Top photo: This
young Graviola tree will grow to a height of five or six meters. All
parts of the tree and its fruit (bottom photo) are used for
medicinal purposes throughout the Amazon basin.
Soursop, Graviola, Brazilian Paw Paw
Leaf and fruit
Graviola is a small tree growing five to six meters in height with
large dark green and glossy leaves. It is indigenous to most of the
warmest tropical areas in South America, including the Amazon Basin. It
produces a fruit the size of a large cantaloupe with a delicious white
Graviola has a long history of use by Indigenous people of the Amazon
Basin who use all parts of the Graviola tree -- the bark, leaves,
roots, fruits and seeds -- for various ailments. For example, the fruit
and seeds are used for intestinal health, namely to eliminate
intestinal parasites and for stomach and bowel discomforts. Women also
eat paw paw (the fruit of Graviola) or drink its juice to increase
lactation. Teas are made from the Graviola root, bark and leaves as a
sedative and a nerve tonic, as well as to help maintain healthy glucose
levels. In other parts of the world, such as the Polynesian Islands,
Graviola tea is consumed daily to elevate mood and increase quality of
life. Graviola tea taken orally or applied on the skin is also used as
an insect repellent.
Indigenous people crush Graviola leaves and blend the oozing oil from
the leaves with the Graviola fruit. This preparation is used topically
for the alleviation of muscle and joint pain.
its medicinal use, Graviola fruit is eaten regularly throughout South
America as a delicious and refreshing fruit during a hot summer day.
Studies - Mechanism of Action
Many of the indigenous applications of Graviola have been substantiated
by science, and further exceptional properties have been discovered.
nerve tonic, calming and mood elevating properties of Graviola have
been demonstrated through several studies. The calming effect on the
whole body has been linked to the ability of Graviola leaf extract to
lower blood pressure.
the fruit was shown to contain a serotonin uptake inhibitor. Serotonin
is a neurotransmitter involved in the experience of joy. When serotonin
is released at the synaptic level, stimulating the post-synaptic
neuron, the effect of serotonin is stopped by recapturing serotonin
within the pre-synaptic terminal. This process is called :"reuptake." A
way of enhancing the "joy system" in the brain and alleviating mood
swings is to increase the concentration of serotonin in the synaptic
cleft by blocking the reuptake of serotonin. Compounds that block this
process are called "serotonin reuptake inhibitors," commonly referred
to as SRI. Several common medications are SRI. Another way to increase
the joy system is to consume compounds that mimic serotonin, acting in
the brain like serotonin. An extract from the Graviola fruit was shown
to contain three compounds that act like serotonin in the brain.
interesting application of Graviola, well known by Indigenous people,
is its ability to repel insects. In 1988 a patent was filed describing
the insecticidal properties of annonin, a natural compound present in
Graviola. Since then, shampoo and skin care products have been
developed for the management of lice.
claim to fame of Graviola is its cytotoxic properties, which means its
ability to kill cells. Cytotoxic often refers to the ability to kill
cells that are not functioning properly and which can put the whole
body at risk. More than 34 cytotoxic compounds have been isolated from
Graviola, some of them being up to 100 million times more potent than
commonly used cytotoxic compounds. The Dietary Supplement Health and
Education Act (DSHEA) prevents making health claims. Therefore, one
cannot recommend using the cytotoxic properties of Graviola for the
treatment of any disease. However, given the demonstrated properties of
Graviola, and given the role of the immune system in eliminating
dysfunctional cells, we can say that Graviola is a natural plant that
can support the functions of the immune system in an exceptional
BENEFITS AND USE OF GRAVIOLA
For a bug-free
hike in the woods!
To repel insects add some Graviola Extractt to a glass of juice or
water and drink it You can also put a small amount of extract in your
hand and rub your skin with it.
Taking Graviola Extractt daily will help maintain a good intestinal
Graviola contains components known to enhance the "serotonin joy
system" of the brain. Drink some Graviola Extractt in water daily or as
For Immune support
Taking Graviola daily will help support immune functions.
information contained in this article is intended for educational
purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or
prevent any disease. If you have any health concern, it is recommended
that you seek the advise of a certified health practitioner.
BSc., MSc., is a neurophysiologist with over 13 years research
experience in the fields of natural foods and nutrition. He is the
former Chief Scientist at Cell Tech where he directed research on Aphanizomenon
flos-aquae, and is currently Chief Scientist for Desert Lake
Technologies, Oregon. Mr. Drapeau received a BSc. in Neurophysiology
from McGill University, Montreal, and a MSc. from the Montreal
Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal.