No seed of truth in mango ‘miracle’ cure

February 4, 2020

Researchers have found no evidence to support the claimed health benefits of a so-called 'miracle' mango supplement.

African mango seed extract is often touted as a weight-loss and general health supplement that also controls blood glucose and cholesterol.

However, systematic reviews of 86 studies by Bond University researchers found the claims could not be backed up.

Sophia Huntley Antippa, who was part of the research team, said the extract was sold online and by some major pharmacies in Australia.

"We thought wow, this really looks too good to be true, so we went ahead and looked at the evidence behind the claims," Ms Huntley Antippa said.

"We found three randomised control trials that looked at the effect of African mango seed extract on weight loss but the maximum duration of any of these trials was only 10 weeks.

"The Therapeutic Goods Administration, which is the regulator for these kinds of products, recommends a minimum of six months follow-up for any studies of products claiming to reduce weight.

"Based on that alone we can't really say that African mango seed extract helps with weight loss."

There were similar results when the team looked into claims the extract controls blood glucose and blood cholesterol.

"We found three or four studies for each claim and they were mostly of poor quality, quite short in duration and some didn't look at clinically appropriate end points.

"So we really can't say there's a robust evidence base for any of the claims that have been made."

Ms Huntley Antippa, a fifth-year Medicine student, said the research team would write to the Therapeutic Goods Administration alleging claims about the product breached the advertising code.

“Our past experience does tell us that a lot of people have put in complaints about other weight-loss products over a long period of time but the Therapeutic Goods Administration does seem a little reluctant to act on the claims,” she said.

“It does appear that the TGA is not able to handle the number and level of complaints being made.”

Dr Paulina Stehlik of Bond University’s Institute for Evidence Based Healthcare said the claims about African mango seed were not unique.

“Almost every student contributing to the project has managed to find a product being advertised to consumers that makes therapeutic claims which lack robust evidence.”