Soursop (Annona muricata)

15 health benefits of soursop

Soursop, a tropical fruit and the evergreen tree that bears it, is a seemingly magical natural food that has a myriad of health benefits. Here are 15 soursop health benefits you should know about.

Summary:
Health Benefits of Soursop

  1. Cancer and tumor growth suppression
  2. Vision health
  3. Anti-inflammatory compound
  4. Diabetes management and blood sugar stabilization
  5. Kills ticks and may thwart Lyme Disease
  6. Stomach and digestive system health
  7. Eliminates intestinal parasites
  8. Pain relief
  9. Natural sleep aid
  10. Liver health assistance
  11. Depression and anxiety remedy
  12. Stress reduction
  13. Supports healthy cardiovascular function
  14. Respiratory tract ailment relief
  15. Immunity booster

Health benefits of soursop fruit and leaves

Cancer and tumor growth suppression

A phytochemical in soursop fruit, bark and leaves, has been shown to be toxic to cancer cells. The results come from one laboratory study, however many studies since show soursop may be effective in preventing the development of tumors and reducing tumor size. Many people claim soursop is a cure for cancer. Such claims have not been substantiated by research studies on humans but the lab studies that have been done do show substantive evidence. These studies are expensive and studying a natural product has no payoff for a funding body, except for the common good. So such a study would need to be backed by a philanthropist or the government. If you have heard that soursop cures cancer, that is because it has been consumed by generations of people who have access to it in tropical regions of the world.

Vision health

Soursop fruit contains high levels of antioxidants, which help reduce oxidative load in the body. It contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and natural carotenoid compounds. These preserve the health of your eyes and help ensure healthy vision. This also helps thwart macular degeneration, cataract development, and promote optimal eye function.

Anti-inflammatory compound

Soursop fruit has been used for centuries in traditional African medicine to treat neuralgia, rheumatism and arthritic pain. In a 2014 study on mice, the active ingredient in soursop showed significant effects on reducing inflammation. Both the soursop fruit and soursop tea leaves contain high antioxidant content, a key for fighting inflammation in the body. As one of the major precursors of many types of disease, one cup of soursop tea is a powerful preventive measure for reducing the inflammation that leads to serious ailments.

Diabetes management and blood sugar stabilization

Research has shown that mice who consumed soursop had significantly lower blood sugar levels than their control group counterparts. This is likely due to an active ingredient in soursop fruit and its tea derivative that stops the dysfunctional breakdown in the body where carbohydrates are converted to glucose. In addition, it’s been shown that soursop tea may reduce the effect of oxidative stress which causes damage to the livers of my diabetes sufferers. For Type l diabetics, soursop may support the pancreas to produce new insulin producing cells.

Stomach and digestive system health

Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, soursop is wonderful for decreasing oxidative stress and strengthening the mucus linings of internal organs. This helps to decrease inflammation and reduce the effect of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Individuals who suffer from digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s Disease, IBS or ulcers may benefit greatly from soursop consumption. It has long been used to treat dysentery.

Eliminates intestinal parasites

Soursop has anti-helminthic properties which makes it a potent tool for fighting bacteria, parasites and worms. It works in a similar way as many anti-parasitic drugs, though it’s 100 per cent natural. More specifically, soursop has been show to be effective in treating leishmaniasis, a disease that is transmitted to humans from sand fleas. It may also by useful in treating viral and bacterial based infections from the chronic cough, the common cold to herpes.

Pain relief

Soursop has shown analgesic, pain relieving properties, especially when consumed in higher amounts (2-3 cups of tea per day or 1-2 cups of fresh fruit per day). It does this because of an ingredient in the fruit that interacts with the nervous system. Its suggested, however, that when consuming soursop in large quantities, it should be measured against the body’s response. Exceeding more than a therapeutic dose may have adverse effects, like nausea, and ALS like symptoms. Pain relief is also a welcome effect from the anti-inflammatory properties that soursop produces.

