Irvingia gabonensis


All Essential Benefits/Effects/Facts & Information

Irvingia gabonensis is a seed with a high fat content, with little to no historical medicinal usage but is either used in production for cosmetics or other products (due to the physical properties of fatty acids in general) and is sometimes used as a soup thickening agent. The fatty acids in question are mostly saturated and either medium or long in chain length.

This seed is touted to be a fat burning agent based on subpar evidence, as all studies conducted right now have a degree of methodological flaw associated with them and some are confounded with financial support from producers of irvingia gabonensis supplementation. There are no known unique bioactives known yet from irvingia gabonensis that are not located in other food products.

The seed may have health properties in some instances, like most food products do; that being said, there is not enough evidence to support the usage of this seed for any particular use yet.

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How to Take

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

Supplemental dosages of irvingia gabonensis are quite variable, being anywhere between 150-3,200mg taken daily alongside meals. The optimal or effective dose is not currently known, but since the dietary fiber may be the active ingredient then supplementing in the higher end of the aforementioned range may be prudent.

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Editors' Thoughts on Irvingia gabonensis

There is a high probability that Irvingia gabonensis supplementation parallels that of glucomannan supplementation and as such is a soluble fiber with physicochemical properties. This is based on the usage of the seeds as a soup thickener (seen with glucomannan) and recommended to be taken shortly before meals (seen with glucomannan) in order to reduce subsequent food intake (seen with glucomannan).

That being said, glucomannan or konjac root is cheaper and confers more glucomannan per gram. Until further evidence arises, they might be better options.

Kurtis Frank

Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what effects irvingia gabonensis has on your body, and how strong these effects are.

Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Adiponectin Minor Very High See study
An increase in adiponectin is noted with irvingia gabonensis, but this result is somewhat unreliable due to being confounded with both weight loss and industry influence
Blood Glucose Minor Very High See study
May reduce fasting blood glucose following prolonged supplementation; confounded with both weight loss (seen in trials) and industry influence
Blood Pressure Minor Very High See study
A decrease in blood pressure has been noted with weight loss associated with this supplement; no inherent blood pressure reduction has been demonstrated
C-Reactive Protein Minor Very High See study
A decrease in C-reactive protein has been noted, confounded with weight loss and industry influence
Fat Mass Minor Very High See study
A decrease in fat mass has been detected, but may be due to industry influence; independent trials are needed. Mechanism appears to be from suppressing food intake
HDL-C Minor Very High See 2 studies
An increase has been noted, but not to a remarkable degree. Independent trials need to be conducted to confirm.
LDL-C Minor Very High See 2 studies
A decrease in LDL-C has been noted, confounded with both weight loss and industry influence.
Leptin Minor Very High See study
May decrease leptin, but is confounded with weight loss
Total Cholesterol Minor Very High See 2 studies
A decrease in total cholesterol has been noted, but is confounded with weight loss
Triglycerides Minor Very High See study
A decrease in triglycerides has been noted, confounded with weight loss
Weight Minor Very High See 2 studies
Decreased body weight has been noted when african mango is consumed before meals, which may be secondary to reduced food intake; studies are somewhat confounded by industry influence.

Studies Excluded from Consideration

Disagree? Join the Irvingia gabonensis Discussion

1Source and Composition

1.1. Sources

Irvingia Gabonensis is commonly referred to as Bush Mango or African Mango, and belongs to the Irvingiaceae plant family.[2] It is a wild forest tree 15-40m with a bole slightly buttressed, possessing dark green foliage and yellow flowers.[3][4] The fruits of Irvingia Gabonensis, smooth yellow spheres with a hardened endocarp when ripe, possess seeds which are of interst for the usage of food products[5][6] and especially as a soup thickener,[7] pharmaceutical formulations,[8][9][10] and cosmetics.[11] These fruits are sometimes referred to as 'Mangoes' (hence they synonym of African Bush Mango) although they are unrelated, since the true Mango fruits are borne from the plant Mangifera indica of the plant family Anacardiacea; as mangoes sometimes grow in Africa, the differentiation between the two plants becomes important.[12]

Irvingia Gabonensis is a plant, and the fruits it bears are sometimes referred to as the 'Mangoes' or 'African Bush Mangoes' despite being unrelated to the true Mango fruit. Although these fruits can be used as food, the seeds in these fruits are used frequently for various purposes

1.2. Composition

For its usage as a food, the nutritional breakdown of Irvingia Gabonensis seeds appears to be:

  • 683 calories per 100g[13]

  • 10.9+/-0.1% protein by weight (hydrated), being reduced to 8.3+/-0.4% after heat treatment[13]

