It’s 3pm and the familiar afternoon slump sets in: You have trouble focusing, your brain slows down, and you’re already eyeing your third cup of coffee, even though you know it might only make things worse. You might want to try mango leaf extract, a centuries-old herbal remedy with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that has been shown to improve focus, sharpen thinking, and clear brain fatigue.
You’ve probably eaten the sweet, juicy fruit of the mango tree, either fresh or dried. You might not know that all parts of the tree have been used in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine for thousands of years.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22228940/
The leaves are especially potent. They start life as a reddish purple color then develop into a darker green color as they mature, growing to around 10 inches.
Here’s a look at some of the benefits of mango leaf extract, how to take it, and known side effects.
Mango Leaf Extract Benefits
High in Polyphenols
Mango leaves are a powerful source of polyphenols, plant compounds that could lower inflammation by neutralizing cell-damaging molecules called free radicals. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29456572/https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18558692/ The more of these antioxidants you take in, the better.
Mango leaves are especially high in a polyphenol called mangiferin. Found in the fruit, leaves, bark, peel, and seeds, mangiferin has been studied for its brain-boosting, cancer-fighting and anti-aging potential.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30280187/
Supercharges the Brain
If you’re looking for an alternative to caffeine, mango leaf extract could give your brain the jolt it needs, minus the jitters.
One study found that mango leaf extract acted in a similar way to caffeine by helping neurons connect more quickly, leading to sharper thinking and increased focus. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325268955_ZynamiteR_Mangifera_indica_Leaf_Extract_and_Caffeine_Act_in_a_Synergistic_Manner_on_Electrophysiological_Parameters_of_Rat_Central_Nervous_System
Note: Both studies were sponsored by the manufacturer of the mango leaf extract used in the trials.
Mangiferin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may also slow down age-related cognitive decline, therefore preventing or easing symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27537110/
A 2021 literature review of various animal studies found that a dose ranging between 10 and 200 mg per kg of body weight improved spatial awareness (how aware you are of your surroundings) and strengthened short-term and long-term memory. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1319562X20305982
Potentially Fights Cancer Cells
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to healing an injury. But inflammation becomes a problem when your body struggles to rid itself of certain invaders — like a virus, a food you’re sensitive to, or polluted air. Or, in the case of an autoimmune disorder, your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells. Over time, this chronic inflammation can start to damage healthy tissue and organs. Research has drawn a link between chronic inflammation and a host of diseases, including cancer.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2803035/
Studies show mango leaf extract’s anti-inflammatory powers may inhibit the growth of cancer cells, particularly in lung, brain, breast, prostate, colon, cervical cancers, and leukemia.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27219221/https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20205391/
One study found that mango leaf extract decreased Nuclear Factor-κB (NF-κB), a protein that, when activated, causes the proliferation of cancer cells.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7464564/https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2017.142
Mango leaf extract should not replace cancer treatment. Speak with your doctor or healthcare practitioner before taking it.
May Prevent Weight Gain
Mango leaf extract’s ability to lower inflammation could help to curb the weight gain associated with metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes.
In one study, mice given mango leaf extract were less likely to gain weight and had a more stable pancreatic function, which helps balance blood sugar levels and appetite. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27537110/
In a 2015 study, 97 overweight adults who took 150 mg of mangiferin a day had lower fat levels in their blood and decreased insulin resistance (too much of which can lead to weight gain and diabetes) than a placebo group.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25989216/
How to Take Mango Leaf
So, you’re ready to try mango leaf extract. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a mango tree growing in your backyard, you have other options. You can take mango leaf extract in supplement or powder form, or drink it as tea or juice.
Mango Leaf Supplement Dose
The easiest way to get the benefits of mango leaf extract is to take it as a supplement. A patented formula called Zynamite® contains 60% or more of mangiferin (the antioxidant powerhouse we touched on earlier). Most studies find that a dose of 300 mg a day is enough to see benefits.
Zynamite can be part of supplement blends that are formulated at an appropriate dose alongside ingredients that work together to enhance its effects, like Formula nootropics.
Culinary Uses of Mango Leaf
In Southeast Asia, the leaves are cooked and added to curries, or eaten raw alongside rice. You can buy mango leaves online (Amazon and Walmart sell them) or at specialty Indian grocery stores.
In some cultures, the leaves are commonly consumed as juice or tea. To make your own mango leaf tea, boil 10 or so mango leaves in a cup of water. Strain the mixture and sip away!
Or you can blend up 3-4 leaves with the juice of one lemon, a one-inch piece of fresh ginger, one cup of water, and an optional half cup of sugar and pour over ice for a refreshing drink.
Mango Leaf Side Effects
Though no human safety studies have been conducted, mango leaf products are widely believed to be safe for human consumption. As with anything, consult with your doctor before taking any mango leaf products.