Soursop (Guanabana)

We are so grateful to have a mature graviola tree (scientific name Annona muricata, common name of fruit is soursop) at the Ardent Light Motherland. One of our favorite tropical fruits and famous for its cancer curing properties, soursop (guanábana in Spanish, not to be confused with custard apple or cherimoya), has a delicious balance of sweet and sour with essences of strawberry, pineapple, banana, orange, lemon and lime flavors all wrapped into one. The soursop designation is actually the name of the fruit produced by the graviola tree.


Native to Central and South America, the graviola tree is an evergreen tree that can grow up to 30 feet (9 meters) tall. Its large spiny fruit averages 8 to 12 inches (20-30 centimeters) long and can weigh up to 15 pounds (7 kilograms). It still grows wild in the Amazon rainforest today and can also be found in the rainforests of sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. It is green or yellow-green on the outside with white juicy, fleshy pulp and black seeds inside. The white flesh is similar in texture to cooked fish though a bit softer, more fibrous and a bit spongy. Though the spines on the skin look hard and sharp, they are actually soft enough to bend so they will not prick your skin. The bendy spikes were designed more for cushion rather than to ward off predators.

Nutritional Value

Soursop fresh from our tree

Soursop fresh from our tree

Soursop is a good source of carbohydrates, fructose, fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper, vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B9 (folate) and C. A 100 gram serving of soursop provides:

  • Protein — 1 gram
  • Fiber — 3.3 grams (13% Daily Value)
  • Calories — 66
  • Fat — 0.3 gram (0% DV)
  • Carbohydrates — 17 grams (6% DV)
  • Vitamin C — 20.6 mg  (34% DV)
  • Potassium — 278 mg (8% DV)
  • Magnesium — 21 mg (5% DV)

See for a more complete list of nutrients in soursop.

Medicinal Value

Graviola leaves

Native cultures have long utilized graviola fruit, leaves, bark, roots and seeds to promote relaxation and restful sleep (using tea made from bark, leaves or roots), lactation (using the fruit), fight infection (bacterial, fungal, viral, parasitic), malaria, fever (using fruit or tea from bark), heal liver, wounds, eczema (using crushed leaves applied topically), asthma, cough, flu, inflammation of nasal passages and respiratory tract, heart problems, digestive (using the unripe fruit) and elimination problems (e.g., diarrhea, dysentery, constipation), hematuria (blood in urine), urethritis (inflammation of the urethra), high blood pressure, diabetes (bark, leaves, and roots), scurvy, muscle spasms, rheumatism, arthritis, relieve pain, joint inflammation, anxiety, depression, stress, epilepsy, prevent chronic disease (e.g., cancer), and remove head lice and bed bugs (using pulverized seeds applied topically).

The leaves and bark are used as a sedative, an antispasmodic (relieves muscle spasms), a hypotensive (treats high blood pressure), and a heart tonic. Brazilians drink graviola tea made from leaves for relief of liver problems, and apply the oil from the seeds to relieve arthritis and rheumatism. In Jamaica and the West Indies, the fruit is eaten to reduce fevers, treat diarrhea and dysentery, kill worms and other parasites. In the Andean mountain ranges of Peru, graviola leaves are brewed to discharge mucus and soothe inflamed mucous membranes.

10,000 Times More Effective Than Chemotherapy
Graviola tree with soursop fruits

Graviola tree with soursop fruits

Today, the fruit, leaves, stem and bark of graviola are being used in natural cancer treatment protocols with much success including the most difficult cancers to treat: lung, colon, breast, pancreatic, liver,  prostate, ovarian, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancers. Scientific research published in the Journal of Natural Products in 1996 revealed that graviola fruit and seeds in particular contain cytotoxic compounds (annonaceous acetogenins) that is 10,000 times more potent than the common chemotherapy drug Adriamycin at treating cancer. And unlike this and other toxic chemotherapy drugs, graviola does not cause extreme nausea, weight loss, hair loss, and damage healthy cells in the process, destroying only malignant cells. The annonaceous acetogenins (which are white waxy derivatives of long-chain fatty acids) even successfully target and kill multi-drug resistant (MDR) cancer cells, and all without harming healthy cells. About 2% of cancer cells have MDR properties, but this small subset of cancer cells can quickly multiply after initial chemotherapy, rendering subsequent rounds of chemo useless.

Not surprisingly, the drug industry has repeatedly tried to synthesize and patent the disease-fighting compounds annonaceous acetogenins found naturally in graviola. These substances have shown strong anti-tumor effects in test tubes, and what is more promising is that small doses such as one part per million seem to have great effect. Leaked data reveals that one unnamed drug company in particular spent seven years and hundreds of millions of dollars trying to replicate graviola’s innate healing compounds and claim them as its own. But these efforts ultimately failed, and thanks to an insider source, we now know the truth about graviola.