  • 64.2+/-0.6% fatty acids (ether extract), reduced to 63.1+/-0.5% upon heat treatment, with a general range of 54-67%[14][15]

  • 15.2+/-0.6% carbohydrate (process of elimination), increased to 17.0+/-0.4% after heat treatment[13]

  • 3.4-3.6% crude fiber[13]

  • 2.2-2.7% crude ash (mineral content)[13]

In general, the seeds are comparatively high in fatty acids with a lower carbohydrate, protein, and dietary fiber content in compensation. Despite the gel-forming properties of irvingia gabonensis (as a soup thickener) the fiber component has not yet been characterized

And in particular the fatty acid content (86.56% saturated, 6.99% monounsaturated, 6.45% polyunsaturated; 3% free fatty acids with the rest as triglycerides[15][16]) can be broken down into:

  • lauric (39.35%)[15]

  • myristic (20.54%)[15]

  • palmitic (10.39%)[15]

  • stearic (11.46%)[15]

  • arachidic (4.52%)[15]

  • Caprylic (0.05%)[15]

  • Capric (0.25%)[15]

  • Oleic (6.99%)[15]

  • Linolenic (6.44%)[15]

  • Linoleic (0.01%)[15]

The fatty acid component, which is the majority of the irvingia gabonensis seed, appears to be highly saturated and mostly medium chain triglycerides (similar to Coconut Oil although with a lesser content of short chain fatty acids and more long chain fatty acids)

Beyond the macronutrient profile, Irvingia Gabonensis seeds tend to contain:

  • Ellagic acid, and methylated derivates thereof as well as their glycosides[12]

  • Ellagitannin structures[12]

  • Quercetin-3-O-rhamnoside[12]

  • Kaempferol-3-O-glucoside[12]

  • Possibly a diosmetin content[12]

  • 6.2mg Vitamin C per 100g, reduced to 2.2+/-0.3 after heat treatment[13]

  • 3.5-3.8mg Iron per 100g[13]

  • 120-127mg Calcium per 100g[13]

  • Other minerals such as Magnesium (429+/-0.3ppm dry weight), Zinc (5.7+/-0.2ppm) and potassium (587+/-0.4ppm)[17]

  • Phytate (1043.6+/-0.2mg/g)[17]

In regards to non-caloric bioactives, there do not appear to be any remarkable or unique molecules detected in irvingia gabonensis that are not found in other plants or seeds

Relative to other oils derived from seeds, Irvingia seeds are comparatively high in fatty acids.[15]

Irvingia Gabonensis is a moderately potent anti-oxidant ex vivo, with a FRAP of 283.91+/-3.12mg/g and total antioxidant capacity of 431.58+/-3.97mg/g (values expressed as catechin equivalents).[18] The polyphenolic content is approximately 2.6mg/100g, and is heat sensitive (0.2mg/100g after heating).[13]

1.3. Properties

IGOB131, an extract of Irvingia Gabonensis, appears to be stable in water for up to 24 hours at a pH range from 3-7 and to temperatures up to 82°C.[19] This extract is an off-white powder with a slightly nutty taste and odour and is partly soluble in water.[19]


2.1. Pain

The bark of the Irvingia Gabonensis tree (rather than the seeds, which are commonly used as fibrous supplements) appears to be traditionally used by the Mende tribe of Africa for pain relief.[20] The water extract appears to be somewhat effective in reducing pain induced by heat, a mechanism similar to morphine with both being blocked by naloxone, suggesting Irvingia Bark water-soluble extract works via opioid receptors.[20] The ethanolic extract was less effective at heat-induced pain relief but effective in alleviating pressure-induced pain, and was not mediated via opioid receptors.[20]

3Cardiovascular Health

3.1. Triglycerides and Lipoproteins

Two human studies have been conducted regarding triglycerides, and while one using 150mg of Irvingia Gabonensis extract before two meals detailed measurements in the methods section there was no mention of triglycerides in the results.[21] The other study noted reductions of triglycerides by 44.9% following 3.15g Irvinga seed extract divided into three daily doses.[22]

Decreases in total cholesterol have been noted to be 26.2% over 10 weeks following 150mg twice-daily Irvingia extract[21] and after a month of 3.15g Irvingia seed to be 39.21%.[22]

LDL reductions have been noted to be 27.3% after twice-daily consumption of Irvingia at 150mg[21] or thrice daily consumption of 1.05g (3.15g total) which resulted in a decrease of 45.52%.[22] HDL-C was only recorded in the latter study, which was noted to be increased by 46.852%.[22]

Currently, both studies have the diet uncontrolled and weight loss may inflate the improvements seen with Irvingia Gabonensis treatment.

