Soursop, commonly known as Graviola, guabanana, or Brazilian paw paw, is a tropical fruit that has been used as an herbal treatment for stomach ailments and fever. The impressive health benefits of soursop include its ability to kill parasites, improve respiratory conditions, offer sedative qualities, reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancer, boost the immune system, soothe the stomach, and relieve pain.
What is a Soursop (Graviola)?
If you have traveled extensively in Mexico, the Caribbean, or parts of South America, then you have most likely seen the soursop tree, which is an evergreen tree with the scientific name Annona muricata. The taste of the soursop fruit is a delicious combination of strawberry and pineapple, with other sweet and citrus notes that make it very popular in these parts of the world. It is also cultivated in Africa, Southeast Asia, and even in Florida. You can also plant it in your own garden for individual consumption. The soursop is only one type of Annona. It is one of the largest types of Annona with several different uses. The soft pulp and fiber of the fruit are used for beverages, desserts, smoothies, and candy, as well as a wealth of traditional medical treatments.
While the flavor is enough to make this a popular fruit, the rich vitamin, and nutrient content of the fruit includes vitamin C, vitamin B, and some antioxidant compounds. The juice from soursop has been used topically, while pulverized seeds and decoctions made of leaves are also popular forms of natural remedies. You can also use the leaves and pulverized seeds to brew a powerful tea, which also has several impressive effects on the human body. The book Herbal Medicine and Home Remedies on traditional medicines from the Bahamian Culture contains the recipe for soursop drink for quick cures.
Health Benefits of Soursop (Graviola)
Let’s take a closer look at some of the many health benefits of soursop.
The anti-parasitic nature of soursop has made it a popular treatment in many of the rural areas of Latin and South America, particularly in areas where parasitic infections are more common. By brewing a tea from the leaves of the fruit, you can keep your gastrointestinal system is running smoothly. This benefit is confirmed by a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences .
Researchers from Brazil experimented on animal models and found the anti-inflammatory properties of soursop. So, 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 may 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.
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Relieves Respiratory Distress
If you are struggling with a cough, cold, or other forms of the respiratory ailment, then soursop’s anti-inflammatory properties can help 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.
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 excessive stress and anxiety. Stress hormones in the body can be detrimental and can disturb 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.
You can pulverize the seeds of the soursop fruit into a powder, which can then be formulated into a skin astringent, helping you reduce lines and wrinkles, and improving the appearance of age spots and blemishes. Topically apply this paste to the affected areas regularly and feel the glow on your skin return. It also protects your skin from bacterial and microbial infections.
The most interesting benefits of soursop are related to its antioxidant activity, which comes from acetogenins, as well as quinolones and alkaloids. These have been directly linked to cancer prevention and a reduction in the size of tumors in animal studies.
Extensive research has been done on the unique organic compounds of soursop and it has been widely studied as an alternative way of reducing the risk of cancer. The acetogenins present in them 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 reducing the risk of breast, pancreatic, prostate, and lung cancers.
A study has shown that the leaves of the soursop plant are more potent than its fruits and seeds, against the proliferation of breast cancer cells. However, its use against cancer is debatable as Cancer Treatment Centers of America has highlighted a few studies which show contradictory results.
Protecting the immune system is one of the most important components of maintaining a healthy body. Adding a bit of soursop fruit to your diet, either through refreshing beverages or desserts, can positively impact your overall health. 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.
Improves 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 as it can cleanse the gastrointestinal tract and remove excess toxins and salts from the body. This is reinforced by University of Miami research professor Julia Morton, who also authored the book Fruits of Warm Climate. Its anti-inflammatory components, including the alkaloids and quinolones, can reduce parasites in the gut and alleviate any pain or irritation in the stomach or colon.
In terms of pain relief, soursop has been topically applied to wounds and injuries for generations. However, it 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. The analgesic properties of soursop have been confirmed in an experiment conducted on rodents, published in the Journal of Medicinal Food .
Word of Caution: While these traditional uses are powerful and effective, it is important to discuss any new additions to your health regiment with a trained medical professional. This is particularly pertinent in the case of its cancer-fighting potential. It is wise to seek out multiple opinions before developing your treatment profile. And as always, everything in moderation!