Natural sleep aid

One cup of soursop tea before bed can be a potent all-natural remedy for a restful night’s sleep. Many individuals who suffer from sleep challenges such an insomnia, may benefit from soursop tea. It provides a calming, stress-relieving effect to the body.

Stress reduction

If you are stressed or anxious, soursop provides a calming relief to the body. This is one major health benefits or soursop. It does this by counteracting the effects of cortisol, a chemical that is released from the body during high states of stress.

Depression and anxiety remedy

Soursop’s calming and sedative effects can be of great use to those who who suffer from anxiety. It is known to lower blood pressure as well. And, it doesn’t have any depressive side effects. Studies show that extracts from soursop fruit and leaves may reduce depression. There are three key types of alkaloids in the plant: asimadoline, annonaine, and nornuciferine. These stimulate  serotonin receptors. And serotonin is an essential biochemical found in the brain and gut that promotes feeling good.

Respiratory tract ailment relief

Soursop has anti-microbial properties. So it can be used to cure acute conditions such as sore throat, stuffy nose, or the common cold. Best of all, it can help speed recovery from these ailments. It does this by soothing inflammation and irritation in the throat, as well as, thinning mucus secretions. It also has a high vitamin C content know to boost immunity.

Liver health assistance

Soursop is useful for purifying and cleansing the liver.  This is because it is full of soluble fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and phytochemicals. It may detoxify the liver and support immune function. In addition, it’s been shown that soursop returns bilirubin levels to normal levels when they malfunction. This can help reverse and shield the liver from major health issues. This mighty fruit may also counteract the affects of jaundice that can occur from taking certain medications, a result of bilirubin build up.

Cardiovascular health

Soursop is known to reduce blood pressure naturally, which for cardiovascularly compromised people is ideal. It boosts blood circulation and reduces anxiety. It is also known to lower cholesterol. Read more on how soursop is good for health health

Immunity booster

Packed with vitamins, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, anti-bacterial agents and phytochemicals, soursop is a incredible for strengthening and boosting the immune system. Among the health benefits of soursop is protection against viral infections and may even help the body fight and suppress the HIV virus and herpes viruses.

Kills ticks and may thwart Lyme Disease

Soursop’s anti-helminthic properties make it a power fruit for fighting ticks and the nervous system issues they cause. It may be useful in treating illnesses such as Lyme disease, though more research is needed to understand it better.

Your best body is mainly a result of the foods you consume and the environments you frequent. This makes soursop one of the best preventive health measures to take to ensure you avoid the risk of chronic disease. And if you are currently dealing with a health challenge, the health benefits of soursop may be exactly what you need to get better fast and without any harmful chemical effects.

[Look to buy soursop fruit and leaves for tea? Click here]

soursop treats herpes

Soursop for Herpes

Have you heard of using soursop (graviola or guanabana) to treat herpes? While soursop is a well known natural treatment for cancer, insomnia, and  digestive issues, not very many people know that it can also be used to treat the herpes virus.

Herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). The virus affects external genitalia, around the anus, and mucosal surfaces. It can also affect skin in various parts of the human body.

It causes blisters, ulcers, pain during urination, cold sores and vaginal discharge. There is no cure for herpes, however it can be treated with both medications and home remedies.

There are two types of herpes simplex viri:

  • Herpes type 1 is known as or oral herpes. The short form is HSV-1
  • Herpes type 2 is known as genital herpes. The short form HSV-2

The science behind graviola as a treatment for herpes

The active ingredient in soursop is thought to be a type of plant compound (phytochemical) called annonaceous acetogenins, which has been found to be effective against the herpes virus in laboratory experiments. However clinical research involving humans is needed to prove it definitively.

It is estimated that more than 16% of the population and more is infected with Herpes Virus Simplex 2 and about 67% have the oral version that causes facial cold sores.

To treat herpes, sufferers can consume soursop leaves as tea or eat the soursop fruit.

