mango: food of the gods

The mango (Mangifera indica), also known as "the food of the gods", is an enormously popular fruit throughout the Indian subcontinent.  Mangoes have been cultivated in South Asia for thousands of years, and cultivation in East Asia began between the 4th and 5th centuries AD.  The trees tend to be very long-lived, and some have been known to continue to produce fruit after 300 years.  India is the largest producer of mango, and generated 18 million tons of the fruit in 2013 alone.  However, this number accounts for less 1% of the world trade of mangoes, as most mangoes grown in India are also consumed there.

The mango has been used in Ayurvedic medicine, and indeed its fruit contains very high levels of vitamin C and folate.  The fruit, leaves, stone, and bark have all been used for their astringent, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties.  Mango contains mangiferin, a xanthonoid which has scientifically demonstrated both anti-microbial and anti-oxidant activity.  Mango seed butter, extracted from the kernel, is highly emollient and offers protection against UV radiation.  It is soothing to the skin and has been used in the treatment of skin rashes, sunburn, and insect bites. 

As with many foods found in South Asia, there are also numerous cultural and spiritual associations with the mango.  The Mughal emperor Akbar reportedly planted a mango orchard with 100,000 trees.  The Jain goddess Ambika is traditionally represented sitting under a mango tree.  Ganesha frequently holds a ripe mango as a symbol of attainment to represent the potential perfection of his devotees, while mango blossoms are used in the worship of the goddess Saraswati. The classical Sanskrit poet Kalidasa is also said to have sung the praises of mango.  We too sing the praises of this wonderful fruit by including it as a key component in our Mango Butter Eye Treatment.

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