The mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical evergreen tree, believed to have originated in the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas. The tree grows from 7 to 25 meters tall. The edible fruit is deep reddish purple when ripe. In Asia, the mangosteen fruit is known as the “Queen of Fruits”.
The shell of mangosteens looks tough and hard, but they are soft and easy to open. Care must be taken when opening the fruit as the red husk outside produces a purplish, inky juice that stains fabric, which can be almost impossible to remove (the reason why they are banned from some hotels in countries where they are available). To open a mangosteen, the shell is usually broken apart, not cut. Holding the fruit in both hands, press it gently (thumbs on one side, the other fingers on the other) until the shell cracks. It is then very easy to pull the halves apart along the crack and remove the fruit without staining.
Medicinal Uses: Dried fruits are shipped from Singapore to Calcutta and to China for medicinal use. The sliced and dried rind is believed to contain over 40 Xanthones, super anti-oxidants and is powdered and administered to overcome dysentery. Made into an ointment, it is applied on eczema and other skin disorders. The rind decoction is taken to relieve diarrhea and cystitis, gonorrhea and gleet and is applied externally as an astringent lotion. A portion of the rind is steeped in water overnight and the infusion given as a remedy for chronic diarrhea in adults and children. Filipinos employ a decoction of the leaves and bark as a febrifuge and to treat thrush, diarrhea, dysentery and urinary disorders. In Malaya, an infusion of the leaves, combined with unripe banana and a little benzoin is applied to the wound of circumcision. A root decoction is taken to regulate menstruation. A bark extract called “amibiasine”, has been marketed for the treatment of amoebic dysentery.