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Presented by: UT El Paso / Austin Cooperative Pharmacy Program & Paso del Norte Health Foundation

Soursop


Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD.

Scientific Name:

Annona muricata

Botanical Family:

Annonaceae

Other Common Name:

Graviola, Custard apple, Paw paw, Corossolier

Common names in Spanish:

Guanábana, Guanábano, Anón

Where is it found?

Soursop is a fruit tree native to tropical America (probably the West Indies) but is also cultivated in other tropical and subtropical regions of the world, including India (Galtier and Exbrayat, 2009; Ayensu, 1994; Morton, 1979). In the United States, the tree is grown and its fruit marketed in Florida and other regions
The fruit (in spite of the common name “soursop”) is sweet, soft, and smooth. It provides various nutrients including vitamins C and B (including thiamin, riboflavin and niacin) as well as minerals: calcium, phosphorus, and iron (González-Stuart, 2014; Small, 2012; Duke, 1986; Morton, 1979).

Parts of the plant used:

Fruit, leaves, bark and root.

How is it used?

The fruit is consumed fresh or made into juices and smoothies. The leaves are taken as a tea. The seeds are crushed to make a poultice against head lice (see precautions below).

What is it used for?

In traditional herbal medicine, the fruit and leaves of the tree are used to relieve digestive ailments (including diarrhea), pain, hypertension, inflammation, fever, coughs, and asthma, among many other medical afflictions (Quattrocchi, 2012; Roth and Lindorf, 2002; Roig, 1991; Duke, 1993, 1986; Morton, 1981, 1979).

A tea made from the leaves has been reported to have a soothing and calming action, especially for insomnia and nervous disorders (Liogier, 1990; Morton, 1981), but should not be used in small children.
The seeds are toxic and are used to make a liquid hair wash to kill lice, but caution should be taken, as the liquid is very irritating to the eyes (Quattrocchi, 2012; Galtier and Exbrayat, 2009; Morton, 1981).

Soursop leaves and fruits contain natural compounds called acetogenins, which may be beneficial in the treatment of prostate as well as other cancers (Sun et al., 2014), although more controlled research is needed. Other diverse phytochemicals are also found in the plant including, annopentocins, annonacin, quinolones, coreximine and reticuline. These may have beneficial action acting in concert (Waizel-Bucay, 2012).

Many studies have shown that they possess antioxidant, anticancer, anticonvulsant, anti-arthritic, antiparasitic, antimalarial, liver protective and blood glucose lowering (antidiabetic) effects. These studies showed that annonaceous acetogenins are the major constituents of A. muricata, and more than 100 of these compounds have been isolated from the fruit, leaves, bark, seeds, and roots. Some of these compounds may have chemo-preventive (anticancer) potential (Moghadamtousi et al., 2015; González-Stuart, 2011).

Yang et al. (2015) showed that synergy (the combined actions of all the active ingredients or phytochemicals) contained in the leaves of soursop (flavonoids, isoquinoline alkaloids and annonaceous acetogenins, among others) were both superior as well as safer in in vitro experiments with prostate cancer xenografts.

Soursop extracts have a promising potential against gastric ulcers, which could be explained due to their free radical quenching effects against damage caused by oxidative stress, as well as their protective effect toward gastric wall mucus (Moghadamtousi et al., 2015).

A study showed that an ethanolic (alcohol-based) extract of soursop possessed antiviral activity in vitro against the Herpes simplex virus (Padma et al., 1998).

Another study showed that the extract made from the pericarp (rind) of the fruit showed antimicrobial activity against the protozoan parasite that causes the neglected tropical disease known as leishmaniasis (Jaramillo et al., 2000).

Safety / Precautions

  • The delicious fruit is safe to eat and nutritious, but the seeds are toxic and should not be consumed
  • Tea made from the leaves should be avoided during pregnancy
  • Do not take tea for long periods of time and avoid use in small children
  • Due to its blood glucose lowering effects, supplements containing soursop or graviola should be taken with caution by patients taking anti-diabetic medications.
  • Due to its blood pressure lowering effects, supplements containing soursop or graviola should be taken with caution by patients taking antihypertensive medications.

Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with a health care professional first. Avoid self-medication and self-diagnosis: Always be on the safe side!

References:

Ayensu E. Medicinal Plants of the West Indies.
Algonac, MI; Reference Publications; 1981.

Duke J. CRC Handbook of Alternative Cash Crops.
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1993; pp. 41-43.

Duke J. Isthmian Ethno botanical Dictionary.
Jodhpur, India: Scientific Publishers; 1986; pp. 10-12

Galtier M, Exbrayat A. Plantes Médicinales Vol. 1.
Paris: Exbrayat: pp. 18-19.

González-Stuart A. Eating Well with Fruits, Vegetables, Legumes, Grains, and Spices.
El Paso,TX: BPG printing; 2014; p. 62.

González-Stuart A. Potential Chemo-preventive Effects of Fruits, Vegetables, and Spices
Consumed in Mexico. Chapter 18. In: Watson R, Gerald J, Preedy V. (Editors). Nutrients,
Dietary Supplements, and Nutraceuticals. New York: Springer-Verlag/Humana; 2011; p. 296.

Jaramillo MC, Arango GJ, González MC, Robledo SM, Velez ID. Cytotoxicity and
antileishmanial activity of Annona muricata pericarp. Fitoterapia. 2000;71(2):183-6.

Liogier H. Plantas Medicinales de Puerto Rico y el Caribe.
San Juan, PR: Ediciones Iberoamericanas; 1990.

Moghadamtousi SZ, Fadaeinasab M, Nikzad S, Mohan G, Ali HM, Kadir HA.
Annona muricata (Annonaceae): A Review of Its Traditional Uses, Isolated Acetogenins and
Biological Activities. Int J Mol Sci. 201 ;16(7):15625-58. doi: 10.3390/ijms160715625.

Moghadamtousi SZ, Rouhollahi E, Karimian H, Fadaeinasab M, Abdulla MA, Kadir HA. Gastroprotective activity of Annona muricata leaves against ethanol-induced gastric injury in rats
via Hsp70/Bax involvement. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2014 ;8:2099-110.

Morton J. Atlas of Medicinal Plants of Middle America.
Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas; 1981; pp. 224-225.

Morton J. Fruits of Warm Climates.
Miami, FL: Florida Flair Books; 1979.

Padma P, Pramod NP, Thyagarajan SP, et al. Effect of the extract of Annona muricata and
Petunia nyctaginiflora on Herpes simplex virus. J Ethnopharmacol; 1998;61(1):81-83.

Quattrocchi, U. World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants (3 vols.).
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2012; p. 310.

Roig J. Plantas Medicinales, Aromáticas o Venenosas de Cuba Vol. 1.
La Habana, Cuba: Editorial Científico-Técnica; 1991; pp. 162-163.

Roth I, Lindorf H. South American Medicinal Plants.
Berlin: Springer-Verlag; 2002; pp. 99-100

Small E. Top 100 Exotic Food Plants.
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2012; pp. 499-503.

Sun S, Liu J, Kadouh H, Sun X, Zhou K. Three new anti-proliferative Annonaceous acetogenins
with mono-tetrahydrofuran ring from graviola fruit (Annona muricata). Bioorg Med Chem Lett.
2014; 24(12):2773-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2014.03.099.

Van Wyk BE. Food Plants of the World.
Portland, OR: Timber Press; 2006; p. 62

Waizel-Bucay J. Las Plantas y su Uso Antitumoral.
México, D.F.: Instituto Politécnico Nacional; 2012; p. 48.

Yang C, Gundala SR, Mukkavilli R, Vangala S, Reid MD, Aneja R. Synergistic interactions
among flavonoids and acetogenins in Graviola (Annona muricata) leaves confer protection
against prostate cancer. Carcinogenesis. 2015;36(6):656-65. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgv046.