Here’s how to use soursop leaves as a herpes remedy:

  1. Buy some air dried organic soursop leaves (also called graviola leaves) from Soursopstore.com
  2. Crush 5 large dried soursop leaves
  3. Boil 5 cups of water
  4. Drop leaves into water
  5. Reduce to until only 3 cups of water are left.
  6. Drink ¾ cup of this soursop leaf  once in a day for back pain relief.

Note: Some people drink 1 cup (250 ml) of the soursop tea for back pain that they consume 3 times per day before each meal, because it hits the bloodstream faster.

Caution: Avoid soursop consumption by small children under the age of 2, and pregnant and nursing mothers. Over use of soursop can lead to soursop toxicity. Always consult your naturopath or health care provider for professional medical guidance.

soursop for back pain

Soursop for back pain

Make tea from soursop leaves for back pain:

Suffering back pain can be debilitating. And, it is a common malady these days for many people. You can use soursop leaves for back pain by using the leaves for soursop tea. It can be a good remedy to treat back pain, without the side effects that you risk from pharmaceutical medications used for pain management.

Note that you might see the leaves advertised as guanabana leaves, soursop leaves or graviola leaves. These are three different words for the same tree (and fruit).

The active ingredient is highly concentrated in the leaves, twigs and bark, so best to use these and not the soursop fruit.

Here’s how to use soursop leaves as a back pain remedy:

  1. Buy some air dried organic soursop leaves (also called graviola leaves) from Soursopstore.com
  2. Crush 5 large dried soursop leaves
  3. Boil 5 cups of water
  4. Drop leaves into water
  5. Reduce to until only 3 cups of water are left.
  6. Drink ¾ cup of this soursop leaf  once in a day for back pain relief.

Note: Some people drink 1 cup (250 ml) of the soursop tea for back pain that they consume 3 times per day before each meal, because it hits the bloodstream faster.

Caution: Avoid soursop consumption by small children under the age of 2, and pregnant and nursing mothers. Over use of soursop can lead to soursop toxicity. Always consult your naturopath or health care provider for professional medical guidance.

soursop cancer research

Soursop and cancer research

A summary of all the cancer research on soursop and its tumor-fighting properties

Soursop, also known as guanabana, graviola, cherimoya, custard apple, and Brazilian paw paw, is a little-known fruit that grows in the rainforests of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and South America. It comes from an evergreen tree (Annona muricata) where all parts have medicinal uses – the roots, bark, leaves, and fruit. 

The soursop cancer fighting  topic has recently made headlines. Medical research shows that compounds in the superfood can shrink and inhibit tumors. Here is all the most up-to-date information about this life-changing fruit.

Disclaimer: We present this information to help you make informed decisions. But at no time do we advocate that you change or discontinue treatment as prescribed by your doctor based on information in this article. We have provided sources to information gathered here and we recommend you use them to make up your own mind.

Active ingredients in soursop

The soursop is a large, heart-shaped edible fruit that grows in clusters on the Annona muricata. It is bright green in color, with small spikes on its skin. The active ingredient in the soursop fruit is thought to be annonaceous acetogenins, a phytochemical or plant compound. People can eat the sweet white pulp of the fruit plain or make it into smoothies, fruit drinks, sherbets, candies, shakes, syrups, and beverages.

The fruit has a sweet, citrusy flavor somewhere between a strawberry and a pineapple. People in countries where the Annona muricata grows naturally have used the soursop fruit for years for medicinal purposes.

Annona muricata and cancer treatmentAccording to the National Cancer Institute’s drug dictionary, annonaceous acetogenins is a family of polyketides that naturally occur in the plant family Annonaceae.

NCI states that the phytochemical isolated from various species of the plant family have potential antineoplastic and antimicrobial activity – meaning that they can bind to and block the activity of an enzyme that’s overexpressed in cancer cells’ plasma membranes (ubiquinone-linked NADH oxidase). In layman’s terms, annonaceous acetogenins can inhibit cancer cell growth and induce tumor cell death.

