Soursop is the fruit of Annona muricata, abroadleaf, flowering, evergreen tree native to Mexico, Cuba, Central America,the Caribbean, and northern South America, primarily Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador,and Venezuela. Soursop is also produced in Somalia. Today, it is also grown insome areas of Southeast Asia, as well as in some Pacific islands. It was mostlikely brought from Mexico to the Philippines by way of the Manila-AcapulcoGalleon trade. It is in the same genus as the chirimoya and the same family asthe pawpaw.
Soursop, raw, edible parts
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
- Energy 276 kJ (66 kcal)
- Carbohydrates 16.84 g
- Sugars 13.54 g
- Dietary fiber 3.3 g
- Fat 0.30 g
- Protein 1.00 g
- Vitamin A equiv. 0 μg (0%)
- Thiamine (vit. B1) 0.070 mg (6%)
- Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.050 mg (4%)
- Niacin (vit. B3) 0.900 mg (6%)
- Vitamin B6 0.059 mg (5%)
- Folate (vit. B9) 14 μg (4%)
- Vitamin C 20.6 mg (25%)
- Calcium 14 mg (1%)
- Iron 0.6 mg (5%)
- Magnesium 21 mg (6%)
- Phosphorus 27 mg (4%)
- Potassium 278 mg (6%)
- Zinc 0.1 mg (1%)
Percentages are relative to
US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
The soursop is adapted to areas of high humidityand relatively warm winters; temperatures below 5 °C (41 °F) will causedamage to leaves and small branches, and temperatures below 3 °C (37 °F)can be fatal. The fruit becomes dry and is no longer good for concentrate.
Other common names include: Evo (Ewe, VoltaRegion, Ghana), Aluguntugui (Ga, Greater Accra Region, Ghana) guanábana(Spanish), graviola (Brazilian Portuguese, pronounced: [gɾɐviˈɔlɐ]), anona (European Portuguese), corossol(French),කටු අනෝදා (Sinhalese), sorsaka(Papiamento), adunu (Acholi), Brazilian pawpaw, guyabano, guanavana,toge-banreisi, durian benggala, durian belanda, nangkablanda, thu-rian khack (Thai), sirsak, zuurzak (Dutch)and nangka londa. In Malayalam, it is called mullaatha, literallythorny custard apple. The other lesser-known Indian names are shul-ram-faland Lakshmana Phala. and in Harar (Ethiopia) in Harari language knownfor centuries as Amba Shoukh (Thorny Mango or Thorny Fruit).
The flavour has been described as a combination of strawberryand pineapple, with sour citrus flavour notes contrasting with an underlyingcreamy flavour reminiscent of coconut or banana.
Cultivationand usesThe plant is grown as a commercial herb crop forits 20–30 cm (7.9–12 in) long, prickly, green fruit, which can have amass of up to 15 lb (6.8 kg), making it probably the second biggestannona after the junglesop.
Away from its native area, some limited productionoccurs as far north as southern Florida within USDA Zone 10; however, these aremostly garden plantings for local consumption. It is also grown in parts of SoutheastAsia and abundant on the Island of Mauritius. The soursop will reportedly fruitas a container specimen, even in temperate climates, if protected from cooltemperatures.
The flesh of the fruit consists of an edible, whitepulp, some fiber, and a core of indigestible, black seeds. The species is theonly member of its genus suitable for processing and preservation. The sweetpulp is used to make juice, as well as candies, sorbets, and ice creamflavorings.
In Mexico, Colombia and Harar (Ethiopia), it is acommon fruit, often used for dessert as the only ingredient, or as an aguafresca beverage; in Colombia, it is a fruit for juices, mixed with milk.Ice cream and fruit bars made of soursop are also very popular. The seeds arenormally left in the preparation, and removed while consuming, unless a blenderis used for processing.
