Native to West Africa, Irvingia gabonensis is a fruit similar to a mango, used for various purposes. It is commonly known as the African mango, bush mango, ogbono, dika, and odika. Even though the tree is indigenous to West Africa, it is used in locations and countries all around the world.
The fruit itself is most commonly used as food and to make wine. Besides that, other parts of the tree are also usable, especially the seeds as they are used to make various sorts of medicine. These seeds are used for medicinal purposes as they are full of fiber, fat, and carbohydrates.
The many metabolic, dietary and other benefits of African mango are credited to the combination of all these nutrients. The most prominent benefit that comes from this wondrous tree is its ability to burn fat and helping people to shed weight. In fact, in the weight-loss industry, it is used to make healthy and natural supplements, which have been dubbed as miracle supplements.
Various studies on the plant have shown that it boosts leptin levels, suppressing unwanted sugar spikes. Besides that, various nutrients and compounds in Irvingia help in breaking down fat in the body.
The extracts made to lower obesity may act as appetite suppressants and help in controlling hunger craving. And since these extracts are made from natural products, they are a much safer alternative to chemically laden diet pills that have more side-effects than benefits.
While this might sound beneficial enough, the fruit is used for other reasons including lowering cholesterol levels and controlling diabetes. The high fiber content in the kernels or seeds of Irvingia might be able to lower cholesterol and remove it from the body.
The following information is going to educate you more on what Irvingia gabonensis is and how it benefits the body in different ways.
As we learned above, Irvingia gabonensis is a fruit-bearing tree that grows in the wet, tropical climate of Central and West Africa. The fruit that grows on the tree looks like a mango. Hence, the name African mango, bush mango, and wild mango.
The fruit is used in several ways by the locals. Usually, the fruit’s flesh is used as food and also to make wine. Other than that, other parts of the fruit including the seeds and nuts are also used for various medicinal purposes. For instance, the bark, roots, seeds, and leaves of the tree are used to make traditional African medicine.
While the fruit itself is full of good fats and other nutrients, its seeds and nuts are full of high levels of protein and fiber. The benefits of both these ingredients can be extracted in dry or fresh form.
These seeds are mostly used to prepare dietary supplements to help people lose weight and shed the fat content of their body. The high fiber and protein content in the seeds is considered to catalyze fat breakdown, leading to a leaner and slimmer body.
Along with weight loss, the high fiber content in Irvingia also metabolizes cholesterol. This prompts the removal of cholesterol from the body and keeps it in check. This makes African mango capable of possibly improving cardiovascular health in obese individuals.
With many studies showing promising results for the benefits of the African mango, it is understandable why Irvingia holds this much importance in traditional African medicine and as weight-loss supplements.
- It aids in weight loss by controlling your appetite
- Helps to control cholesterol and blood sugar
- It improves adiponectin and leptin sensitivity
Dubbed as a miracle supplement, Irvingia is purported to be an astringent, analgesic, antibacterial, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory. All these properties combined with other nutritional properties of the fruit provide benefits such as:
1. Promotes Weight Loss and Lowers Cholesterol
The top benefit African mango provides is its help in losing weight. The supplements contain nutrients that suppress leptin production in the body, which helps curb and manage hunger.
With appetite managed in a healthy way, it helps in keeping fat from building in the body. Also, a two 10-week and 4-week studies on Irvingia showed that the supplements also suppress PPAR-gamma.
Along with that, African mango also has an inhibitory effect on the glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase enzyme. This means that the fruit decreases the amount of this enzyme, which converts glucose into fat and stores it in the body. Both of these metabolic activities leas to less mount of body fat, shedding it from places like the abdomen and waist.
As for cholesterol, the high fiber content of in the seeds of Irvingia helps decrease the amount of LDL or bad cholesterol meanwhile increasing the levels of HDL or good cholesterol.
2. Reduces Blood Pressure
Several studies show that Irvingia seems to have an effect called vasodilation in the body. This is linked to the dilation of blood vessels, reducing systolic blood pressure.
This benefit has some proof in a 2-week study that shows a reduction in the systolic blood pressure in 28 obese individuals.
3. Regulated Blood Sugar Levels
Insulin resistance is often regulated by consuming a soluble fiber-rich diet, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Since African mango seeds used in supplements are rich in soluble fiber, they might be able to help manage diabetes.
A study conducted with 102 overweight individuals shoed results that with prolonged use (8 weeks), African Mango seeds were able to lower blood pressure by 25%.
4. Helps Improve Gastrointestinal Health
It is a well-known fact that a significant amount of soluble fiber can do wonders for the gastrointestinal system. The fiber-rich Irvingia seeds are perfect for relieving several digestive issues such as constipation.
A study conducted on rats and guinea pigs showed that African mango extracts were able to prevent diarrhea and ulcer formation in the animals’ digestive system.
5. Antioxidant Benefits
According to a cell-based study, African mango demonstrated a significant amount of antioxidant activity. This means that Irvingia extract or supplements are able to remove free radicals from the bloodstream.
In a study conducted on rats with metal-induced liver toxicity, Irvingia leaf extract was able to improve the rats’ overall liver function.
6. Antibiotic and Analgesic Benefits
The extract of Irvingia root and leaves was observed to have a high level of antimicrobial activity in a controlled study. Besides that, extracts from the bark, roots, and leaves were able to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi.
