Graviola, Custard Apple, Guanabana, Brazilian Paw Paw
Leaves and Fruit
Originating in South America, Soursop is a delicious, tangy fruit that has been used as a nutritious and medicinal food by native people for centuries. The taste is a delectable combination of strawberry and pineapple with a citrus tang, making it a highly desirable fruit to eat.
Much of the tree is utilised in traditional medicine, for example the leaves are used to make a calming tea that also works as a pain reliever. The sap of the leaves is applied topically to promote the fast healing of wounds and provide relief from skin conditions such as eczema. Contemporary herbalists recommend the fruit and the leaves of the Soursop tree to combat pain, break a fever, kill parasites and relieve respiratory problems.
The Soursop fruit is high in the immune boosting vitamin, vitamin C. Crucial to the overall health of the body in its efforts to fight off infections (both bacterial and viral), white blood cells contain 20 times the amount of vitamin C than other cells and require constant replenishment to keep the immune system working to its optimum capacity.
The leaves of Graviola are also packed with immune boosting compounds. The active ingredients in Graviola leaf are kaempferol, rutinoside and quercetin-3-O-rutinoside. A 2015 study found that these powerful plant chemicals enhance the immune activity in macrophage cells due to the activation of certain pathways.
Another 2016 research article published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine reported that, “bioactive properties of Graviola indicate its potential as a health-promoting ingredient to boost the immune system.”
Whilst inflammation is a valid immune response in the body, chronic low-level inflammation is known to be a root cause of many issue including rheumatoid arthritis and auto-immune conditions. Graviola is a natural anti-inflammatory that is high in powerful antioxidants, with many research studies finding that this fruit is effective in reducing chronic inflammation.
Studies show that extracts from the Soursop fruit and leaves may reduce depression. Containing three types of alkaloids; asimadoline, annonaine, and nornuciferine, these phytochemicals stimulate serotonin receptors. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that directly contributes to mood in a positive way.
Soursop can also help to reduce stress and anxiety by counteracting the effects of cortisol – the body’s main stress hormone - enabling the body to deal with stress and bringing the nerves down to a more manageable level.
The anti-microbial properties found in Graviola can help to speed up the recovery from respiratory ailments such as the common cold and bronchitis. Its anti-inflammatory effects can help to clear airways, relieve congestion and soothe irritation. With expectorant qualities, Graviola is also helpful in eliminating phlegm and mucus where many pathogens live.
The Soursop/Graviola fruit can be eaten fresh, added into smoothies or juiced.
The Soursop leaves are commonly used to make tea.
The Soursop makes its first appearance in written history in the 16th century when it was described by the Spanish explorer Oviedo, "as cones or fruit as large as melons but longish in shape". He noted that it grew abundantly in the West Indies and in Northern South America, and Oviedo and other Spanish explorers are credited with spreading the Graviola fruit around the world.
It is believed to have made its way into North America, in particular Florida, around 140 years ago, having been listed by the "American Pomological Society" in 1879.
In 1951 a Professor in Puerto Rico who was encouraging the development of the Soursop told a professor of agriculture in the United States that he wanted to adopt a different name for the fruit in the US. He didn’t think the name was very appealing and was concerned its alias, Guanabana, was too difficult to pronounce. To this day, a better name has not been found.
Soursop/Graviola contains vitamins; C, B1, B3, B3, B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 & B9 (folate). Minerals; potassium, magnesium, copper, iron and phosphorus. The phytochemicals present in Soursop are alkaloids, flavonoids, carbohydrates, cardiac glycosides, saponins, tannins, phytosterols, terpenoids, and proteins.
Not recommended if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Do not use Soursop/Graviola if you have low blood pressure or are taking any prescription medications for blood pressure.
If you are taking any prescription medications, please consult your healthcare practitioner.