The Healing Values Of Soursop
Botanical name: Annona muricata
Family: annonaceae (annona family)
Common names: Soursop, Graviola, Brazilianawpaw, Prickly custard apple, etc.
Soursop is believed to be indigenous to most of the warmest tropical regions of the world.
It is a small upright evergreen tree that grows up to 6 metres tall.
It has large dark and shiny green and leathery leaves, which has a pungent odour when crushed.
The flowers are large, with yellow or greenish-yellow colour.
The fruit of the tree (soursop) is large and has a heart-like shape, covered with small spine-shaped structures.
The pulp is fleshy, soft and white in colour, with a slightly sour-acid taste and it can be eaten out-of-hand. The fruit may contain up to 100 black seeds.
In most tropical regions of the world, where the plant grows, it is often referred as a miracle tree.
In natural medicine practice, all parts of the soursop tree are used as medicine, including the roots, barks, stems, leaves, fruits and the fruit-seeds.
Each part of the tree has long been shown to have different therapeutic properties.
Many scientific analyses have shown that soursop contains many nutrients, including protein, sugar, fatty acids, dietary fiber, Vitamins C, B1, B2, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium chloride.
It also contains many bioactive compounds and phytochemicals, such as alkaloid, citric-acid, malic-acid, stearic-acid, stepharine, tannin, vinblastine, etc.
Generally, it is known that soursop has a broad spectrum antimicrobial, antispasmodic, anti-diabetic, antioxidant, analgesic, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, astringent, cardio tonic, diuretic, emetic, galactagogue, immunity boosting, laxative, liver tonic, sedative and activities.
Besides these activities, the main interest in this plant is because of its strong anti-cancer or anti-tumour properties and effects.
Cancer And Preventive Agent
Various parts of the plant- leaves, stems, fruits and seeds- have been shown to contain phytochemicals, which are cytotoxic against various types of cancer cells, including colon, breast, ovarian, uterine, prostate, lung, pancreatic, anal, kidney, liver, lung and skin cancers.
Soursop fruit or the fruit juice can be taken to prevent or treat cancer.
The fresh leaves and stems of the plant can also be used for the same purpose.
In these cases, about one handful of the fresh leaves and stems of soursop is cut into pieces and boiled in 1 (One) litre water until the water is reduced to half. This is then strained and up to100 ml is taken orally morning and night.
The decoction can be sweetened with pure honey.
Soursop has been proven to be a miraculous natural cancer cell killer and it is said to be 10,000 times stronger than most chemotherapy drugs.
A recent study conducted at Catholic University of South Korea shows that one chemical (acetogenins) present in soursop was found to selectively kill colon cancer cells at10, 000 times the potency more than the commonly used Adriamycin (a chemotherapy drug).
Unlike chemotherapy, which indiscriminately destroys both cancerous and normal cells, the compound extracted from the soursop selectively kills only cancer cells without harming the healthy and normal ones.
Other Uses Of Soursop
The fruit juice of soursop is creamy, with musky, sub-acid to acid flavour, sometimes used in ice cream.
It is rich in Vitamins B and C. It is commonly taken after childbirth to help increase mother’s breast milk to cool down feverish conditions, chill and flu, as an astringent for diarrhea and dysentery and for intestinal parasites.
The alkaloid-rich fresh leaves and bark/roots of soursop can be prepared as a standard infusion (one cup 2-3 times daily); decoction (1-3 times twice daily or 6 grams of powdered leaves in capsules in 3-4 divided dosages) for the following conditions:
Digestive Problems: Constipation, indigestion, as emetic, diarrhea, dyspepsia, peptic ulcer, diabetes, liver and gallbladder disorders.
Bacterial and fungal infections (as broad spectrum antimicrobial), cold, flu, catarrh and fevers.
Nervous disorders: nervousness, edgy nerves, insomnia (as tranquilizer or sedative).
Heart problems, palpitation, hypertension with insomnia and nervousness and anemia.
Various menstrual disorders and difficult childbirth.
Respiratory tract problems: cough, asthma, chest problems and bronchitis.
In some rural communities, infused oil prepared from the fresh leaves and unripe fruit of soursop is mixed with olive oil or virgin coconut oil and used externally for massaging in cases of arthritic/rheumatic pains, gout and neuralgia.
Soursop has been found to be a potent uterine stimulant. Therefore, it should be avoided during pregnancy.
High doses of the infusion (tea) or decoction may cause nausea and vomiting.
Presently, the plant has not shown any recorded drug interaction.
However, those taking prescription antihypertensive and antidepressants drugs are advised to be careful with soursop, because it may potentiate these drugs.
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