Allah’s Medicine Chest: Soursop (Annona muricata)

Allah’s Medicine Chest: Soursop (Annona muricata)

 

By Hwaa Irfan

This little known fruit in the West, has been receiving praise recently and has been referred to has being better than chemotherapy. Popular in the Caribbean, Soursop has had many uses from fruit, to teas, juices, puddings, jams, salads, ice creams, custards etc., while the leaves have served a medicinal function.  Native to the Americas, namely, Brazil, the Caribbean, Central America, northern South America, Columbia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela, naturally it is known by a variety of names.

Also known as graviola from the Portuguese, it is also known as Corossol epineux (France), aluguntungun (Ghana), Zuurzak (Holland), Sirsak (Indonesian); Zopote de viejas (Mexico), Mang cau xiem, Guanábana (Spanish),   (Vietnam), and Mundla (India).

A member of the Annonaceae family of the plant kingdom, it should not be confused with other members like sugar apple (A. squamosa), cherimoya (A. cherimola), custard apple (A. reticulata).  Annona muricata is a small tropical evergreen tree that can grow to a height of 30 ft. It likes warmth and humidity, and lots of water. With shallow roots, it does need a deep soil base, but prefers well drained sandy soil, and can be disturbed by the strong seasonal winds that frequent the Caribbean summers. Despite its heavy fruit, the slender tree is drought tolerant branching low with upturned limbs. Rusty hairs cover the young branches. The smooth fragrant leaves are a glossy dark/blue  green on the upper surface, and a lighter green on the under surface. They are oblong, and are pointed at both ends.

The singular flowers can appear anywhere on the trunk, branches or twigs, and the tree will flower and fruit throughout the year, They have short stalks, along, are plump, and triangular-conical.  There are 6 outer fleshy yellow-green petals in groups of three, surrounding a cone –shaped mass of carpels and stamens that will develop into the fruit.

The oval- heart-shaped fruit can weigh up to 10 – 15 lbs. The fruit is compound, an aggregate of fruits that form from a single flower. The fruit is covered with a reticulated, leathery-appearing but tender, inedible, bitter dark-green skin, and is covered with “spines,” but as the fruit ripens, the skin becomes a lime-green and the tips becomes susceptible to breakage.

The inner surface of the skin is cream-colored and granular separating easily from the mass of snow-white, fibrous, juicy pulp with the scent of pineapples that surrounds the soft-pithy core in segments. The pulp has a slightly acid flavor. A large fruit can have up to 200+ black seeds, which are indigestible.

The main commercial producers today are throughout the tropical Americas, Southeast Asia, Philippines, India, Hawai‘i, and other Pacific islands.

Chemical Properties differ according to the plant component, and area grown. They include:

  • B- caryophyllene
  • O – cadinene
  • aA- cadinols
  • Anonaine
  • Anoniine
  • Methionine
  • Lysine
  • Anonaine Isoquinoline – fruit (Surinam)     
  • Anonol  – leaf (Dominican Republic)
  • Asimilobine  – fruit (Surinam)
  • Atherosperminine Isoquinoline – root bark
  • Coclaurine, root bark, leaf (Guyana)
  • Cohibin C -seed (Brazil)
  • Corepoxylone  – seed (Brazil)
  • Coreximine, root (Guyana)
  • Coronin root (Guinea)
  • Corossolin – seed (Guyana, Brazil,  Taiwan)
  • Epomuricenin – seed, root (Brazil,Guinea)
  • Epomuricenin B – seed, root (Brazil, Guinea)
  • Goniothalamicin – seed, leaf (Guyana, US, Indonesia,  Dominican Republic,  Brazil)
  • Goniothalamicin – seed (Dominican Republic)
  • Javoricin – seed (Dominican Republic)
  • Lignoceric – leaf (Dominican Republic)
  • Sabadelin – seed (Guinea)
  • Solamin – seed, stembark,   root,(Brazil, India,Guinea, French Guiana)
  • Tyramine,      n-para-coumaroyl – leaf (Indonesia)
  • Uvariamicin I – root (Guinea)

Pectoral – flowers, helps to relieve chest infections

Antispasmodic – leaves, relieves spasms
Emetic – seeds, induces vomiting thus helping to relieve the digestive tract of toxic substances
Sudorific – Infusion of leaves, increases perspiration, which also helps to relieve the body of toxic substances

Anti-carcinogen Annona muricata has proven to be better at targeting than chemotherapy which kills healthy cells as well as cancer cells. This was proven to be the case in a 1996 study whereby the seeds was found to be cytotoxic to adenocarcinoma cells with a potency that is 10,000 times stronger than adriamycin, is used in the first line treatment of cancer. Adriamycin causes terrible side effects that can damage the cardiovascular system, and therefore fatal. These findings were more or less affirmed by

A 2003 study by researchers in Taiwan which found the compounds acetogenin, annonacin highly toxic to ovarian, cervical, breast, bladder and skin cancer at very low dosages.

A 1997 study by Purdue University Annonaceous acetogenins to be ” . . . not only are effective in killing tumors that have proven resistant to anti-cancer agents, but also seem to have a special affinity for such resistant cells.”

A 1999 study demonstrated Annona muricata as an anti-carcingen in the case of prostate and breast cancer, and a 2002 study demonstrated Annona muricata prevents liver cancer.

A 2011 study found that an extract of Annona muricata suppressed oncogene, which is believed to be a cancer-causing gene.

Antiherptic – A Study by S. Gajalakshmi and team from the School of Biosciences and Technology, Tamilnadu, India found Annona muricata to be effective against Herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1)

In the Dutch Antilles, the leaves are used as a sleeping aid, by simply placing inside one’s pillow-case. They also use the leave as a decoction for the same purpose.

In Jamaica, the leaves have been used in the treatment of hypertension, worms, and as a tranquilizer.

In the Caribbean, the fruit and/or fruit juice is used for fevers, parasites and diarrhoea; the bark or leaf as an antispasmodic, sedative, and nervine for heart conditions, coughs, flu, difficult childbirth, asthma, hypertension, and parasites.

In the Peruvian Andes, a leaf tea is used for catarrh and the crushed seed to kill parasites.

In the Peruvian Amazon the bark, roots, and leaves are used for diabetes and as a sedative and antispasmodic.

Nutritional Content

Includes:

  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Calcium
  • Copper (seed)
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Niacin
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Potassium
  • Riboflavin
  • Sodium
  • Thiamine
  • Tryptophan
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc (seed)

Contraindications

Annona muricata is a cardiodepressant, vasodilator, and hypotensive (lowers blood pressure). It has been found that large doses can cause nausea and vomiting.

In balance He gave us everything we needed, but as for what we want!

Sources:

“Is This Fruit Extract 10,000 Times Better Than Chemotherapy?” http://worldtruth.tv/is-this-fruit-extract-10000-times-better-than-chemotherapy/

Gajalakshmi. S et al. “Phytochemical And Pharmacological Properties of Annona Muricata: A Review.” http://www.ijppsjournal.com/Vol4Issue2/3297.pdf

“Graviola.” http://rainforest-database.com/plants/graviola.htm

Kossouoh,C, et al. “Essential Oil Chemical Composition of Annona muricata L. Leaves from Benin. “http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10412905.2007.9699288#preview

Love, K and Paull, R.E. “Soursop.” http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/F_N-22.pdf

“Presence of Compounds in Graviola (Annona muricata).” http://rainforest-database.com/plants/graviola-chemicals.pdf

Soursop (Annona muricata ) http://www.tropicalfruits.com.my/pdf/soursop.pdf

Series:

Allah’s Medicine Chest

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