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Graviola

graviola_tree


Graviola (Annona muricata) is a small evergreen tree found in the rain forests of both South and North America. This plant is well-known in herbal medicine and has several names: Soursop, Brazilian Paw Paw, Guanabana. It can grow up to 5-6 meters high and has large, shining, dark-green leaves and delicious fruits. These are known locally as paw paw, but are not identical to the true paw paw (Asimina triloba), a North American species. These fruits latter are heart-shaped, have regular small protuberances (unlike the relatively smooth 'true' paw paw fruit) and are approximately 15-20 cm in diameter.

Graviola has been widely used by indigenous population to treat a number of illnesses and diseases. The inhabitants of the Peruvian Andes, for example, make tea from Graviola leaves for catarrh and eat crushed seeds to kill parasites and bacteria. The Peruvian Amazon tribes consider the roots, leaves, and bark of the tree to have sedative and antispasmodic properties.

Graviola acts as an antidepressant due to the novel alkaloids (annonaceous acetogenins) found in the seeds and roots and to a much lesser extent in the tree bark, leaves and fruit pulp. However these alkaloids may be toxic to the nervous system, and it has been suggested that they may cause a form of Parkinson disease. One important chemical compound found in the fruits is a serotonin uptake inhibitor that produces feelings of joy.

Serious clinical studies on annonaceous acetogenins derived from Graviola and related species such as Paw Paw have been carried out since the 1940s. Most of them have documented anti-tumorous, anti-parasitic, anti-viral, hypotensive, and antidepressive properties, and a unique degree of anti-cancerous and anti-tumorous activity.  More than 34 compounds of this group have been identified.

Different research groups have confirmed that acetogenins are powerful inhibitors of enzyme processes that are only found in the membranes of cancerous cellsthese chemicals, resulting in selective toxicity against various types of cancer cells while not harming healthy cells.  In 1997, Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana reported that Annonaceous acetogenins “not only are effective in killing tumors that have resistant to anti-cancer agents, but also seem to have a special affinity for such resistant cells."

 

For more on graviola - please see HERE

Also see Paw Paw HERE

 

 

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