Graviola, scientific name Annona muricata L., is also known by other names, depending on the geographic area. You may know it as soursop, Brazilian paw paw, guanábana, guanaba, corossol épineux, huanaba, toge-banreisi, etc. Graviola is a small bush that may grow up to 10 m and is known for having medicinal properties. It is possible to use the leaves, roots, fruits and seeds for several purposes, from food to medication.
It has been used in natural medicine for many years, especially by the people of the Amazon Forest and of Central America. In the Peruvian Andes, the tea made from the leaves has been long used by indigenous people, for phlegm and cough, and the seeds crushed to eradicate parasites. In the Peruvian Amazon, the roots and leaves are also used as anti-spasmodic and sedative. There are many other uses in the tradition of several populations, such as for other plants, but what effects are really proven?
This plant is composed of several substances, such as flavonoids, acetogenins, alkaloids, etc., known by having biological activity and health benefits. Acetogenins have been used by the pharmaceutical industry in antibiotics, antifungals, natural insecticides, cytostatics and other medicines. Flavonoids, known by their antioxidant capacity, provide protection against cancer diseases, cardiovascular diseases and strengthen the immune system. Alkaloids are widely used by the pharmaceutical industry, especially in chemotherapeutic and sedative medicines.
Up to the moment, FAO has approved graviola to support the immunological function. There are, however, several preliminary studies for other situations. In what concerns the claims that the plant may be an ally in the fight against cancer, the results are not yet conclusive.
It is known that graviola has hypoglycemic properties, and there are those who use it to control glycaemia.
There are also works mentioning its capacity to reduce spasms, relieving abdominal pain. It is rich in anti-oxidants and possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic activity.
Currently, graviola is popular for cooking, to improve the quality of products such as ice-cream and yogurt, adding value for its nutritional attributes, with his nectar being rich in phosphorus, potassium, zinc and calcium. Graviola’s fruit is much appreciated.
It is a plant with many benefits, but it should be consumed with moderation, always respecting the dosages mentioned in the packaging when using the leaves and seeds (the richest in acetogenins).
It should not be used during pregnancy and those with low blood pressure should be careful with graviola consumption due to its vasodilator activity. Excessive consumption, in some people, may cause nausea, drowsiness and vomits.
Insert date: 2015-08-24 Last update: 2016-06-02
Authors > Contributor writers > ClŠudia Maranhoto