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Graviola (Annona muricata)

Miracle cancer cure?

 graviola fruit

This is an instance where, if the apocryphal stories are true, one of the greatest discoveries of the century is being suppressed by ‘big pharma’ for the sake of profits and at the cost of many lives.

The story goes that a pharmaceutical company discovered the anti-cancer benefits of graviola during routine screening of rainforest plant extracts, and then spent 8 years trying to create a patentable drug based on the active compound they had identified. They failed, and then locked up the original research for a further 5 years, in order to keep it from rival pharmaceutical companies. The secret supposedly only 'came out' when a key researcher left the company and took up a new job.


That is the story - so how much of it is true?

The graviola tree is found in the Amazon rain forests. It grows to five or six metres, and herbal remedies derived from the bark, leaves, roots, fruit, seeds and flowers of graviola are used traditionally to treat everything from arthritis to liver problems.

Pulps made from the fruit and seeds are used for the elimination of intestinal parasites. Teas made from the root and the bark are used as sedatives and have been shown to help maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Research has now confirmed that graviola is an immune enhancer and has demonstrated dramatic activity against worms, some viruses and fungi. But what of the cancer 'cure'?

Research in vitro has also shown that several of the active ingredients (generically known as ‘annonaceous acetogenins’) very effectively kill malignant cells of 12 different types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, colon, prostate, liver, lung, pancreatic and lymphoma, without damaging normal cells. Recent research also confirmed that extracts from graviola leaves killed cancer cells 'among six human-cell lines' and were especially effective against prostate and pancreatic cancers. A separate study has demonstrated positive effects against lung cancer.

Another recent study carried out in South Korea has shown that the active compounds in graviola extracts have selective cytoxicity ‘comparable with’ Adriamycin, a drug historically used for breast and colon cancer, although a study published in the Journal of Natural Products claimed that graviola was possibly ‘10,000 times more effective’ (than Adriamycin). Yet another South Korean study has also shown that unlike Adriamycin, there was no negative effect on healthy cells, and a study carried out in 1997 concluded that graviola extract was effective against cancer cells which had survived classic chemotherapy by developing resistance to chemicals.

Interestingly, some research carried out recently on a relative of graviola, the North American paw paw (Asimina triloba) have indicated that the latter may have even stronger anti-tumour effects than graviola.

Graviola extracts both from rainforest graviola trees and from paw paw are obtainable on the internet and like essiac are not particularly expensive, and so may well be worth trying before or alongside conventional therapies. The anecdotal evidence is not particularly strong, but research seems to bear out the contention that extracts do indeed have anti-cancer activity, and as they are not harmful to healthy cells, should be reasonably safe to use (there may however be some liver toxicity). Far more formal research is required in order to confirm anti-cancer activity in vivo, and to quantify any effects, but because of the lack of patentability (and hence, potential profitability), such research is proceeding at a painfully slow pace.

It should be noted that graviola extracts are likely to kill a large proportion of beneficial intestinal bacteria, and it is suggested that it is not taken for longer than a month or so, and that a course of probiotic capsules should be taken in order to re-establish as far as possible the gut flora.

(If you have personal experience of using graviola, we would like to hear from you with a view to adding your story to this page. Please email us using the ‘contact’ link at the bottom of the page.)

More on graviola HERE

See also Agaricus and Aloe vera for natural extracts that offer some promise for cancer sufferers, and DCA, Essiac, and Vitalethine in this section (see menu).



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