There is also copious published science replete with evidence corroborating what this drug company found. The National Cancer Institute, for instance, has known since the 1970s that graviola leaves and branches attack and destroy malignant cancer cells. And research conducted many years later at the Catholic University in South Korea found that graviola seeds target colon and lung cancer cells. Learn more about graviola and how to use it in the treatment of cancer at

Popular Remedy for Diabetes

Graviola in the flowering stage

Graviola is a popular remedy for diabetes in parts of Africa and South America, including Peru where practitioners often prescribe it for the disorder. In a laboratory study published in the “African Journal of Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine” in 2008, diabetic animals fed graviola for two weeks had blood glucose levels that were near normal without any additional diabetes treatment. In another paper published in the same journal in 2008, investigators found that diabetic animals fed graviola had higher blood levels of healthy antioxidants, less liver damage and lower blood levels of unhealthy fats than animals fed a placebo.

Antiparasitic & Antimicrobial

Soursop growing from the trunk for better support

U.S. researchers Lana Dvorkin-Camiel and Julia S. Whelan reviewed research on the use of extracts from tropical American plants in the treatment of infectious diseases. In their assessment of graviola, published in the December 2008 issue of the “Journal of Dietary Supplements,” the two cited multiple in-vitro studies that demonstrate graviola’s effectiveness against various microbial and parasitic agents. Specifically, graviola appears to be effective against such parasites as Leishmania braziliensis, Leishmania panamensis, Nippostrongylus braziliensis, Artemia salina and Trichomonas vaginalis, as well as against the Herpes simplex virus. This has led researchers to theorize that graviola could also be effective against HIV.

The Parkinson’s Disease Scare

As with other natural potent cancer cures, the cancer industry commonly distorts information to scare people from consuming them such as the claim that studies have found that the same potent cancer-fighting compound in graviola fruit that selectively kills cancer cells, is also neurotoxic leading to Parkinson’s disease in the the Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe. While research confirms that these anti-tumorous acetogenins also occur in high amounts in the seeds and roots of graviola, different alkaloid chemicals in the seeds and roots have shown some preliminary in vitro neurotoxic effects. Researchers have suggested that these alkaloids might be linked to atypical Parkinson’s disease in countries where the seeds are employed as a common herbal parasite remedy. Therefore, consuming the seeds and root of graviola on a regular basis is not recommended.

Other Contraindications

A larger than average soursop

Graviola’s purported anti-cancer potency comes largely from its ability to reduce the supply of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to cancer cells. ATP often provides metabolic energy to healthy cells as well, and nutritional supplements such as Coenzyme Q10, are known for increasing ATP. For this reason, CoQ10 may neutralize the effect of graviola so they should not be taken together.

Researchers exploring the mechanisms that graviola uses claim that the acetogenins in the plant can distinguish cancerous cells from healthy cells because cancer cells have a consistently higher level of cellular activity. The acetogenins recognize and selectively inhibit the cancer cells. Pregnant women are advised to avoid graviola because the high energy in the cells of the developing fetus may trigger the botanical’s toxic activity. The plant was also found to stimulate the uterus in one animal study.

Soursop has also been found to be an emetic which means it can make you vomit if it is consumed in very large quantities in one sitting. This may be good for healing purposes if you want to induce vomiting. Otherwise, avoid eating unusually large amounts at one time.

Summary of Medicinal Properties
Documented by Research Documented by Traditional Use
antibacterial, anticancerous, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, antifungal, antimalarial, antimutagenic (cellular protector), antiparasitic, antispasmodic, antitumorous, cardiodepressant, emetic (causes vomiting), hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), insecticidal, sedative, uterine stimulant, vasodilator antiviral, cardiotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the heart), decongestant, digestive stimulant, febrifuge (reduces fever), nervine (balances/calms nerves), pediculicide (kills lice), vermifuge (expels worms)

Culinary Use

Delicious soursop juice

In Brazil, graviola is used to make fresh juice, or mixed with milk and frozen to make fresh sherbet. It’s a popular flavor for juices, smoothies, ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt, cheesecake or daiquiris in Central American countries. The fruit can also be dried into a nice fruit leather or turned into powder for distribution in colder regions where the fruit does not grow natively. Do a keyword search for “soursop recipes” to learn many ways to prepare and eat soursop. In the U.S., you can find fresh soursop at most Asian supermarkets.


Soursop seeds

Graviola grows in most parts of the tropics and subtropics, preferring warm, humid weather and rich soil with good drainage (though can grow in almost any type of soil as on as it has enough water and drainage). It is sensitive to frost (will become damaged at temperatures near 42 degrees Fahrenheit or 5 degrees Celsius) and their shallow root system makes them vulnerable to wind damage. Make sure the soil around the tree is covered with garden cuttings (mulch) to prevent the soil from losing moisture and to prevent weeds from growing and removing nutrients from its soil. If planting from seed (the most common method), it will take three years before the tree bears fruit. The tree bears fruit throughout the year with peak times during October and April. Pick fruit when the dark green skin fades to yellow green and the flesh is rather soft to the touch. It will soften and ripen even more in 1 to 3 days after picking.