiology, and Ian Crown for the Natural and Nutritional Products Industry (NPI) Center. Their research indicates that “all mangosteen’s micronutrients fall below 5 percent of their respective Dietary Reference Intake.”
Another claim, that mangosteen is rich in antioxidant phytochemicals called “xanthones,” is misleading. Xanthones are found only in the inedible rind. Further, the medical efficacy of xanthones is not fully understood. Even if medical testing of xanthones proves positive, the edible pulp is still devoid of xanthones, so such a study would not indicate a benefit.
Any beneficial properties of mangosteen juice seem to come entirely from sources apart from edible mangosteen. Gross’s article indicates that “all ‘mangosteen’ juices on the market contain juices of other high- antioxidant fruits” and some may contain xanthone extracts from mangosteen rind. These outside sources account for any antioxidant benefits. For those wanting to consume antioxidants, blueberries and cranberries are preferred, as they are higher in antioxidants, according to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.
The newsletter’s articles were written by three chiropractors, a dentist, a plastic surgeon, a urologist, a doctor who practices allopathy, another who practices naturopathy, a Ph.D. in holistic nutrition and a doctor whose specialty is not listed. The newsletter uses the logical fallacy of “argument from authority” by implying doctors’ support of mangosteen juice means it must be good for you.
Claims made in the doctors’ articles are similar, with most presenting anecdotal assertions that drinking mangosteen juice correlated with feeling better and healthier. Some claim they now recommend the juice to their patients. Urologist Adel Mohamed implies it can be used to cure hyperglycemia, indigestion, diabetes, high blood pressure, and fibromyalgia.
Dr. Albert Miller claims a study he performed with some patients found clear benefits from the juice, although he does not specify what those benefits were.
Chiropractor Carl Pearson lists nine reasons “why I recommend mangosteen juice,” in which he uses phrases such as “it may help,”"it can be,”"overall feeling of wellness,”"may be,”"potential,” and “I believe” (four times).
The articles imply that mangosteen juice has curative powers, and it is treated uncritically as a panacea, but clearly suggesting mangosteen juice can replace prescribed medication is dangerous. Dr. Mohamed claims his wife no longer needs medications for her stomach ailments or hormone replacements, and she now only uses a half dose of her cholesterol meds. Dentist Karl Anderson asserts he has substituted the juice for Vioxx and Celebrex, and his mother-in-law no longer needs insulin. Dr. Miller asserts the juice allowed him to eliminate medicines used to control pain, inflammation, blood sugar, blood pressure and depression. And plastic surgeon Allan Perry explains he no longer needs prescription Prilosec. More naive or uninformed readers may conclude they conceivably could drink mangosteen juice in lieu of seeing a medical doctor or taking prescribed medications.
Evaluating mangosteen juice does not seem to fall within the specific expertise of the newsletter’s authors, many of whom are not medical doctors, and none makes a direct claim or cites specific, peer-reviewed studies of the juice’s efficacy. Why would they lie or tout something they know (or should know) is ineffective?
XanGo sells mangosteen juice at $32.50 per bottle through a multi- level marketing system: A person pays fees to become a XanGo distributor, then recruits others to become distributors and receives a percentage of the sales and fees of their recruits, similar to a pyramid or Ponzi scheme (This comparison is not intended as a legal judgment.). The sales technique is relevant, however, because Dr. Miller links to XanGo.com from his Evergreen Wellness Center’s Web site. Anderson has a XanGo ad on his. So do chiropractors Fred Benz and Jeffrey Brunner. In fact, of seven newsletter authors with Web sites, five advertised or directly promoted XanGo. Another has no Web site, but Google linked his name to “mangosteentools.com.” Lest you be fooled, XanGo is a mixture of mangosteen juice and a variety of fruit juices, as described above.
If these hints of conflicts of interest are not enough to persuade you that “The Doctors’ Choice” may not be the most accurate name for the newsletter, the paper also includes a small-print disclaimer on the last page indicating the statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and mangosteen juice is “not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease” and the information is “not to be construed as providing medical advice.”
So, despite all the explicit and implicit testimonials and assertions, by admission the juice is not intended to provide any of the benefits ascribed to it. Still, people are buying mangosteen juice. Julian Mellentin, author and editor of “New Nutrition Business,” and a specialist in food, nutrition and health business, indicated in 2006 that consumers, even skeptics, tend not to be suspicious of new fruits, since fruits are believed to be naturally healthy overall.
In the case of mangosteen juice, drink it for the taste and you’ll taste other fruits, drink it because it’s the “doctors’ choice,” and you’ll taste the bitterness of a rip-off.
For more information see: www.xango.com; www.drsam-walters.com/ about_dr_walter.html; www.atlasfirstchiropractic.com; www.benzchiropractic.com (“contact us” link); www.toothbuilder.com/ indexone.htm; www.evergreenwellnesscenter.com; or Google “xango debunked.”
David J. Kozlowski is a Rochester-based attorney. The opinions expressed in the article are his and not intended to reflect the opinions of or anyone with whom he is affiliated. Questions or comments can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published by David J. Kozlowski.
(c) 2007 Daily Record (Rochester, NY). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.