The immune system has three main functions:
- protects the body from pathogens (external invading agents that cause diseases)
- removes damaged cells and tissues
- recognizes and removes abnormal cells (cancer cells)
Immune system consists of many factors, whose sole purpose is to keep the body healthy. Therefore it is very important that the immune defenses are always high. Many important nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, support the fisiologic immune system functions, but Nature also offers us many helpers.
The Mangosteen is surely an important example: it is considered a “superfruit”, it derives from the tropical plant Garcinia mangostana and it originates in some regions of Southeast Asia.
This particular fruit has several benefic properties and it contains a quantity of active principles responsible of different healing properties: pulp and pericarp are rich in some poliphenols, named xanthones, with anti-inflammatory properties because they can stop prostaglandin synthesis, which are the main mediators of inflammation.
α-mangostin seems to be the most active compound. It is effective also as antioxidant, because it is able to contrast free radicals’ damages. Mangosteen contains also a great quantity of Vitamin C, group B Vitamins (especially folic acid), which are involved in immune system support. It contains then fibers and minerals, as Copper, Manganese, Magnesium and a good quantity of Calcium and Potassium.
In a randomized double-blind placebo study, 59 subjects involved have been treated with a mangosteen product enriched in vitamins and minerals for 30 days. At the end of the treatment, in the mangosteen group has been detected an increase of T-helper cells (principal cells involved in immune response) and a decrease of C-reactive protein (involved in acute inflammation) and the group reported better overall health.
From the Traditional Chinese Medicine we find the famous Shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes).
In 1500 in China Shiitake was already well known, both as a food and as an herbal remedy. In centuries it has been used to treat flu symptoms, fever, bronchitis and allergies.
Nowadays Shiitake is increasingly widespread, in particular in the macrobiotic diet, both as fresh and as dried mushroom, because of its benefic properties.
It contains several essential aminoacids, fibers and unsaturated fats, and it is an excellent source of pro-vitamin D (ergosterol) which transforms in calciferol (vitamin D) with ultraviolet light. It contains also group B Vitamins and minerals.
His main property is surely immunostimulating ability, principally due to polysaccharides. Some of these components have been isolated and one in particular, lentinan (a β-glucan), has demonstrated major activity.
In a randomized double-blind placebo study, 42 subjects have been involved. Following the intake of Lentinex (a Shiitake mushroom extract standardized in lentinan) for 6 weeks, it has been detected a significant increase of lymphocytes B levels.
Tang, Y.P.; Li, P.G.; Kondo, M.; Ji, H.P.; Kou, Y.; Ou, B. Effect of a mangosteen dietary supplement on human immune function: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J. Med. Food 2009, 12, 755–763.
Gaullier, J.M.; Sleboda, J.; Øfjord, E.S.; Ulvestad, E.; Nurminiemi, M.; Moe, C.; Tor, A.; Gudmundsen, O.
Supplementation with a soluble-glucan exported from Shiitake medicinal mushroom, Lentinus edodes (Berk.) msinger mycelium: A crossover, placebo-controlled study in healthy elderly. Int. J. Med. Mushrooms 2011, 13,319–326.