African mango (Irvingia gabonensis) dietary supplements have been receiving a great deal of buzz in recent years. African mango supplements are often marketed with claims that the extract enhances weight loss, lowers cholesterol, and controls high blood sugar among diabetics.
About That Mango…
The African mango is a dietary staple of many people in Western and West-Central Africa. The African mango’s flesh is consumed in season, and the single internal seed is split apart to expose the fatty, fiber-rich kernels inside. The kernels are consumed in a variety of ways: dried, roasted, in paste, flours, and soup thickeners. Most of the supplements on the market today are described by the manufacturers as extracts of the seeds or kernels.
African Mango Effects in the Laboratory
A few short-term studies of African mango supplements in humans have been conducted. While the results have been generally positive, with no reported side effects, these studies have not included large numbers of subjects, nor have they spanned long periods of time. However, very little research exists with respect to the side effects of the supplement.
A small laboratory test involving force-feeding African mango kernel extract to rats did not report any observable side effects. No changes in weight, feeding behavior, ophthalmology, hematological chemistry, urine, and organ weight attributable to the extract were observed. Neither did the rats demonstrate evidence of genotoxicity.
Other studies concerning African mango using laboratory rats have demonstrated some unforeseen and mixed results. A study using African mango leaf and bark extracts in laboratory rats raised some concerns about toxicity of the extracts at high doses, as some of the rats did not survive. Another study which fed diabetic rats African mango kernels observed increases in overall cholesterol and triglycerides.
As long-term use of African mango supplements in humans has not yet been thoroughly studied, it’s therefore not recommended to take them for more than several weeks. The most commonly reported side effects among African mango supplement users include gas, headaches, and insomnia.
However, more serious side effects have been reported on at least one occasion. A published case study reported that a forty-five-year-old man taking African mango supplements was admitted to a Turkish hospital, experiencing jaundice, itching, abdominal discomfort, and malaise. The patient had a history of osteoarthritis and obesity. He had been taking African mango seed extract capsules for ten days prior to admission, 350 milligrams twice daily. His symptoms emerged four days after taking the capsules. The patient was ultimately diagnosed with Irvingia gabonensis acute toxic hepatitis. The patient’s liver enzymes returned to normal shortly after discontinuing the African mango capsules.
African mango supplements have not been studied in pregnant and lactating women. Use of the supplements while pregnant or breastfeeding should be avoided.
Taking these supplements could possibly lower blood sugar. As a result, diabetics should monitor their blood sugar levels carefully and be wary of hypoglycemia when taking African mango supplements. People who are also anticipating undergoing surgery or recovering from surgery should also avoid using African mango, as it may interfere with blood sugar levels.
African mango use has not been studied in children, and should therefore be avoided in minors.