In Indonesia, dodol sirsak, a sweetmeat, ismade by boiling soursop pulp in water and adding sugar until the mixturehardens. Soursop is also a common ingredient for making fresh fruit juices thatare sold by street food vendors. In the Philippines, it is called guyabano,obviously derived from the Spanish guanabana, and is eaten ripe, or usedto make juices, smoothies, or ice cream. Sometimes, they use the leaf intenderizing meat. In Vietnam, this fruit is called mãng cầu Xiêm in thesouth, or mãng cầu in the north, and is used to make smoothies, or eatenas is. In Cambodia, this fruit is called tearb barung, literally"western custard-apple fruit." In Malaysia, it is known in Malay as durianbelanda and in East Malaysia, specifically among the Dusun people of Sabah,it is locally known as lampun. Popularly, it is eaten raw when itripens, or used as one of the ingredients in Ais Kacang or Ais BatuCampur. Usually the fruits are taken from the tree when they mature andleft to ripen in a dark corner, whereby they will be eaten when they are fullyripe. It has a white flower with a very pleasing scent, especially in themorning. While for people in Brunei Darussalam this fruit is popularly known as"Durian Salat", widely available and easily planted.
HealthThe fruit contains significant amounts of vitamin C,vitamin B1 and vitamin B2.
Preliminary in vitro laboratory researchsuggests that Graviola may have potential to treat some infections. “Inmany countries, people use the bark, leaves, root, and fruit of this treefor traditional remedies. The active ingredient is thought to be a typeof plant compound (phytochemical) called annonaceous acetogenins.
“People in African and South American countries have used graviola to treatinfections with viruses or parasites, rheumatism, arthritis, depression, andsickness. We know from research that some graviola extracts can help totreat these conditions. The antimicrobial properties of Soursop can also killbeneficial bacteria on the skin, in the vagina and gut, which can lead toinfections in long term use.
Possible Adverse Effects ofGraviolaResearch carried out in theCaribbean has suggested a connection between consumption of soursop andatypical forms of Parkinson's disease which is due to the very highconcentration of annonacin. Graviola also has few other side effects likelowering the blood pressure, so it should not be taken by people with lowblood pressure or heart complications.
All parts of the graviola tree are used in natural medicine in the tropics,including the bark, leaves, roots, fruit, and fruit seeds. Different propertiesand uses are attributed to the different parts of the tree. Generally, thefruit and fruit juice are taken for worms and parasites, to cool fevers, toincrease mother's milk after childbirth, and as an astringent for diarrhea anddysentery. The crushed seeds are used against internal and external parasites,head lice, and worms. The bark, leaves, and roots are considered sedative,antispasmodic, hypotensive, and nervine, and a tea is made for variousdisorders toward those effects.
Graviola has a long, rich history of use in herbal medicine as well as alengthy recorded indigenous use. In the Peruvian Andes, a leaf tea is used forcatarrh (inflammation of mucous membranes) and the crushed seed is used to killparasites. In the Peruvian Amazon the bark, roots, and leaves are used fordiabetes and as a sedative and antispasmodic. Indigenous tribes in Guyana use aleaf and/or bark tea as a sedative and heart tonic. In the Brazilian Amazon aleaf tea is used for liver problems, and the oil of the leaves and unripe fruitis mixed with olive oil and used externally for neuralgia, rheumatism, andarthritis pain. In Jamaica, Haiti, and the West Indies the fruit and/or fruitjuice is used for fevers, parasites and diarrhea; the bark or leaf is used asan antispasmodic, sedative, and nervine for heart conditions, coughs, flu,difficult childbirth, asthma, hypertension, and parasites.
Many active compounds and chemicals have been found in graviola, as scientistshave been studying its properties since the 1940s. Most of the research ongraviola focuses on a novel set of chemicals called Annonaceous acetogenins.Graviola produces these natural compounds in its leaf and stem, bark, and fruitseeds. Three separate research groups have confirmed that these chemicals havesignificant antitumorous properties and selective toxicity against varioustypes of cancer cells (without harming healthy cells) publishing eight clinicalstudies on their findings. Many of the acetogenins have demonstrated selectivetoxicity to tumor cells at very low dosages—as little as 1 part per million.Four studies were published in 1998 which further specify the chemicals andacetogenins in graviola which are demonstrating the strongest anticancerous,antitumorous, and antiviral properties. In a 1997 clinical study, novelalkaloids found in graviola fruit exhibited antidepressive effects in animals.
