Completely unknown by a majority of the world's population, there are fruits that hold wondrous health benefits worth knowing. Guyabano, also known as guanabana or soursop, falls under this category of fruits. Below is a detailed review of this great fruit.
What Is Guyabano?
Soursop refers to a fruit that originates from the Graviola tree. It is referred to as guanabana in Spanish, graviola in Brazilian Portuguese and in English it is known as either custard apple or soursop. Its official, scientific name is annona muricata.
Graviola trees are mostly found growing in areas with a warm tropical climate such as South America and the Philippines.
The guanabana fruit is green in color, pear-shaped and its surface is covered with soft spines. A full mature fruit weighs around 2-5 kg. Large and ovoid (about 18cm long), it has a thin skin and a soft edible pulp (whitish in color) that is fibrous and fleshy. It has a distinct sweet-sour flavor similar to strawberry and pineapple with a little citrus taste.
This fruit is known for its medicinal purposes, serving as a sedative, maintaining proper intestinal health and as a nerve tonic. In fact, every part of the Graviola tree from its bark, roots, fruit and leaves have served various medicinal purposes. Seeds have been used in treating vomiting and nausea.
A number of health practitioners have recommended that its leaves and fruits be used in relieving stomach pain, distress, asthma, cough and fever. Guyabano fruit is rich in Iron, vitamin B, vitamin C, calcium and carbohydrates. It also includes phosphorus, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin and fiber.
Uses & Benefits
According to scientific research conducted at Purdue University and Catholic University of South Korea, on the guanabana tree, and more specifically on its fruit, stem, leaves and bark, there was proof that this plant could be an innate cancer cells killer.
A number of extracts from the fruit tree indicate that it is effectively able to target and then destroy completely the malignant cells found in about 12 cancer types that include breast, colon, lung, prostate and pancreatic cancer. A number of laboratory tests have shown that a compound extracted from guanabana is capable of selectively hunting down and killing cancer cells without harming the healthy cells.
This is considered great news in the fight against cancer as this fruit does not attack the healthy cells in a patient unlike chemotherapy where all active reproducing cells (like hair and stomach cells) are destroyed. This fruit has served as an ancient herbal medication in a number of regions worldwide. Guanabana is considered to be sudorific, emetic and antispasmodic.
A number of health benefits are associated with the soursop fruit and among them is the management of diabetes. According to an article published in the African Journal of Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2008), there was a clinical study conducted on rats that had been induced with diabetes mellitus.
The rats were then fed guanabana fruit and further tests revealed some positive effects of the blood sugar levels in these animals lowering. Additional studies reported in the same publication where other animals were induced with diabetes mellitus showed some improvements when they took Guyabano extract.
Although these tests reveal the possibility of the fruit extract having some medicinal benefits for the diabetes mellitus condition, there are no conclusive studies done on humans with diabetes.
Guanabana extract could be used to treat inflammation according to a report published in 2010 edition of the “International Journal of Molecular Sciences.” An extract from the guanabana leaves was tested for anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activities on animal models.
The ethanol extract from the leaves was found to reduce the exudates volume of a chemically induced edema.
A number of scientists are studying the guanabana for its ability to reduce the side-effects of chemotherapy and the protection against cancer. A study published in the “Journal of Natural Products” stated that there was one chemical compound found in Graviola that was about 10,000 times stronger than Adriamycin, a chemotherapy drug.
Other health benefits associated with Guyabano include alleviating pain that comes from arthritis, back and joint problems, and rheumatism.
It helps in preventing urinary tract infections as its Vitamin C content decreases the harmful bacteria in the urinary tract. It assists in providing headache and migraine relief, fighting anemia and in preventing constipation due to its fiber content. It boosts energy levels and bone health as well as preventing leg cramps thanks to the potassium found in the fruit.
Risks & Side Effects
It is important to note that there are some risks and effects associated with the use of guanabana, despite its many health benefits. The concoctions made from its seeds, leaves and barks should not be administered on small children, or lactating and pregnant women.
The bark of this tree contains alkaloids known as anoniine and anonaine that contain high amounts of hydrocyanic acid. There are small traces of this acid present in the leaves. This substance is colorless and considered to be poisonous.
There are several studies conducted in a Caribbean laboratory which shows that guanabana contains annonacin. This compound is said to have a connection to the development of Parkinson’s disease. And as such is not recommended for people suspected of having Parkinson’s disease or motor control difficulty.
Top Guyabano Products
Apart from taking soursop raw, it can be manufactured to create tarts, candies, shakes, beverages, sherbets and ice cream. The leaves have been used in the manufacture of tea like NalLife Organic Soursop Graviola tea leaves, Graviola Edge (Graviola Tea Company) and Pure Graviola – Whole Soursop leaves for tea. The stem as well as leaves are used in making soursop supplements and vitamins.
Guyabano Review Summary
Guyabano has been found to contain a large number of chemicals. However, it is considered “special “ due to the natural compound, acetogenins, it contains.
A number of research studies have established that acetogenins are capable of slowing down tumor growth and also destroying these cells without harming the healthy cells. Many scientists are currently looking at this possibility as chemotherapy has been found to harm both the healthy and cancerous cells. This natural compound could hold the key to finding the cure to cancer.
However, tests carried out so far have not been conducted on a human being and are therefore inconclusive. A number of heath regulatory bodies have therefore not cleared the use of this tree and its products as a form of alternative treatment to cancer until conclusive studies prove otherwise.