Soursop is a prickly fruit comes from the Graviola tree, an evergreen native to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. It’s also known as custard apple, guanabana, paw paw, Annona cherimola, Annona macrocarpa, Annona muricata, Cherimoya, Corossol, Corossol Épineux, Corossolier, Durian Benggala, Guanabana, Guanavana, Nangka Blanda, Nangka Londa, Soursop, Sour Sop, Toge-Banreisi. Does it’s benefits outweigh it’s risks? You decide:
We’ll start 1st with it’s benefits:
Parasite Control: The anti-parasitic nature of soursop has made it a popular treatment in many of the rural areas of Latin America and South America, particularly in areas where parasitic infections are more common. By brewing a tea from the leaves of the fruit, you can cleanse your gut and ensure that your gastrointestinal system is running smoothly.
Anti-inflammatory Properties: If you are suffering from joint pain or inflammation, particularly from conditions like gout or arthritis, then rubbing a decoction of soursop on the affected area can be a wonderful way to find some relief. The anti-inflammatory compounds found in soursop can quickly speed healing in affected areas, while also soothing pain and improving flexibility.
Respiratory Distress: If you are struggling with a cough, cold, or other form of respiratory ailment, then soursop’s anti-inflammatory properties can help to clear out your airways, relieve congestion, and soothe irritation. Acting partially as an expectorant, soursop is a reliable way to eliminate phlegm and mucus, where many pathogens can live. By reducing inflammation of the nasal cavities and respiratory tracts, it can also speed healing.
Sedation and Stress: Soursop tea has been used as a stress relieving strategy for centuries. There are certain anti-inflammatory and soothing properties of soursop that make it very effective if you are suffering from excess stress and anxiety. Stress hormones in the body can be detrimental, and can mess with your natural metabolic cycles, as well as your sleep schedule. If you’re suffering from insomnia or restless sleep, soursop tea is a wise choice.
Skin Health: You can pulverize the seeds of the soursop fruit into a powder, which can then be formulated into a skin astringent, helping you to reduce lines and wrinkles, and improve the appearance of age spots and blemishes. Topically apply this paste to the affected areas regularly and enjoy healthier skin, while also protecting yourself from bacterial and microbial infections.
Cancer Prevention: Some of the most interesting benefits of soursop relate to its antioxidant activity, which namely comes from acetogenins, as well as quinolones and alkaloids. These have been directly linked to cancer prevention and the reduction in size of tumors. Extensive research has been done on the unique organic compounds of soursop and it has been widely studied as an alternative cancer treatment. These acetogenins are actually unique to the Annonaceae plant family, which is what makes them so fascinating. They can apparently cut off blood flow to foreign or non-normal cellular growths, and have already been positively associated with treating breast, pancreatic, prostate, and lung cancers.
Research shows that bioactive components of graviola leaf extracts may have a positive cancer-fighting effect due to the free radical scavenging abilities and antioxidant enzymes it contains, thus helping eliminate cancer cells. It’s believed that the graviola leaves kill cancer cells by blocking ATP production. ATP, aka adenosine triphosphate, is a usable form of energy for cells. Graviola leaf extract can help block this activity, which may cause apoptosis (programmed cell death). Scientists in Mexico discovered acetogenins in the soursop fruit hold chemotherapeutic properties.
A study conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center found that the extract can greatly reduce pancreatic cancer. Because cancer cells have more glucose, cell growth is typically enhanced as well as tumor growth. However, in this study, cells that were treated with graviola extract decreased their glucose uptake when compared to untreated cells. This decrease can make it difficult for the bad cells to live and multiply, which is a good thing.
Immune System Booster: Protecting the immune system is one of the most important components of a healthy diet and fitness regimen. Adding a bit of soursop fruit to your diet, either through refreshing beverages or desserts, can positively impact your overall health and keep those illnesses at bay. Rich in vitamin C, this fruit stimulates the production of white blood cells, while the concentration of antioxidants helps to neutralize free radicals and prevent chronic disease.
Gastrointestinal Health: Being rich in vitamin C, soursop was used for many years as a natural remedy for scurvy and dysentery. The juice of the soursop fruit can also be a very effective diuretic, to cleanse the gastrointestinal tract and remove excess toxins and salts from the body. The anti-inflammatory components, including the alkaloids and quinolones, can reduce parasites in the gut and alleviate any pain and irritation in the stomach/colon.
Analgesic Properties: In terms of pain relief, soursop has been topically applied to wounds and injuries for generations, but also works internally to relieve pain and speed healing. The sedative and anti-inflammatory aspects of this impressive tropical fruit make it an ideal solution for all types of body pain, both inside and out.
CHART: Pharmacological activities of A. muricata extracts evaluated in vivo:
|Activity||Plant part||Solvent||Dose||Test model and results||References|
|Hypoglycemic||Leaf||H2O||100 mg/kg p.o. by 25 days||Reduction of blood glucose (4.7 mmol/l) in diabetes mellitus rats||Adewole and Caxton-Martins (2006)|
|H2O||100 mg/kg p.o. by 25 days||Increase of serum insulin glucose (12.2 μU/ml) in diabetes mellitus rats|
|MeOH||100 mg/kg, daily for two weeks||Reduction of blood glucose (4.22 mmol/l) in diabetes mellitus rats||Adeyemi et al. (2009)|
|H2O||100 mg/kg, daily for 28 days||Reduction of blood glucose (80.75 mg/dl) in diabetes mellitus rats||Florence et al. (2014)|
|Stem bark||EtOH||100 mg/kg, daily for 14 days||Reduction of blood glucose (187 mg/dl) in diabetes mellitus rats||Ahalya et al. (2014)|
|Anti-cancer||Leaf||EtOH||100 mg/kg/4 wk||Restoration of colon total protein in cycas-induced colorectal carcinogenesis in rats||Okolie et al. (2013)|
|Leaf||EtOAc||500 mg/kg/8 wk||72.5% of ACF inhibition in AOM induced colorectal carcinogenesis in rats||Moghadamtousi et al. (2015c)|
|Anti-tumorigenic||Dried fruit||H2O:Cet 50%||200 mg/kg/35 wk||32% growth inhibition (weight) of breast tumor induced by MDA-MB-468 cell in rats||Dai et al. (2011)|
|Leaf/ Stem||H2O||50 mg/kg/35 days||59.8% growth inhibition of pancreatic tumor induced by CD18/HPAF cell in rats||Torres et al. (2012)|
|Leaf||EtOH/H2O||30 mg/kg bwt||0% of incidence of initiation and promotion of tumors induced in mouse skin||Hamizah et al. (2012)|
|Anti-diarrhea||Leaf||MeOH||25 a 200 mg/kg, vo||13.94% of inhibition of activated charcoal transit in mouse||Salinas et al. (2011)|
|Gastroprotective||Leaf||EtOH 80%||300 mg/kg||92.8% of inhibition of total area of gastric lesion in rats||Roslida et al. (2012)|
|Leaf||EtOAc||400 mg/kg||Reduction of ulcer index in ethanol-induced ulcerogenesis in rats||Moghadamtousi et al. (2014)|
|Hepato-protective||Leaf||H2O||400 mg/kg twice daily for 7 days:||Reduction of bilirubin level (5.68 μmol/l) in rats hyperbilirubinemia induced||Arthur et al.(2012a)|
|Leaf||H2O||50 mg/kg||97% of protection versus hepatotoxicity induced in rats by CCl4||Arthur et al. (2012b)|
|Leaf||H2O||100 mg/kg||100% of protection versus hepatotoxicity induced in rats by acetaminophen|
|Anti-inflammatory||Leaf||H2O||1.5 mg/kg||71.12% reduction of plant edema induced in mouse model||Poma et al. (2011)|
|Leaf||EtOH||400 mg/kg||Reduction of volume (0.47 ml) of carrageenan-induced paw edema in rats||Sousa and Vieira (2010)|
|Anti-nociceptive||Leaf||EtOH 80%||10 mg/kg op||53.92% prolongation of reaction time of mice exposed to the hot plate||Roslida et al. (2012)|
|Leaf||EtOH 80%||300 mg/kg||95.3% inhibition of abdominal writhes of mice induced by 0.6% acetic acid|
|Leaf||EtOH 80%||100 mg/kg||47.36% of reduction time spent licking on formalin-induced in mice|
|Leaf||EtOH||400 mg/kg||41.41% inhibition of acetic acid-induced writhing in mice||Sousa and Vieira (2010)|
|Leaf||EtOH||400 mg/kg||Increase the latency time (13.25 min) in mice|
|Leaf||EtOH||400 mg/kg||45% inhibition of formalin-induced nociception in mice|
|Anxiolytic-like effect||Leaf||EtOH 40%||0.5 g/kg, vo:||45% reduction of time reaction in Albino mice/elevated plus maze||Oviedo et al. (2009)|
|Hypotensive||Leaf||H2O||48.53 mg/kg||Reduction of blood pressure (57.7 mm Hg) in rats||Nwokocha et al. (2012)|
|Wound healing||Stem bark||EtOH||4% in ointment/12 days||88.58% reduction of area of open wound produced in rats||Padmaa et al. (2009)|
|Leaf||EtOAc||10% in cream, two applications a day per 15 days||77% of wound closure in rats||Moghadamtousi et al. (2015b)|
NR, Not reported; EtOH, ethanol; H2O, water; MeOH, methanol; EtOAc, ethyl acetate; Cet, cetone; CCl4, carbon tetrachloride; wk, week; ACF, aberrant crypt foci; AOM, azoxymethane.
Soursop and Cinnamon Milkshake
1 ripe soursop
1/2 cup coconut water
½ cup almond milk
1 medium frozen banana
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
In a blender, place the soursop, coconut water and almond milk. Blend until smooth. Then add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
For a thicker shake, use less liquid ingredients. For a thinner shake, add more almond milk. Once you have the shake at your desired consistency, pour into a glass. Add a cinnamon stick for a nice touch.
Now for the risks & side-effects:
Soursop contains Annonacin. Annonacin is a neurotoxin. It can kill nerve cells in the brain and other parts of the body. It may cause movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease. It’s believed that it may be causing atypical parkinsonism in the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe where consumption of soursop and pawpaw is common. Studies indicate that consumption of annonacin cause brain lesions (consistent with Parkinson’s disease).
Consuming more than 5 g/kg of aqueous extract might cause kidney damage.
Annonacin is more toxic than the pesticide Rotenone,