4Interactions with Glucose Metabolism

4.1. Blood Glucose

One study conducted with 150mg Irvingia Extract taken before lunch and dinner noted that blood glucose, after 10 weeks of supplementation, decreased 22.5% while in placebo they decreased 5.3%;[21] 3.15g daily for one month is associated with a 32.36% decrease in blood glucose.[22]

5Fat Mass and Obesity

5.1. Mechanisms

In an in vitro assay using 3T3-L1 adipocytes cultured with Irvingia Gabonensis (IGOB131 extract) noted a reduced uptake of triglycerides which reached 80.9+/-0.7% at 250uM as well as suppression of pro-differentiation proteins such as PPARγ, which reduced relative expression to 60% after 12 hours of 50uM treatment and down to 20% after 100-250uM treatment for 24 hours.[23] This study also noted a suppression of leptin synthesis and upregulation of adiponectin synthesis in a dose and time-dependent manner.[23]

Possible anti-obesity mechanisms (PPARγ suppression restricts fat cell proliferation and triglyceride uptake) but the observed effects were seen at a high concentration, and may not apply to oral ingestion of irvingia gabonensis

5.2. Interventions

Currently, one double-blind study using the seed extract of IGOB131 at 150mg taken 30 minutes before both lunch and dinner for 10 weeks appeared to be associated with a reduction in food intake to about 87.6% of control (a 389kcal deficit) which may have caused the observed decrease in fat mass and waist circumference; while placebo lost 2% fat mass (0.7kg), Irvingia lost 6.3% (which was 12.8kg total weight loss; Fat Mass plus Lean Mass).[21] This study was funded by Gateway Health Alliances, which are not producers of Irvingia Gabonensis.[21] Possibly secondary to weight loss, improvements were also seen lipoproteins (LDL-C, total cholesterol) and C-Reactive protein, as well as adipokines such as adiponectin and leptin; all changes which may occur during the process of weight loss.[21]

A follow-up study was conducted with Cissus quadrangularis in addition to Irvingia, recieving product from the same source as the aforementioned study and many of the same authors, and noted that although Cissus Quadrangularis was effective itself in reducing weight (8.82% reduction) adding 150mg of Irvingia extract increased weight loss to 11.86%.[1] The Cissus and combination groups lost 14.63% and 20.06% of their total body fat over 10 weeks, respectively. Food intake was not measured in this study, and the claim of synergism between the ingredients is currently unfounded.[1]

One study simply used nonpatented seed extract (1.05g thrice a day for a month) and although placebo also lost weight, the Irvingia group lost significantly more weight (5.26+/-2.37% relative to 1.32+/-0.41%).[22] This study noted a decrease in weight and waist circumference, but the reduction in body fat was not statistically significant; although participants were asked to follow a low-fat diet, the caloric intake via food records was not reported on.[22]

Due to the limited evidence, the only systemic review at this time has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to recommend irvingia gabonensis as a fat loss aid in part due to flaws in reporting of the methodology.[24]

Currently, the limited evidence investigating irvingia gabonensis for fat loss is either confounded (by the addition of Cissus quadrangularis or by possible competing interests) or of low metholodigical quality; the role of this supplement as a fat loss agent is currently unsupported

6Interactions with Organ Systems

6.1. Intestines

At least in rodents, ingestion of Irvingia Gabonensis at doses between 100-400mg/kg results in a slowing of gastric and intestinal motility that did not appear to be dose dependent (37.45-40.12% slower transit speed) and appeared to protect mice from castor oil-induced diarrhea.[25] An increase in intestinal liquid was also seen, possibly secondary to soluble fibers in Irvinga Gabonensis (and fecal-forming properties)[25] which also occur ex vivo in any liquid.[7]

The properties of Irvingia Gabonensis seeds to act as an emulsifier and add viscosity to liquids may also act in the body, and this soluble fiber-like property may precede various effects of Irvingia such as satiety and digestion

6.2. Kidneys

Irvingia Gaborensis ethanolic extract has been associated with diuresis (inducing urination) in rats at the doses of 50-100mg/kg bodyweight, although it appeared to be delayed taking up to 12 hours to be any different than control; 50mg/kg was slightly more effective.[26] The profile of electrolytes lost in the urine (HCO3- and Cl-) appear to be similar to the drug Acetazolamide, used as a positive control.[26]