Research on soursop’s anticancer effects

According to a 2015 journal article in Contemporary Clinical Dentistry, “Cancer: Forbidden Cures?” researchers are primarily interested in the soursop because of its “strong anticancer effects.” Author S. G. Damle remarks on the interest of the fruit’s anti-tumor effects, and says the plant is a “proven cancer remedy for cancers of all types.” The article says that patients can use soursop as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent for infections, as well as for lowering blood pressure and treating depression and stress.

In “Graviola: A Systematic Review on Its Anticancer Properties” by European University Cyprus School of Medicine authors Patrikios Ioannis, Stephanou Anastasis, and Yiallouris Andreas, the authors discuss the connection between phytochemicals and easing various diseases, including cancer. The article states that the Graviola, along with its roots, leaves, and seeds has beneficial properties in alternative medicine. It cites many sources that indicate annonaceous acetogenins as the main active ingredients in soursop, and other published data that point to soursop’s ability to inhibit a variety of cancer cells, including:

Compounds in the fruit, leaves, stem, or bark of the soursop have anticancer characteristics that promote programmed cell death on cancer cells without harming healthy, normal host cells. This marks a great departure from traditional cancer treatments, which do not differentiate between which cells live or die. Studies show that annonaceous acetogenins found only in the Annonaceae family kill the malignant cells of 12 different types of cancer.

How does soursop fight cancer?

Based on medical research, soursop works to fight and inhibit malignant cancer cells in a variety of ways. When applied to breast cancer cells in a medical research study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, researchers found that the phytochemicals in the soursop promoted programmed cell death, or “apoptosis,” in pathways relating to the cancer cells. It decreased breast tumor growth in nude mice lab tests, while also inhibiting the expressions of two types of breast cancer cells – ER-cyclin D1 and Bcl-2. Extracts of the fruit inhibit the growth of overexpressing human cancer cells without interrupting non-tumorigenic breast cells.

Another study of the soursop fruit leaves from 2014 found that the leaves had “significant effects on cell survival potential” on colon cancer cells. The extract of the soursop leaves induced programmed cell death using reactive oxygen species while down-regulating anti-apoptotic proteins. This process released cytochrome c, which activated the trigger of programmed cancer cell death through DNA fragmentation. The soursop inhibited cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact and unaffected.

In BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, seven researchers conducted a medical study to determine the cancer-fighting effects of soursop extracts on human promyelocytic leukemia cells, or HL-60 cells. The results of the study concluded that all extracts tested did in fact inhibit the rapid reproduction of HL-60 cells in a “concentration dependent manner.”

How soursop kills leukemia cancer cells

The study discovered that the fruit inhibited the growth of leukemia cancer cells by disrupting matrix metalloproteinase (MMP), generating reactive oxygen species (ROS), and arresting the G0/G1 cell cycle. Other ways the soursop interrupts different types of cancer cells include inhibiting tumor mobility and cellular metabolism, down regulating the expression of cancer-related factors, and stopping tumors by inhibiting growth of cancerous cells.

What could soursop mean for the future of cancer medicine?

Dozens of medical research studies on soursop-derived compounds since at least the early 1970s have found evidence of the soursop’s ability to stop and fight cancer cells, thanks to the active ingredient annonaceous acetogenins. Studies on mice and humans have come to the same conclusion again and again – annonaceous acetogenins can and will have inhibited cancer cell growth and lead to programmed cancer cell death. Despite the large number of laboratory studies with cancer-fighting results, there are still doubts about the soursop’s capabilities in the industry.

Lack of research on how soursop extracts work on humans

Doubts stem from lack of research into exactly how the soursop’s extracts work on humans. As scientists develop their understanding of how annonaceous acetogenins work to fight cancer, the world can expect more information and possible acceptance of the soursop as a cancer-stopping superfood. If studies on the soursop continue in the same vein as they have for almost 50 years, there is high hope that the fruit of the evergreen tree will become an accepted potential cure for cancer – one that serves as an alternative or complement to existing cancer treatments.

