Annona muricata, also called graviola tree, guanaba or guanavana, Brazilian paw paw, or corossol, is native to rainforests and other areas that have high humidity and warm winters.
You may also hear it called soursop, though that name refers to the fruit, rather than the entire tree. As you can guess from the name, the fruit tastes rather sour, and it also has hints of pineapple and strawberry flavors.
This nutrient-packed fruit has white flesh and yellowish-green skin. The peel has spikes, and the fruit as a whole has a heart-like shape.
Soursop is like other fruit in that it’s got a lot of natural sugar and carbohydrates, as well as a respectable amount of vitamin C. However, it also has vitamins B1 and B2 (a.k.a. thiamine and riboflavin, respectively), making it a particularly good fruit to add to your diet.
Soursop fruit and graviola leaves and seeds also have traditional medical uses. The seeds, when crushed, are thought to soothe muscle spasms, and they’re also thought to ward off bugs like lice and bedbugs. The crushed seeds also are used as a skin astringent.
The leaves of the graviola tree have a wide range of traditional uses. The leaves are part of treatments for joint inflammation and arthritis, nasal and respiratory inflammation, and eczema. They may also be used in sedatives.
Soursop fruit juice can have a diuretic effect, as well as anti-dysentery effects as well. The levels of vitamin C, of course, mean the juice is used to treat scurvy.
Other parts of the tree have traditionally been used to treat diabetes.
Mice studies done in the lab offer real optimism for extracts from the graviola tree, in particular the extracts from the leaves, seeds, and fruit. It is possible that one day these extracts could form the basis for a treatment to limit, if not stop, cancer cells from spreading.
What researchers are looking at are compounds called Annonaceous acetogenins, and ongoing research from Purdue University and the National Institutes of Health has already resulted in some interesting findings.