What Are the Health Benefits of Graviola?

Soursop at Fruit Vendor Stall
A pile of graviola on a market table. (Image: JPLDesigns/iStock/Getty Images)

Graviola, also known as guanaba, Brazilina pawpaw and soursop, is the green, heart-shaped fruit from a tree found in the rain forests of South America and Southeast Asia. It is reputed to have a number of health benefits.

Properties

According to Sloan-Kettering Cancer center, graviola has been used as a traditional remedy in many countries for centuries. Extracts from the fruit can protect from certain viruses, contract the skin’s pores, repel parasites and relieve rheumatism. Sloan Kettering also warns that alkaloids extracted from graviola may produce degeneration and neural dysfunction, symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Cancer Research

The website Cancer Research UK claims that laboratory studies have shown that extracts from Graviola may have the ability to kill certain types of breast and liver cancer that are currently resistant to chemotherapy drugs. However, researchers have not yet conducted any large scale studies in humans, so it is too early to say whether Graviola extracts will make a suitable treatment for cancer.

Herpes Study

A review in the 2009 issue of "African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines" confirms that extracts of graviola are effective for treating herpes simplex virus. The study reviewed notes that when applied to an affected area, the extract works by blocking the viral action on the cells and tissue, shortening the period of infection and potentially preventing further outbreaks. Herpes simplex is a viral infection that mainly affects the mouth and the genital area.

FDA Warning

In June 2009, True Renewal, a website marketing a graviola supplement, received a warning letter from the FDA about the website's claims that the supplement could prevent cancer, treat fungal and bacterial infections, cure depression and alleviate high blood pressure. True Renewal and its subsidiary, drjenine.com, were warned that their statements made unlawful claims and must be amended. The sites no longer promote or sell graviola products.

Side Effects

Aside from the fact that graviola alkaloids may cause effects similar to Parkinsonism, little is known about how it affects the body or how it interacts with other herbal supplement or prescription mediations. You should consult your physician before using products containing graviola.

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