Mangosteen juice is being promoted as the next panacea.  XanGo and other juice pushers are touting mangosteen as a super fruit, but at almost $40 a bottle don’t bother.

Mangosteen juice has taken the juice market by storm, and XanGo has racked up over $1 billion in sales over the past 5 years.  The sales pitch follows the lines that the mangosteen fruit contains powerful and unique anti-oxidants that can boost the immune system and improve joint function.  The XanGo people also claim that mangosteen contains other chemicals that are really not known to science.

The Associated Press (AP) conducted a study on XanGo and other juices that purport to offer anti-oxidant protection and found that the mangosteen juice is pretty unremarkable when compared to other, much less expensive juices.  The AP submitted a 750-milliliter bottle of XanGo to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University to measure the anti-oxidant strength of the nearly $40 bottle of mangosteen juice against juices that sell for a couple of bucks per bottle.

The anti-oxidant level of XanGo measured just slightly higher than cranberry juice and lower than black cherry juice.  Blueberry juice blew the doors off of XanGo, providing more than twice the levels of anti-oxidants. According to Balz Frei the Director and Chairman of the Pauling Institute, XanGo juice is just a middle of the pack performer.

You would expect – and should get – a lot more from a bottle of juice that costs almost 40 bucks.  Putting mangosteen juice in sports terms, XanGo is the New York Yankees of “super fruit juices;” they cost more but don’t perform any better.

And here’s the dirty little secret about anti-oxidants.  While science can confirm the existence of anti-oxidants, Frei of the Pauling Institute points out what he and other scientists are aware of but that supplement companies don’t want to tell you; these substances work in test tubes but haven’t shown to work inside a living, breathing human.  Oops.

For all the work they can do in a test tube, our stomach acids are very nasty and most likely neutralize the anti-oxidants before they can provide any benefits.  As a matter of fact, stomach acids have this affect on most everything we ingest, and this is why most dietary supplements will not work as advertised.

Supplement marketers play a game when confronted with the reality that science and research does not back up their claims.  And while these hucksters make all kinds of claims on the front side of the transaction when they are trying to sell us, they change their tune and abandon the path of proof when faced with the challenge of addressing the lack of science.

Mike Pugh, the manager of Research and Development for XanGo, provides a great example of this.  In the face of the AP’s results, Pugh says that XanGo contains “a rich cocktail of other beneficial chemicals barely known to science,” and calls mangosteen “a fruit that’s very complicated, with a lot of chemicals in it.”  Furthermore, Pugh says the anti-oxidant ratings are just a “numbers game.”

Sure.  And in the Super Bowl between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots the score is just a “numbers game,” and that everyone knows the Patriots are better and therefore should be considered the champs.

Pugh provides the classic supplement huckster response when he tells the AP that the scientific debate is pointless if mangosteen makes people feel better.  This viewpoint is perfect for those involved in these “multilevel marketing companies” – I think this is a nice term for what used to be called a Ponzi or Pyramid scheme.  In the AP piece a XanGo sales executive is quoted as saying, “I didn’t have to have it confirmed in the New England medical journal (sic) before I would listen.”

Why let little things like facts and proof get in the way when there are billions of dollars to be made? These supplement hucksters have created a universe where they tell us that there is science that backs up their claims, but then when they are made aware of reality, in that science does not back them up, they denigrate science, invent new science and/or invoke the “if it makes people feel good, it must work” defense.  And this makes sense to them. 

This passes for logic. It’s actually quite pathetic.

And it’s quite sad that so many people fall prey to this kind of nonsense.  I’ve been approached by “XanGo-istas” and other mangosteen pushers and they have “no game” when it comes to explaining away the very real problems with their claims.  The Food and Drug Administration isn’t as easy to disregard, as are most consumers, and has already warned XanGo for claiming that their juice could ward off cancer and other diseases.  XanGo claims that some brochures were printed by a third-party, and that the company isn’t to blame for this action.  The FDA told the AP that this matter isn’t closed.

And if you go to the XanGo site you’ll see that while they aren’t making any promises about major diseases, we’re told that their juice will “help maintain intestinal health, strengthen the immune system, neutralize free radicals, help support cartilage and joint function, and promote a healthy seasonal respiratory system.*”

The * directs you to the usual disclaimer that says it all; “*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

And if you are of the opinion that anti-oxidants in fruit juice can be effective, go out and buy some cranberry, blueberry or black cherry juice, or pomegranate juice.  There certainly isn’t any reason to purchase a less-than-liter bottle of $37.50 Xango juice.


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