Table of Contents
7 Facts from our Guanabana Review
- Location: It is native to the Caribbean and Central America. It is also widely cultivated in Latin and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, the west indies, southeast Asia, and the Pacific.
- Product: a fruit in the genus annona
- Scientific Name(s): Annona muricata L.
- Costs: $30 – $100
- Intended use: medicinal properties
- Safety warning: This fruit has been associated with neurotoxicity
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What is Guanabana? Guanábana (Guanabana in English), also known as Graviola, guyabano, guanabana, and commonly called soursop annona muricata, is the fruit of a broadleaf, flowering, evergreen guanabana tree (arbol de guanabana). It has a dark green and prickly flesh with a white endocarp, the internal layer that surrounds the seeds in a fruit. Its black/brown tiny seeds can be found in its white endocarp. This fruit is ovoid with a flesh that is juicy, acidic, whitish, and aromatic.
This fruit has different names in different parts of the world. Some of its common names include Araticum-grande, Cachiman épineux, Araticum-manso, Coração-de-rainha, Graviola, Guanábano, Corossol épineux, Jaca-de-pobre, Sauersack, Jaca-do-Pará, and Stachelannone. It belongs to the family Annonaceae, and it is in the same genus as cherimoya.
Botanists have not been able to discover the exact origin of the fruit. However, it is native to the Caribbean and Central America. It is also widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical climates across the world.
It is widely adapted to places with relatively warm winters and high humidity. It can’t have healthy germination in places with temperatures below 5°C (41 °F). In such an area, the leaves and small branches might get damaged and even dry up the fruit, rendering it unsuitable for concentrate.
The guanabana plant smells like a pineapple with a flavor similar to the combination of strawberries and apples. Many use it to make ice cream, while some call it custard apple.
Although this fruit might not look very attractive to some people, especially due to its prickly flesh,many people claim it has medicinal properties. It contains several vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and phytochemicals and has been traditionally used in the management of diabetes-related diseases, diarrhea, as antimicrobial, sedative, and insecticides. It is also widely promoted as an alternative cancer treatment, but there’s no clinical evidence to back this up.
Review of Guanabana Science
Over the years, the guanabana fruit (guanabana fruta) has been associated with both medicinal treatments and toxic disease.
Use as a medicine
The fruit has a lot of nutritional value plus several essential phytochemicals.
Some of the nutritional supplements in this fruit include carbohydrates, dietary fiber, fat, protein, vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and sodium. It also contains water. Some guanabana benefits include:
Diabetes: Research conducted on the ethanolic bark extract in rats shows that the fruit possesses antidiabetic and hypolipidemic effects.
Anti-inflammatory: A 2010 rodent study shows that it has anti-inflammatory properties. The study revealed that it blocks pain receptors and reduces inflammation in rats.
Antioxidant: Another study in 2014 shows that fruit extracts have compounds with antioxidant abilities. Some of these compounds include Tannins, Flavonoids, Saponins, Phytosterols, Anthraquinones. More research still needs to be done to confirm if its antioxidants properties can prevent specific diseases.
Other pharmaceutical properties: Guanabana seeds, leaves, and fruits have been traditionally used to treat stomach upset and fever due to their abundance of various pharmaceutical compounds, although there’s no clinical trial supporting these uses. The leaves contain annonamine, a benzylisoquinoline alkaloid. The fruit, seeds, and leaves also contain annonacin, which is traditionally used for making sedative teas.
Problems as a toxic
However, this compound, annonacin, has been found to be toxic as well, especially to the nervous system when it is as high a concentration as is found in the fruit. The compound is thought to be a neurotoxin that kills nerve cells in the brain and the cells in other parts of the body. It is, therefore, considered seriously unsafe and may even cause movement disorders similar to Parkinson’s disease.
Clinical evidence found a relationship between consumption and atypical parkinsonism in humans. It was discovered that elderly males who consume annonacin-containing herbal teas regularly are prone to atypical Parkinsonism. Between 1996 and 1998, 25% of the 87 people with Parkinsonism transferred to one clinic had Parkinson’s, 39% had atypical Parkinsonism, and 36% had progressive supranuclear palsy. The presence of this toxic compound renders guanabana’s use limited.
On the other side, according to the French food safety agency, Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des produits de santé, “it is not possible to confirm that the observed cases of atypical Parkinson syndrome … are linked to the consumption of Annona muricata.”
Many people have paraded guanabana soursop as a cure for breast cancer, claiming it has anti-cancer properties. Scientists and scientific organizations have refuted this claim. According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Cancer Research UK, treating cancer with guanabana has no scientific backing. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America have gone as far as to warn against its use to treat cancer, mainly due to its association with neurotoxicity.
To further disclaim the efficiency of guanabana for cancer treatment, in 2008, the Federal Trade Commission in the US said there was “no credible scientific evidence” that the extract of soursop sold by Bioque Technologies “can prevent, cure, or treat cancer of any kind.”
How to get Guanabana products
You can purchase the fruit from local stores, or you can order directly from any suitable online store like Amazon.
Amazon also sells hojas de guanabana (or guanabana leaves) on Amazon for use in guanabana teas.
How to use Guanabana
The fruit is available in capsule and extracts forms. Since the FDA does not monitor the production, quality, or purity of herbs and supplements, the recommended dosage of this herb is not approved by the FDA. The limited research conducted so far on Guanabana is not enough to determine a safe, standardized dosage.
Generally, manufacturers recommend that users should take 1 to 4 milliliters of extract daily or 500 to 1,500 milligrams via capsule daily.
You can also consume the fruit as a tea from guanabana leaves or as guanabana juice.
However, to be on the safer side, many health professionals recommend avoiding the product due to its neurological side effects. Before taking guanabana, you should first speak to your doctor.
Guanabana Cost Reviews
Like other fruit, soursop varies in size. Thus, the price depends primarily on the size you desire and which store you purchase it from. The fruit usually sells between $30 and $100.
Amazon, for example, sells it for $88.90 ($2.78 / Ounce). You may find it cheaper or more expensive on other sites or offline shops.
Other Guanabana Reviews
The full product has 48 reviews on WebMD.com.
One of the user reviews on the site reads, “Caused severe headaches, tinnitus, and tremors. This is not a safe product. Maybe it works in place of chemotherapy, but for fungal infection, it is too dangerous based on my results”.
Another, more positive review on WebMD.com testified that the fruit was useful. She said, “I take graviola to boost my immune system. It has worked amazingly in correcting my eyesight from 40/20 to 20/20 and I am 60 years old.”
Guanabana in the News
Experts warn against using soursop to fight cancer cells
Guanabana Pros and Cons
- Contains several essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates
- Contains compounds with antioxidant abilities
- Has anti-inflammatory properties
- Contains annonacin, a potentially neurotoxic compound
While no one should start taking something with such serious side effects as neurotoxicity without speaking with a doctor, understanding your risk for neurological disease can help you have that discussion. Knowing your genetic predisposition to certain diseases like Parkinson’s disease can help you and your health care provider decide whether taking guanabana is at all safe.
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Did you like our guanabana review? You can read more reviews on our blog and check out our complete guide to the best DNA test kit and other home tests.