7Safety and Toxicology

7.1. General

The IGOB131 extract of Irvingia Gabonensis given a once daily dose of 100, 1000, or 2500mg/kg bodyweight for the course of 90 days in otherwise healthy rats aged 6-7 weeks, and no abnormalities were noted in body weight or food intake (although at some random time points food intake was significantly decreased with no noticeable trends between doses or time) and no clinically significant side-effects in blood parameters (as those that were statistically significant were small in magnitude and random amongst groups, time, and dose).[19] No abnormalities were noted in organ weight deemed clinically significance, no pathological changes during biopsy, and in vitro cytotoxicity and mutagenicity tested suggested no significant abnormalities at the concentrations tested.[19]

Insufficient evidence to draw conclusions, but at this moment in time there do not appear to be any significant side-effects associated with irvingia gabonensis

Scientific Support & Reference Citations


  1. Lamorde M, et al Medicinal plants used by traditional medicine practitioners for the treatment of HIV/AIDS and related conditions in Uganda . J Ethnopharmacol. (2010)
  2. Composition, sensory quality and respiration during ripening and storage of edible wild mango (Irvingia gabonensis)
  3. Kuete V, et al Antimicrobial activity of the methanolic extract, fractions and compounds from the stem bark of Irvingia gabonensis (Ixonanthaceae) . J Ethnopharmacol. (2007)
  4. Calcium, zinc and phytate interrelationships in some foods of major consumption in Nigeria
  5. Akubor PI The suitability of African bush mango juice for wine production . Plant Foods Hum Nutr. (1996)
  6. Ndjouenkeu R, Akingbala JO, Oguntimein GB Emulsifying properties of three African food hydrocolloids: okra (Hibiscus esculentus), dika nut (Irvingia gabonensis), and khan (Belschmiedia sp.) . Plant Foods Hum Nutr. (1997)
  7. Odeku OA, Patani BO Evaluation of dika nut mucilage (Irvingia gabonensis) as binding agent in metronidazole tablet formulations . Pharm Dev Technol. (2005)
  8. Isimi CY, Kunle OO, Bangudu AB Some emulsifying and suspending properties of the mucilage extracted from kernels of Irvingia gabonensis . Boll Chim Farm. (2000)
  9. Use of dika fat in the formulation of sustained release theophylline tablets and capsules
  10. Tairu AO, Hofmann T, Schieberle P Studies on the key odorants formed by roasting of wild mango seeds (Irvingia gabonensis) . J Agric Food Chem. (2000)
  11. Sun J, Chen P Ultra high-performance liquid chromatography with high-resolution mass spectrometry analysis of African mango (Irvingia gabonensis) seeds, extract, and related dietary supplements . J Agric Food Chem. (2012)
  12. Chemical composition and functional properties of raw, heat-treated and partially proteolysed wild mango (Irvingia gabonensis) seed flour
  13. Lesser known oilseeds I. chemical composition
  14. Zoué LT, et al Characterisation of a highly saturated Irvingia gabonensis seed kernel oil with unusual linolenic acid content . Food Sci Technol Int. (2013)
  15. The component acids and glycerides of dika fat
  16. Oboh G, Ekperigin MM Nutritional evaluation of some Nigerian wild seeds . Nahrung. (2004)
  17. Agbor GA, et al Antioxidant capacity of some herbs/spices from cameroon: a comparative study of two methods . J Agric Food Chem. (2005)
  18. Kothari SC, et al Subchronic toxicity and mutagenicity/genotoxicity studies of Irvingia gabonensis extract (IGOB131) . Food Chem Toxicol. (2012)
  19. Okolo CO, et al Analgesic effect of Irvingia gabonensis stem bark extract . J Ethnopharmacol. (1995)
  20. Ngondi JL, et al 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 . Lipids Health Dis. (2009)
  21. Ngondi JL, Oben JE, Minka SR The effect of Irvingia gabonensis seeds on body weight and blood lipids of obese subjects in Cameroon . Lipids Health Dis. (2005)
  22. Oben JE, Ngondi JL, Blum K Inhibition of Irvingia gabonensis seed extract (OB131) on adipogenesis as mediated via down regulation of the PPARgamma and leptin genes and up-regulation of the adiponectin gene . Lipids Health Dis. (2008)
  23. Oben JE, et al The use of a Cissus quadrangularis/Irvingia gabonensis combination in the management of weight loss: a double-blind placebo-controlled study . Lipids Health Dis. (2008)
  24. Onakpoya I, et al The efficacy of irvingia gabonensis supplementation in the management of overweight and obesity: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials . J Diet Suppl. (2013)
  25. Abdulrahman F, et al Effect of aqueous leaf extract of Irvingia gabonensis on gastrointestinal tract in rodents . Indian J Exp Biol. (2004)
  26. Leaf Extracts Of Irvingia Gabonensis Increase Urine Output And Electrolytes In Rats