Other medical uses for soursop

Known positive effects of the soursop exist without relation to cancer treatment. People have used the soursop to treat hypertension, arthritis, stomach problems, fevers, and infections (parasitic and bacterial). Soursop is known to ease endocrine system issues and to support healthy activity of the ovaries, prostate glands, thyroid, pancreas, kidneys, gall bladder, liver, and intestines. It also acts as an effective sedative. Anti-cancer properties are the latest believed benefits of the soursop, despite the topic currently being up for debate.

Dissenting opinions about soursop and its anticancer potency

As much as the research cited in this article is based on legitimate science and research, there are some organizations that disagree with the premise that soursop has anticancer properties. There are as follows:

  • “There is no evidence to show that graviola (soursop) works as a cure for cancer.” – Cancer Research UK
  • “…as yet, there have been no large scale tests on humans and there is no credible evidence to support claims that graviola is an effective cure or treatment for cancer” –Hoax-Slayer.com
  • “The fruit from the graviola tree is a miraculous natural cancer cell killer. UNDETERMINED.”-Snopes.com

The bottom line:  Eat your soursop or drink your soursop tea

Existing knowledge based on in-depth medical and scientific research studies supports the fact that extracts of the soursop can in fact inhibit the growth of cancer cells, potentially preventing, fighting, and even curing cancer. More research is necessary to identify the exact mechanisms of how soursop extracts work, as well as clinical trials to test and verify its potential as an anti-cancer agent. However, as of today, enough studies have shown anti-cancer properties in soursop to encourage thousands of people around the world to start introducing this fruit into their diets.

As excitement over the potential cancer-fighting properties of the soursop grows, the fruit and its extracts are becoming more easily available on the market. It is now easy to order farm-grown soursop fruit online and purchase related products such as organic soursop leaves for tea. People living in tropical climates with easy access to soursop fruit have consumed the fruit and its byproducts for centuries, accepting it as a superfruit that has beneficial properties for almost the entire body. Soursop is rich in vitamins and nutrients, as well as several antioxidants – not to mention the potential anti-cancer elements.

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the active ingredient in soursop fruits may be a real-life cure for cancer. The acetogenins found in the soursop are completely unique to this plant and widely studied as a treatment for multiple types of cancer. Perhaps the most exciting part about the discovery of soursop’s anti-cancer properties is that it leaves healthy cells untouched. As researchers learn more about how annonaceous acetogenins kill cancer cells, expect to hear more about this amazing “miracle” superfood. Soursop may be the key to curing cancer once and for all.

Sources for this article:

Cancer patient

Can soursop cure cancer?

Can soursop cure cancer like this cancer cell

Cancer cell close-up view

The debate about soursop as a cancer cure

Soursop has a long history of being used to fight cancer naturally. People who live in tropical climates and have readily accessible soursop fruit (guanabana) that’s grown locally. The tree is often found in people’s backyards.

The fruit tree’s leaves has long been used to make soursop tea. The raw fruit is also eaten daily in an effort to treat their cancer to beat the disease.


Caribbean Islanders similarly relate to soursop the way people from the Middle East relate to Black Seed Oil, which is said to “cure everything except death”.


If you ask any Caribbean islander, most know someone who has consumed soursop fruit, leaves or related graviola byproducts to cure cancer. Western medicine does not wholly support these claims, saying there is no absolute evidence that graviola or soursop works as a cure for cancer.

The claims are anecdotal, but there is some science that is showing promise to prove that soursop is a definitive cancer killer.

The science of soursop’s cancer fighting reputation

Claims that soursop – or graviola as some call it, or guanabana in Spanish – is an all natural cancer fighter has some basis in science and lab research.

