Could mangosteens help schizophrenia patients?
Professor John McGrath, of the University of Queensland's (UQ) Queensland Brain Institute is conducting the trial to see if the tropical fruit can help schizophrenia patients.
"This is a gentle and safe intervention which evidence so far suggests could improve symptoms, and it’s important we investigate its potential as a matter of urgency,” Professor McGrath said.
"We aren’t suggesting this is a wonder drug, but we must investigate potential new treatments which are safe, effective and don’t have the current medication’s side-effects like weight gain, which can lead to other major health problems.
"Finding better treatments for schizophrenia is difficult, it will take decades, so let’s start now.”
The mangosteen is a tropical evergreen fruit native to Indonesia, with a thick purple rind that contains compounds called 'xanthones' which are often used in herbal teas and traditional medicines.
For the trial run through Cadence (Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research), 150 people with schizophrenia will be recruited over the next two years in Brisbane, Queensland and in Geelong, Victoria with colleagues at Deakin University.
Participants will receive two tablets a day for 24 weeks, then have four weeks’ follow-up. Their symptoms will be closely monitored, to see whether hallucinations, delusions, moods and energy levels are improved.
Antioxidants are thought to work because they restrict potentially damaging molecules known as 'free radicals' which can build up in certain disease states.
“I’ve found over the years that when you talk to patients or their relatives they say ‘I just don’t want anyone else to go through this’,” Professor McGrath said.
“When people join a clinical trial like this, they become our citizen scientists, part of our research team.
“That is an inspiring and heart-warming trust which we hope will ultimately lead to better lives for all patients, even if it’s only a modest improvement.”
The Cadence trials are funded by Professor McGrath’s National Health and Medical Research Council John Cade Fellowship in Mental Health Research, and by a grant from the Stanley Medical Research Institute in the US.