Annonaceous acetogenins are onlyfound in the Annonaceae family (to which graviola belongs). These chemicals ingeneral have been documented with antitumorous, antiparasitic, insecticidal,and antimicrobial activities. Mode of action studies in three separatelaboratories have recently determined that these acetogenins are superbinhibitors of enzyme processes that are only found in the membranes ofcancerous tumor cells. This is why they are toxic to cancer cells but have notoxicity to healthy cells.Purdue University, in WestLafayette, Indiana, has conducted a great deal of the research on theacetogenins, much of which, has been funded by The National Cancer Instituteand/or the National Institute of Health (NIH). Thus far, Purdue Universityand/or its staff have filed at least nine U.S. and/or international patents ontheir work around the antitumorous and insecticidal properties and uses ofthese acetogenins.
In 1997, Purdue University published information with promising news thatseveral of the Annonaceous acetogenins were " . . . not only are effectivein killing tumors that have proven resistant to anti-cancer agents, but alsoseem to have a special affinity for such resistant cells." In severalinterviews after this information was publicized, the head pharmacologist inPurdue's research explained how this worked. As he explains it, cancer cellsthat survive chemotherapy can develop resistance to the agent originally usedas well as to other, even unrelated, drugs. This phenomenon is called multi-drugresistance (MDR). One of the main ways that cancer cells develop resistance tochemotherapy drugs is by creating an intercellular pump which is capable ofpushing anticancer agents out of the cell before they can kill it. On average, only about twopercent of the cancer cells in any given person might develop this pump—butthey are the two percent that can eventually grow and expand to createmulti-drug-resistant tumors. Some of the latest research on acetogeninsreported that they were capable of shutting down these intercellular pumps,thereby killing multi-drug-resistant tumors. Purdue researchers reported thatthe acetogenins preferentially killed multi-drug-resistant cancer cells byblocking the transfer of ATP—the chief source of cellular energy—into them. Atumor cell needs energy to grow and reproduce, and a great deal more to run itspump and expel attacking agents. By inhibiting energy to the cell , it can nolonger run its pump. When acetogenins block ATP to the tumor cell over time, thecell no longer has enough energy to operate sustaining processes—and it dies.Normal cells seldom develop such a pump; therefore, they don't require largeamounts of energy to run a pump and, generally, are not adversely affected byATP inhibitors. Purdue researchers reported that 14 different acetogeninstested thus far demonstrate potent ATP-blocking properties (including severalfound only in graviola). They also reported that 13 of these 14 acetogeninstested were more potent against MDR breast cancer cells than all three of thestandard drugs (adriamycin, vincristine, and vinblastine) they used ascontrols.
The Annonaceous acetogenins discovered in graviola thus far include:annocatalin, annohexocin, annomonicin, annomontacin, annomuricatin A & B, annomuricinA thru E, annomutacin, annonacin, annonacinone, annopentocin A thru C,cis-annonacin, cis-corossolone, cohibin A thru D, corepoxylone, coronin,corossolin, corossolone, donhexocin, epomuricenin A & B, gigantetrocin,gigantetrocin A & B, gigantetrocinone, gigantetronenin, goniothalamicin,iso-annonacin, javoricin, montanacin, montecristin, muracin A thru G,muricapentocin, muricatalicin, muricatalin, muri-catenol, muricatetrocin A& B muricatin D, muricatocin A thru C muricin H, muricin I, muricoreacin,murihexocin 3, murihexocin A thru C, murihexol, murisolin, robustocin,rolliniastatin 1 & 2, saba-delin, solamin, uvariamicin I & IV,xylomaticin
Biological Activites and Clinical Research
In an 1976 plant screening program by the National Cancer Institute, graviolaleaves and stem showed active toxicity against cancer cells and researchershave been following up on these findings since. Thus far, specific acetogeninsin graviola and/or extracts of graviola have been reported to be selectively toxicin vitro to these types of tumor cells: lung carcinoma cell lines; human breastsolid tumor lines; prostate adenocarcinoma; pancreatic carcinoma cell lines;colon adenocarcinoma cell lines; liver cancer cell lines; human lymphoma celllines; and multi-drug resistant human breast adenocarcinoma.Researchers in Taiwan reported in2003 that the main graviola acetogenin, annonacin, was highly toxic to ovarian,cervical, breast, bladder and skin cancer cell lines at very low dosagessaying; “. . . annonacin is a promising anti-cancer agent and worthy of furtheranimal studies and, we would hope, clinical trials.”
An interesting in vivo study was published in March of 2002 by researchers inJapan, who were studying various acetogenins found in several species ofplants. They inoculated mice with lung cancer cells. One third received nothing(the control group), one third received the chemotherapy drug adriamycin, andone third received the main graviola acetogenin, annonacin (at a dosage of 10mg/kg). At the end of two weeks, five of the six in the untreated control groupwere still alive and lung tumor sizes were then measured. The adriamycin groupshowed a 54.6% reduction of tumor mass over the control group—but 50% of theanimals had died from toxicity (three of six). The mice receiving annonacin wereall still alive, and the tumors were inhibited by 57.9%—slightly better thanadriamycin—and without toxicity. This led the researchers to summarize; “Thissuggested that annonacin was less toxic in mice. On considering the antitumoractivity and toxicity, annonacin might be used as a lead to develop a potentialanticancer agent.”
Current Practical Uses and Cancer research
Cancer research is ongoing on these important Annona plants and plantchemicals, as several pharmaceutical companies and universities continue toresearch, test, patent, and attempt to synthesize these chemicals into newchemotherapeutic drugs.In fact, graviola seems to befollowing the same path as another well known cancer drug – Taxol. From thetime researchers first discovered an antitumorous effect in the bark of thepacific yew tree and a novel chemical called taxol was discovered in its bark -it took thirty years of research by numerous pharmaceutical companies,universities, and government agencies before the first FDA-approved Taxol drugwas sold to a cancer patient (which was based on the natural taxol chemicalthey found in the tree bark). With graviola, it has takenresearchers almost 10 years to successfully synthesize (chemically reproduce)the main antitumorous chemical, annonacin. These acetogenin chemicals have aunique waxy center and other unique molecular energy properties which thwartedearlier attempts, and at least one major pharmaceutical company gave up in theprocess (despite knowing how active the natural chemical was against tumors).Now that scientists have the ability to recreate this chemical and severalother active acetogenins in the laboratory, the next step is to change thechemical just enough (without losing any of the antitumorous actions in theprocess) to become a novel chemical which can be patented and turned into a newpatented cancer drug. (Naturally-occurring plant chemicals cannot be patented.)Thus far, scientists seem to be thwarted again—every time they change the chemicalenough to be patentable, they lose much of the antitumorous actions. Like thedevelopment of taxol, it may well take government agenies like the NationalCancer Institute and the National Institute of Health to step forward andlaunch full-scale human cancer research on the synthesized unpatentable naturalplant chemical (which will allow any pharmaceutical company to develop a cancerdrug utilizing the research as happened with taxol) to be able to make thispromising therapy available to cancer patients in a timely fashion.
In the meantime, many cancer patients and health practitioners are not waiting…they are adding the natural leaf and stem of graviola (with over 40 documentednaturally-occurring acetogenins including annonacin) as a complementary therapyto their cancer protocols. After all, graviola has a long history of safe useas a herbal remedy for other conditions for many years, and research indicatesthat the antitumorous acetogenins are selectively toxic to just cancer cellsand not healthy cells—and in miniscule amounts. While research confirms thatthese antitumorous acetogenins also occur in high amounts in the fruit seedsand roots of graviola, different alkaloid chemicals in the seeds and roots haveshown some preliminary in vitro neurotoxic effects. Researchers have suggestedthat these alkaloids might be linked to atypical Parkinson’s disease incountries where the seeds are employed as a common herbal parasite remedy.Therefore, using the seeds and root of graviola is not recommended at thistime.
The therapuetic dosage of graviola leaf, (which offers just as high of anamount of acetogenins as the root and almost as much as the seed) is reportedto be 2-3 grams taken 3 or 4 times daily. Graviola products (capsules andtinctures) are becoming more widely available in the U.S. market, and nowoffered under several different manufacturer’s labels in health food stores. Asone of graviola’s mechanisms of action is to deplete ATP energy to cancercells, combining it with other supplements and natural products which increaseor enhance cellular ATP may reduce the effect of graviola. The main supplement whichincreases ATP is a common antioxidant called Coenzyme Q10 and for this reason,it should be avoided when taking graviola.
Graviola is certainly a promising natural remedy and one that again emphasizesthe importance of preserving our remaining rainforest ecosystems. Perhaps—ifenough people believe that the possible cure for cancer truly is locked away ina rainforest plant—we will take the steps needed to protect our remainingrainforests from destruction. One researcher studying graviola summarized thisidea eloquently: “At the time of preparation of this current review, over 350Annonaceous acetogenins have been isolated from 37 species. Our preliminaryefforts show that about 50%, of over 80 Annonaceous species screened, aresignificantly bioactive and are worthy of fractionation; thus, this class ofcompounds can be expected to continue to grow at an exponential rate in the future,provided that financial support for such research efforts can be found. Withthe demise of the world’s tropical rain forests, such work is compelling beforethe great chemical diversity, contained within these endangered species, islost.”According to Cancer Research UK, "there is noevidence to show that graviola works as a cure for cancer" andconsequently they do not support its use as a treatment for cancer. A courtcase relating to the sale in the UK of Triamazon, a graviola product, resultedin convictions on four counts related to selling an unlicensed medical product.
The judge said that the drug had not been tested onhuman beings, was not licenced for use in UK markets and could cause symptomssimilar to Parkinson’s Disease.
Here’s a short article posted on the CancerResearch UK’s website on the use of soursop to help cure cancer:
“Graviola (soursop) is something that comes from a tree in the rain forests ofAfrica, South America, and Southeast Asia. Its scientific name is Annonamuricata. It is also known as cherimoya, guanabana and soursop.
“In many countries, people use the bark, leaves, root, and fruit of this tree for traditional remedies. The active ingredient is thoughtto be a type of plant compound (phytochemical) called annonaceous acetogenins.
“People in African and South American countries have used graviola to treatinfections with viruses or parasites, rheumatism, arthritis, depression, andsickness. We know from research that some graviola extracts can help totreat these conditions.
“In laboratory studies, graviola extracts can kill some types of liver andbreast cancer cells that are resistant to particular chemotherapy drugs.
But there haven’t been any large scale studies in humans. So we don’t know yetwhether it can work as a cancer treatment or not.
“Overall, there is no evidence to show that graviola works as a cure forcancer. Many sites on the internet advertise and promote graviola capsules as acancer cure, but none of them are supported by any reputable scientific cancerorganisations.
“We know a little about how graviola affects the body. We do know, for example,that it can cause nerve changes, bringing on symptoms similar to Parkinson’s.So it may have harmful side effects for some people.
“We do not support the use of graviola to treat cancer. Our advice is tobe very cautious about believing information or paying for any type ofalternative cancer therapy on the internet. You may find it useful toread our section on searching for information on the internet.
“Whatever you read and have been recommended by well-meaning family members andfriends, do a quick check, especially on reliable sites. Get to know the fullpicture before you think the majority should be right”.
The Federal Trade Commission in the United Statesdetermined that there was "no credible scientific evidence" that theextract of soursop sold by Bioque Technologies "can prevent, cure, ortreat cancer of any kind."
Annonacinis a neurotoxin found in soursop seeds
The compound annonacin contained in the seeds ofsoursop is a neurotoxin and it seems to be the cause of a neurodegenerativedisease. The only group of people known to be affected live on the Caribbeanisland of Guadeloupe and the problem presumably occurs with the excessiveconsumption of plants containing annonacin. The disorder is a so-called tauopathyassociated with a pathologic accumulation of tau protein in the brain.Experimental results demonstrated for the first time that the plant neurotoxinannonacin is responsible for this accumulation.
“From my research, Graviola substances can helpwith cancer in the beginning stages by promoting the process of apoptosis.They work because they reduce the production of ATP which results, so thetheory goes, in the death of fast growing cells that require a lot ofATP - preferably cancer cells. However, the alternative theory ofcancer, that it is a protection mechanism for cells that are under certainstresses, holds that this apoptosis period is relatively short and that thecancer cells have their own ways of overcoming it. Apoptosis requiresthat the mitochondrial membranes remain permeable to Calcium ions. In cancercells, these membranes get locked very quickly, especially after the cancerhas metastasized. Oleander and NAC, unlike paw-paw, Graviola, etc, act tonormalize the levels of glutathione in the body. This, in turn, unlocks themitochondrial membranes and reverts the mitochondria to normalcy. The assumptionis, of course, that the stresses which caused the problems in the first place,are also addressed. Thus the reason for the protocols.
Therefore, the message saying thatGraviola, i.e Soursop is 10,000 times more effective cancer killer than chemois a hoax. However, you can find thousands of websites online selling it as amiracle fruit. We advise people not to believe them blindly, but consult adoctor or oncologist before using it.
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