The anti-cancer claims associated with soursop come from more than 20 laboratory studies. They have shown soursop extracts to be effective against killing a range of cancer cell lines, including:

  • breast cancer
  • lung cancer
  • colon cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • liver cancer
  • pancreatic cancer
  • skin cancer.
  • And many more types of cancer.

The studies show that soursop may have the ability to kill malignant cells in 12 different types of cancer. The active ingredient is thought to be a type of plant compound (phytochemical) called annonaceous acetogenins.

(Note that guanabana, soursop and graviola are all common words for the scientific name of the plant Annona muricata).

Although test-tube and animal research demonstrates that graviola may be an anti-cancer agent, there have been no clinical trials or studies in humans, and therefore the use of graviola for cancer treatment remains controversial and subject to much debate.

Researchers have examined graviola leaves, bark, seeds and fruit. What scientists do know is that soursop contains many active compounds and chemicals which have healing properties.

The curative magic of phytochemicals

At the heart of the cancer research is an examination of a compound group known as phytochemicals.

The phytochemical of interest to researchers is called asannonaceous acetogenins. Studies show that annonaceous acetogenins has potent anti-tumor properties. It exhibits selective toxic properties against tumor cells. Further clinical studies also demonstrated the powerful anti-cancerous, anti-tumorous, and antiviral properties of annonaceous acetogenins.

Recent studies have found that natural compounds of graviola, acetogenins have superb properties to inhibit the enzyme processes that are specifically present in membrane of cancerous cells. Through this mechanism of action they are toxic for cancerous cells and don’t create toxicity in healthy cells.

However, a word of caution,  no studies have yet been conducted with humans to show that soursop consumption is indeed an effective cancer inhibitor. That said, animal studies have shown extracts from the leaves can have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antidiabetic, antiulcer and antiviral effects.

Proof of soursop’s curative powers could come from clinical trials where cancer patients are treated with the fruit compounds. No have been conducted to date.

can Soursop kill these cancer cells

Soursop’s tumor killing abilities

Purdue University published a promising news article in 1997, that showed that Annonaceous acetogenins are effective in destroying tumor cells. And, it has the ability fight cells that have shown resistance to other anti-cancer agents.

The National Cancer Institute has also explored the toxic effects of Graviola against cancerous cells in a plant screening program in 1976. They discovered that the graviola stem and leaves demonstrated active toxic effects against cancer cells.

In various vitro clinical trials, specific phytochemical acetogenins have been found in Graviola.  They have selective toxic effects against various cancerous cells like:
  • lung carcinoma cell lines,
  • prostate adenocarcinoma
  • breast tumor lines
  • liver cancer cell lines
  • pancreatic carcinoma cell lines
  • colon adenocarcinoma cell lines
  • and multidrug resistant breast adenocarcinoma.
Other clinical findings by Taiwanese scientists show that at very low dosages, annonaceous acetogenins from graviola exhibited highly toxic effects particularly to ovarian, breast, cervical, bladder and skin cancer cell lines.

In laboratory studies, graviola extracts can also kill some types of liver and breast cancer cells that are resistant to particular chemotherapy drugs.

What’s the bottom line? Can soursop cure cancer?

It appears that consuming soursop may help cancer patients fight their disease, even if scientists have yet to definitively prove it.

How to fight cancer with soursop

Where to buy graviola or soursop products

Learn more about where to buy soursop and graviola products. Here is a good list, to get you started. Plus read on.

Soursop leaves

Wild, hand-picked and naturally organic soursop leaves are available here. They are sun-dried, organic and ready for tea making.

Order guanabana leaves now 

Fresh soursop fruit

Order fresh soursop fruit from our family farmers in Grenada (in the Caribbean), delivered to you in the US by air 2 days after picking:

Vacuum sealed soursop pulp in a jar

Available on Amazon. It has a shelf life of a year in its sealed glass container. See our Gfruit review.

Additional soursop and cancer resources: