Graviola, or Annona Muricata (Soursop)
Fact or Fiction?
At icon we pride ourselves on the quality of our research. Unfortunately with Graviola (which is sometimes called Soursop) it is difficult to get much hard evidence, rather than just very generalised reports of effect.
Fact? Extracts from Graviola, annona muricata, have been shown in research to inhibit the Herpes Simplex virus, and to have anti-viral, anti-parasitic, anti-rhumatic and cytoxic effects. In research (J Med Chem1997, 40: 2102-6) activity against multi-drug resistant cancer cells was shown, and cytoxic ability has been shown with a number of cancer cell lines, particularly prostate and pancreatic cancers.
Fiction? One story goes that a pharmaceutical company discovered the anti-cancer benefits of Graviola and spent eight years trying to form a patentable drug. They failed. They then locked up their findings and their work for a further 5 years, to keep it from rivals. The secret only came out when a key scientist moved away from the company.
What we do know is that indigenous peoples from the Amazon jungle call it the miracle tree. Regular readers may remember our report on Neem, dubbed the local pharmacy in India.
Local populations have used the tree for thousands of years to treat everything from arthritis to liver problems
The Graviola tree grows five to six metres in height, and is native to South America particularly around the Amazon basin. It is also found in places such as Polynesia. The common names are Graviola, Soursop or (Brazilian) Paw Paw, but others include guanabana, cherimoya and custard apple. It is related to the fruit Durian in South East Asia which is claimed to have many health properties.
Local populations have used the tree bark, leaves, roots, fruit, seeds and flowers for thousands of years to treat everything from arthritis to liver problems.
For example, the fruit and seeds are used for intestinal health and the elimination of parasites. Women eat paw paw to increase lactation; teas made from root and bark help as a sedative or nerve tonic and can maintain healthy glucose levels. In Polynesia teas elevate mood and reduce depression. Almost certainly, like Noni and Aloe Vera, a high polysaccharide content is responsible for many of its effects. Phytochemical alkaloids are active too.
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The FDA has approved Graviola for use only to support immune function.
However, we found research and clinical references to a number of health benefits. For example:
Sedative? (Bourne RR. West Indian Med J 1979 28:2); or,
Immune boosting? (Wu FE various J Nat Prod 1995 June).
A number of studies comes from Purdue University in America where, to date, $5 million of public funds has been spent on studies.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center on its website covers a number of benefits: Besides apparently slowing cancer, they cover clinical research showing graviola fights viruses, kills parasites, reduces inflammation, and reverses pre-diabetes states.
The Cancer Cure?
Several of the active ingredients kill malignant cells of 12 different types of cancer
Until recently, in vitro research indicated that several of the active ingredients (Annonaceous acetogenins) kill malignant cells of 12 different types of cancer including breast, ovarian, colon, prostate, liver, lung, pancreatic and lymphoma.
Originally listed by the National Cancer Institute in the USA in 1976, it was not until 1995 that work gained any momentum.
By 2008 the NCI supported the Purdue research, which confirmed that extracts from Graviola leaves killed cancer cells among six human-cell lines and were especially effective against prostate and pancreatic cancers. Another study showed their effect against lung cancer.
Other studies, this time by the Catholic University in South Korea has shown that the active ingredients have selective cytoxicity comparable with Adriamycin, a drug historically used for breast and colon cancer. A further study published in the Journal of Natural Products claimed Graviola was 10,000 times more effective; a third study from South Korea showed that, unlike Adriamycin, there was no negative activity on healthy cells; whilst a fourth study from Purdue (1997) stated that many cancer cells which survive classic chemotherapy by developing resistance to chemicals, were attacked none-the-less by the Graviola agents.
Dr Jerry McLaughlin, Purdue´s lead researcher says that many cancer cells, over time, develop a P-glycoprotein pump to expel the chemotherapy agent before it can work. However Annona chemicals bypass this and kill the cancer cell. Dr McLaughlin has a number of videos published on the web (yes, you have to pay for them) about his findings.
All in all, Purdue researchers have found dramatic activity against worms, some viruses, fungi and many cancer cell lines.
Nutrition and Cancer, June 2011, covered research from scientists at Virginia Tech showing that phytochemicals in Graviola could reduce the growth of breast cancer. And in mice given Graviola fruit extract for five weeks there was a ´significant reduction in protein expression in breast cancer tumors´. Overall, graviola extract reduced tumour growth by 32 per cent.
In October 2012, Cancer Letter, a team from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center showed that Graviola killed pancreatic cancer cells both in test tubes and in animals and humans.
The researchers showed Graviola inhibits signaling pathways and this led to a decrease in the rate of cancer cell division and growth, also slowing metastases.
There is also research (Roman G; Curr. Op. Neurology 1998; 11:539) that Graviola can stimulate seratonin receptors. This may provide anti-depressive benefits.
It is also one of the active ingredients of a cancer treatment known as ´Black Salve´
How to Take
Various reputable outlets supply original Graviola extract on the web
A little complication is that American research is now claiming that the American Paw Paw is far more effective than all the others (Ed: But of course!), but various reputable outlets supply original Graviola extract on the web. The best to take is probably the one where the active ingredient is a more absorbable, tincture format.
However, beware taking the herb long term (e.g. over 30 days) as it may kill the helpful bacteria in the intestine. Results on this are inconclusive.
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At last - the definitive, research-based book on how to build a diet to help beat cancer. Click here to read about it.
Please be clear: At CANCERactive we do not consider the above compound to be a cure for cancer, despite what the research says or experts doing the research may claim. The above, is an article on the compound from published research and expert opinion in the public domain. At CANCERactive we do not believe that any single compound (drug, vitamin, whatever) is a cure for cancer. We believe that people can significantly increase their personal odds of survival by building an Integrated Programme of treatments. Equally, cancer prevention is best practiced through a width of measures.