Also, a study conducted on mice, African mango stem and bark extracts showed analgesic activity that was comparable to morphine. While these results show promise, the mechanisms are still unclear.
The benefits mentioned above are some of the top ones currently acknowledged by studies and they represent the effectiveness of African mango.
African mango is mainly used around the world as a weight loss supplement. Properties like soluble fiber and other compounds make it promising as a natural appetite suppressant. This is why Irvingia extract is a major component of various diet pills. Hence, the effects of African mango are most prominent in obese and overweight individuals.
The compound and fiber give Irvingia an emulsifying quality. This effects weight management variables as fiber has a significant impact on the digestive system and satiation perception. These are among many other effects of African mango.
A clinical study was conducted recently to test the effect 150 mg Irvingia doses over 10 weeks. The result showed an 87% increase in the subjects’ ability to control their appetites. Along with that, a 6.3% body fat reduction was observed in the subject’s body.
The effects of the extracts are more prominent and effective when combined with Cissus quadrangularis. This supplement is known to reduce fat absorption and carbohydrates in blood, reducing the overall fat content in the body.
A study was conducted to see how much more effective weight loss is with Irvingia and Cissus combined. Subjects were given 150 mg Irvingia with Cissus, which resulted in 20.65% weight reduction compared to the 14.63% of Cissus-only reduction.
While there is a need for large-scale clinical trials that further solidify these results, both of these studies show great promise in the effectiveness of the African mango supplements and extracts. Other studies on animals and some clinical trials have been conducted in the recent past. The results from these studies also shed a positive light on the metabolic benefits of African mango supplements.
To understand a little bit more about how these effects happen in the body, let’ take a look at Irvingia’s mechanism of action.
The first mechanism to understand is related to the weight-loss quality of African mango. As we have established, the seed of Irvingia is rich with soluble fiber. This means that these fibers form bulk i.e. they delay the time at which food leaves the digestive system. This suppresses hunger, lowers the rate of blood sugar absorption and decreases blood glucose levels right after a meal.
Also, African mango seed increases the amount of adiponectin production, which in turn catalyzes fat breakdown and manages glucose levels. This property of the seeds also contributes to its analgesic and antioxidant qualities. Irvingia seeds also inhibit the activity of PPAR-Gamma, which encourages weight gain.
An appetite-regulating hormone, leptin is basically a signal that lets our brain know if the body needs food or not. If leptin levels are low, our brain triggers hunger. In the opposite case, high leptons levels signal that the body is satiated.
Some individuals can develop resistance to this hormone, which means their brain can’t decide when to eat. This often leads to obesity. African mango extracts somehow reverses this resistance and normalizes leptin response.
Secondly, these fibers in African mango seeds can attach themselves to bile salts. This mechanism of action explains how Irvingia is able to reduce and remove cholesterol from the body. The fibers attached to bile salts, excrete them out of the body in the stool. To cover for the deficiency, cholesterol converts to bile salt, decreasing blood cholesterol levels.
Irvingia extracts contain many different compounds with antioxidant properties. These include flavonoids, alkaloids, anthocyanins, and phlobatannins. All of these compounds scavenge for free radical in the blood stream and remove them.
The extracts from the bark, leaves, and roots of African mango contain compounds like terpenoids and ellagic acid. These have antifungal and antibacterial properties that charge at bacteria by damaging their microbial membranes. This prevents microbial adhesions from forming and inactivates microbial enzymes.
According to a 2012 study, African mango supplements and extracts taken in doses as high as 2500 mg/kg bw/day have no damaging effects. This includes situations when a crude seed extract is used for up to 4 weeks and when a specific seed extract (IGOB131) is consumed for up to 10 weeks. Hence, it has been labeled as generally safe to use.
However, in a few cases, some side effects do appear. But these side effects are minor, mild, and temporary. In most cases, these include headaches, flatulence, and sleep problems. Besides these, no other significant side effects have been observed.
But like any other supplements, there are some precautions that you need to be mindful of before taking Irvingia extracts or supplements. You need to consider that since not everyone’s body is equal, it is not suitable for everyone.
For instance, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are advised not to use African mango. This is done because while there are several studies in Irvingia’s favor, they are not enough to declare safe in that condition. It is better to stay on the safe side and avoid consumption.
Diabetics are also advised to use African mango with a physician’s approval. Irvingia gabonensis can lower blood sugar level in diabetic patients. Make sure that you monitor your blood sugar levels frequently and take precaution to avoid getting hypoglycemia.
Lastly, patients who have a scheduled surgery coming up should stop taking Irvingia 2 weeks before the procedure. The compounds in the extract might change blood sugar levels and make them hard to control during and after surgery.
If you are not any of these conditions, then the chances of experiencing side effects are low. You can effectively use African mango supplements to shed the extra pounds and maintain your weight in a healthy and natural way.
- The effect of Irvingia gabonensis seeds on body weight and blood lipids of obese subjects in Cameroon
- The efficacy of Irvingia gabonensis supplementation in the management of overweight and obesity: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.
- UHPLC/HRMS Analysis of African Mango (Irvingia gabonensis) Seeds, Extract and Related Dietary Supplements
- IGOB131, a novel seed extract of the West African plant Irvingia gabonensis, significantly reduces body weight and improves metabolic parameters in overweight humans in a randomized double-blind placebo controlled investigation
- The Efficacy of Irvingia Gabonensis Supplementation in the Management of Overweight and Obesity: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials