Xanthones, Mangosteen, and Xango-type
It is helpful to look at the technical quality of a product apart from whatever business structure or marketing a company uses. The assessment below is in 2 parts: one on the MLM marketing structure and one on the actual product. It is provided for independent information and ideas only.
last updated 8.25.05
Part 1: What is Xango and xango-type products
Xango is a word made from combining the name of the fruit mangosteen with the name of the basic functional element in the fruit, xanthones. Basically the Xango looks like a raw fruit juice (like papaya juice with pulp included) with other fruit juices added. The main functional components are xanthones (which are antioxidants just like other fruit juices have antioxidants) and polysaccharides.
Here is a good link on the various antioxidants and their health benefits. Xanthones are listed under polyphenols, and so this juice is very likely high in phenols, if that is a concern. If Xango contains raw fruit and is not heat treated, it probably has some active enzymes in it like other raw fruit juices do.
Here is a botanical description on mangosteen from Purdue Horticulture:
Here is FAQ on mangosteen from a marketing site:
If anyone is wanting to research this, search under xanthones, mangosteen, or `xanthones –xango'. By using the minus sign with xango or `-xango' in a google search, it will eliminate most of the Xango marketing sites and you are much more likely to find objective information on just xanthones. Pubmed searches on xanthones or the botanical name of the mangosteen plant, garcinia mangostana, may be more helpful than looking for Xango.
The ingredients in Xango are:
- Reconstituted garcinia mangostana juice from whole fruit
- apple juice concentrate
- pear juice concentrate
- grape juice concentrate
- pear puree
- blueberry juice concentrate
- raspberry juice concentrate
- strawberry juice concentrate
- cranberry juice concentrate
- cherry juice concentrate,
- citric acid, natural flavor, pectin, xanthan gum, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate.
So Xango is a blend of assorted fruits juices/purees any of which is known to have antioxidant and fruit benefits.
A fair amount of the science said to be associated with Xango is on the benefits of antioxidants which have been well-studied in the past and known to be good for overall health. Nothing wrong with good sources of antioxidants. Most people don't get enough of them or of nutritious whole foods. So if you are on a poor diet to begin with, taking this product will likely produce some benefits in overall health.
What I didn't find was how the antioxidants in Xango were significantly different from just consuming other whole-food sources of antioxidants in other fruit purees, fruits or vegetables. That would be the interesting part. What is the difference in using Xango versus straight blueberry and cherry juice? If anyone has studies for this, please send them to me.
The references given above reads `the biochemically active components of the Mangosteen have been rigorously examined in the laboratory.' This does not indicate how those active components affect human health in clinical studies. It could be that when consumed in every day life by humans as Xango, the active components don't produce any benefits…or any benefit that is different than drinking other fruit juices or eating fresh fruit. It just isn't clear. Studying isolated nutrients can be very different than how those nutrients function in the body as a whole-food. However, it would be reasonable to think you would get as least as much benefit as other high-antioxidant fruit concentrated products.
A big selling point is that it tastes great (like many other fruit juices). But I have heard `it tastes great' about many `health food' products and supplements and personally thought they were dreadful simply not able to choke it down. So `it tastes great' is definitely a relative term. Being made from fruits with the natural sugars, it likely does have some type of natural sweet taste…maybe like a berry blend. In this regard, Xango may be beneficial to health just as the 5 recommended servings of fruits and vegetables a day would. However, at $25-$40 a bottle, there are some really great fruit juices or fruit purees on the market that would be less expensive you could try first.
Regarding price, it might be good to consider how much you are typically paying for synthetic upplements. Xango sounds like it would be a whole-food form of nutrition instead of individual synthetic supplements. Thus you might very well see some benefits due to that, particularly if you haven't been so successful getting your child to eat any other source of whole-food fruits, vegetables, or juices. However, a No-Fenol enzyme might be needed if the person is sensitive to phenols/salicylates. Compare with other sources of whole- food based fruit nutrition: Juice Plus, Radical Fruits, juicing, etc.
Xango is not the only mangosteen product available. Here are others and some list comparison information. Different products may have different fruit mixes.
Mangosteen Plus (TM)
Essential Vitamins™ Plus Mangosteen!
Essential Nutrition Program Plus
Another assessment by someone else
Part 1 1/2: Analysis from Supplementwatch
***From www.supplementwatch.com - the consumer watcher of the industry***
Supplements A-Z | Supplement Categories Product Reviews | Reading List | Return
XanGo: Score 55
Rating: Don't waste your money
Company: Xango Corporation
Claims: Score 10
Claims - The brand name "XanGo" is created from the words xanthones and mangosteen. XanGo is a fruit drink that contains mangosteen and claims "to harness the incredible nutritional power of the whole mangosteen fruit". Mangosteen is a fruit grown primarily in Southeast Asia where it is often called "Queen of Fruits" due to its pleasant flavor. The mangosteen fruit contains a compound called xanthones, which is thought to have antioxidant properties. XanGo is marketed as an energy booster and rejuvenator as well as a source of the antioxidant xanthone.
· Antioxidant protection against free radicals
· Cholesterol reduction
· Energy enhancement
Theory: Score 15
Theory - The human body produces free radicals during everyday life. Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd number of (unpaired) electrons. Free radicals are very unstable and react quickly with other compounds. Once formed, free radicals can start a chain reaction of cell damage finally resulting in death of the cell. Antioxidants, such as vitamins A,C, and E, and selenium, are chemicals found in whole foods (especially fruits and vegetables) that help to protect the body's cells from the harmful effects of free radicals. Xanthone is a compound found in mangosteen fruit that may have antioxidant properties.
The XanGo fruit drink contains a variety of fruit juice concentrates including reconstituted garcinia mangostana juice (mangosteen), apple juice concentrate, pear juice concentrate, grape juice concentrate, pear puree, blueberry juice concentrate, raspberry juice concentrate, strawberry juice concentrate, cranberry juice concentrate, cherry juice concentrate, citric acid, natural flavor, pectin, xanthan gum, sodium benzoale, and potassium sorbate.
Science: Score 7
Science - There have been a number of studies on mangosteen fruit and the antioxidant properties of xanthones. In one study, six xanthones found in the mangosteen fruit were isolated from the fruit peel. These xanthones were then tested in vitro (in a test tube) on various tissue cell carcinomas. Of the six xanthones isolated, garcinone E was found to have potent cytotoxic (cancer fighting) effects on cancer cells of the liver, stomach, and lung.
In another study, a mangosteen derivative called gamma-mangostin was found to directly inhibit cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme activity in rat glioma cells. The COX enzyme catalyzes the first step in the creation of prostaglandins from a common fatty acid. It adds two oxygen molecules to arachidonic acid to begin a set of reactions that ultimately creates a host of free radicals. Currently, no clinical trials have proven mangosteen fruit to have anticancer effects in humans and no published studies have proven xanthones to be beneficial to human cells. Additionally, no studies have directly investigated the antioxidant effects of xanthones found in the XanGo fruit drink.
Safety Score: 18
Safety - There have been no reported side effects associated with XanGo. Although the suggested serving of 1 ounce contains only 3 grams of carbohydrate, people with diabetes should avoid drinking large amounts of the fruit drink since it contains a high amount of concentrated sugars.
Value: Score 5
Value - The manufacturer suggests drinking 1 to 2 ounces of XanGo each morning. A 26-ounce bottle of XanGo costs approximately $25 dollars, which totals $1-2 per serving. There are other brands that sell a similar product for $17.50 per 26-ounce bottle. Even if xanthones are potent antioxidants, the amount found in a 1-ounce serving of XanGo is unlikely to have health benefits. For someone interested in increasing their antioxidant intake, a much cheaper (and probably more effective) route would be to increase their intake of whole fruits and vegetables - or even to add a well-balanced antioxidant supplement to their daily regimen. As for the energizing properties of XanGo, there are no ingredients besides calories that will provide added energy.
Part 2: The Marketing Structure
Xango is sold by network marketing in an MLM format. Being an MLM does not make an organization automatically all bad just as being a `traditional' corporation does not make one automatically all good.
However, just the fact Xango is MLM is a gross negative to many people because of some humongous reasons. Many people have horror/harrassment stories about experiences with an MLM in the past either from personal experience or know someone who has. You probably are aware that some MLMs have notorious negative reputations while others do not. The fact that it is MLM may be enough in itself to cancel out any benefits a particular product might have – makes investigating the product simply not worth the time, effort, or risk of getting involved with it.
Autism spectrum conditions is currently a `hot market' and very trendy to tap into to. Most parents of special needs kids are sick and tired of being prey of everyone trying to make a buck off their unfortunate situation. This includes unscrupulous doctors, some autism groups, and 'autism' specialty companies. Families are stressed and tired and only want their child better. And they have to put a certain amount of that precious energy trying to discern which are the legitimate and worthwhile groups and therapies and which are simply trying to make money off of them.
Other people see how much money can be made from `desperate parents' (such as how much some groups and affiliates can make from just saying something might work). Just about anyone can claim to be an `autism dan doctor' and start charging out the ying-yang for whatever he or she wants. Many saw what happened with secretin where vials of sugar water where being sold for thousands of dollars as secretin because some parents wanted it that much. This is frustrating and sad. I hear it happens with other serious illnesses such as cancer and AIDS. Dishonest people figure they can get in on this financial action and cover-up anything they do by saying,"It's just to help the poor little children."
However, it is also true that very honest and ethical people do need to make a living and pay their bills. Good businesses need to be able to pay their bills as well, afford research supplies, and make worthwhile products available.
A big problem with MLMs is the characteristic aggressive sales style particularly at the personal level. Workers are constantly pushed to recruit and sell. The product just about takes a back seat to all the sales. You might be really interested in the product and even really like it, but the standard MLM doesn't allow it to `end' there. You are constantly, indirectly or directly, hounded to `take advantage of the opportunity' to be a distributor and then try to get everyone you know to do the same. MLM workers are told to surround everything they say with lots and lots of excitement to entice others to want to buy and become distributors. They are told to be very enthusiastic and excited to increase sales.
This presents another problem: When is someone really, sincerely excited about something and really trying to share about their child or themselves doing well, and when is it part of the sales pitch? How would know if someone was trying to really be helpful or happy a loved one is better and when is it `marketing'? And when is it a little of both– some truth with extra marketing on added in just? A hard thing to determine right off.
Because Xango is relatively new, there is the added pressure to `get in on' this hot new market and hot new fad. Thus it is extremely important to separate the emotion from the facts. Serious health issues tend to be very emotional anyway. With autism, people are especially highly emotional about their children's health and futures, and very susceptible to emotional plays.
Xango's sales angle combines this `hot, new' product with positioning the juice as exotic from some remote place…with urgency added implying you better get it while you can! your health is ticking away! and thus, quite expensive. It rather reminds me of tales that go,"You can save the beautiful princess from the evil troll's magic spell by making a potion from the rare white juju plant leaves that only grows in the Mysterious Valley past the ancient Maruvian Mountains. But beware: you will need to past through the Dark Forest and Centaur Swamp. Be quick because the juju plant only grows in the late spring and then dies in the summer heat. It doesn't come back for seven more seasons and the princess is in peril."
When you look at Xango sites, you can see the very aggressive marketing push and sales packaging this product is surrounded in. Non-MLM, traditional type businesses may do this too, it is just MLMs rely much more heavily on the `exciting personal testimony'. If you are interested in mangosteen juice, trying one of the non-MLM products might be the way to go first so you can get a more objective feel for any benefits it might have for you.
Bottomline: there is probably some legitimate health benefits to Xango as a natural whole-food fruit juice as a source of nutrition, antioxidants, and other benefits just as other fruits convey such benefits. However, it is surrounded in mega-aggressive marketing, mega-hype with a good size price tag and you might get similar benefits from less expensive sources with less hassle.
There are a number of other 'exotic' type products in this same line and marketing format:
Monavie Acai (under various names including Frutavida)
Tahitian Noni juice
Himalayan Goji Juice
Himalayan Seabuckthorn (as Sibu Balance TM)
Limu Moui (in the waters off the coast of the Pacific island of Tonga)
Note: things like aloe vera may be sold by an MLM company but they are not exclusively sold MLM and sold you can try them at reasonable prices without the hassle over over the top health claims. Other companies may have 'exotic fruit juices' in their line but they sell other items too.
Special Notice for those in Yahoo Discussion Groups: Yahoo has its own policy for certain marketing practices and `spam' for anyone not aware of it. Yahoo has a special area for business and the yahoo groups are limited in what is allowed for business. In more than one place in the terms of service it reads that one agrees to not to: upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain letters," "pyramid schemes," or any other form of solicitation, except in those areas (such as shopping rooms) that are designated for such purpose (please read our complete Spam Policy). Your account and any groups can be immediately terminated without warning. With that as the policy, it is wise to keep in mind that rogue soliciting sales via yahoo discussion groups is clearly frowned upon. Yahoo does have advertising opportunities which companies pay for and those businesses promoting their products appropriately do not much appreciate others trying to use the yahoo system inappropriately. If someone is wanting to directly market their wares via yahoo groups, please contact yahoo and investigate the avenues they have set up for those purposes.
Unfortunately, some of the MLM companies such as Xango are strongly promoting Internet marketing as a strategy. For those dealing with serious health issues, this makes it harder to distinguish what is a real personal experience and helpful from what is not.