Traditional Herbal Medicine
Throughout the Caribbean, in South America, and in parts of Madagascar and Malaysia, Soursop played and is still playing an important role in traditional herbal medicine using different parts or the Soursop plant against different maladies:
Bark: Asthma, cough, ease childbirth, diabetes, flu, hypertension, parasites, muscle spasms. Also used as a heart tonic and a sedative.
Flowers: Coughs and bronchitis
Fruit and Fruit: Juice Primarily used for disorders of the digestive tract – mouth sores, diarrhea, colitis, dysentery. Also used to treat fevers and as a sedative.
Leaves: The most commonly used part of the plant, the leaves of the graviola plant have been traditionally used to treat a wide range of ailments, including:Weakness, asthma, bronchitis, congestion from colds, colic, coughs, diabetes, water retention, dysentery, fever, gallbladder disorders, flu, heart disease, hypertension, indigestion, intestinal parasites, liver ailments, malaria, palpitations, muscle spasms, tumors, ulcers, water retention, and as a general tonic.It is also commonly used as a sedative or tranquilizer.
Externally, leaves are used as a poultice or tincture(or sometimes crushed and mixed with oil) to treat abscesses, boils, swelling, infections, rashes, head lice, ringworm, skin problems, pain from arthritis or rheumatism, nerve pain, or to stop bleeding.The leaves of the soursop plant are also given to new mothers to ease difficult childbirth and to aid in the production of breast milk.
Root and Root bark: The root of Annona muricata is traditionally used as a sedative, to relieve muscle spasms, and to treat diabetes.Seeds: Primarily used as an insecticide and to treat various parasites, including worms, skin parasites and head lice. Also used to relieve gas in the digestive tract and to induce vomiting.
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Side effects- Safety-Drug interactions-Contraindications:
- Do not take soursoup (graviola) supplements if:
- You are pregnant – Graviola can trigger premature uterine contractions.
- If you are breast feeding, as it may be unsafe for your baby.
- If you have Parkinson’s disease.
- This supplement should not be taken by anyone under age 18 unless prescribed by a medical professional.
- Use with caution (or better yet, get your doctor’s OK) if you are allergic to latex – there is some evidence of cross-reactivity between fruits of the custard apple family and latex (“latex-food syndrome.”)
Avoid if you are taking any of the following types of drugs:
- cardiac depressant drugs
- MAO inhibitors
Graviola can dangerously increase or decrease the effects of these medications – take only under the direction and supervision of your physician. Dosages of your medication may need to be closely monitored or adjusted.
Taking the supplement CoQ10 (Co-enzyme Q10) along with Soursop may interfere with the effectiveness of Soursop.
High dosages may cause nausea and vomiting and/or result in sleepiness or sedation. If this occurs, reduce or discontinue the dosage and notify your doctor.
Long-term use of soursop may reduce “helpful” bacteria in your digestive tract. Consider supplementing with probiotics.
Chronic use of higher than recommended dosages of soursop MAY cause symptoms of neurological damage similar to Parkinson’s disease. Although there is evidence, this connection has yet to be proven, and there may be additional genetic or environmental factors involved. Excessive use of the root, root bark and seeds of the plant should be avoided, as alkaloids in these parts of the plant may be to blame.
Periodic use of graviola (soursop) has not been associated with these neurological side-effects. For that reason, it is recommended that you do NOT take this supplement every day if you are taking it long-term. In an article we found, one physician 2 suggests taking it 5 days a week for 3 weeks and then skipping the 4th week, and taking a full month’s break every 3 months. Some users have taken it on weekdays and skipped week-ends. However this is very generic advice – we strongly urge you to seek the advice of your own doctor or qualified medical professional, and follow the label instructions and precautions for any product you are taking.
1. Graviola (Annona muricata) Monograph By Barbara Noller N.D., BHSc., December 2003
2. Graviola supplement research studies, benefits, risks, side effects By Dr. Ray Sahelian MD
Soursop (Graviola) Research
A collection of relevant clinical studies which have been conducted on Annona muricata (soursop) and its extract, and several articles on this supplement which were written and/or reviewed by medical professionals.
Last updated: May 25, 2014
Annona muricata – General Research:
Technical Data Report for Graviola
(Download the pdf)
This 2005 document, which includes two resources ( an excerpt from The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs (2005), by Leslie Taylor and a 2003 monograph by Barbara Noller N.D., BHSc), provides a comprehensive overview of Soursop (Graviola) – its chemical properties, traditional use and the findings of various clinical studies from the mid-1900′s through 2003. Older resource, but highly recommended.
In vitro antioxidant studies in leaves of Annona species.
Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, May 2007
Findings of this study suggest that the extracts of A. muricata possess potent in vitro antioxidant activity
Toxicological evaluation of the lyophilized fruit juice extract of Annona muricata Linn. (Annonaceae) in rodents.
Journal of Basic Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology, December, 2013
The study established that soursop extract did not cause any significant toxic effect in rats following oral administration for 60 consecutive days.
Synergistic larvicidal effect and morphological alterations induced by ethanolic extracts of Annona muricata and Piper nigrum against the dengue fever vector Aedes aegypti.
Pest Management Science, May 2013
The extracts of Annona muricata (soursop) and the Piper nigrum fruit may be an inexpensive way to kill the larvae of the Aedes aegypti mosquito – a vector of Dengue fever.
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