GUANABANA or GRAVIOLA
THE NATURAL PHARMACY
by Rosemary MacGregor RN, MS
GUANABANA is not a mix of Guava and Banana, but rather a member of the species MURICATA, family Annonaceae, and genus, Annonna. This includes: Guanabana or Graviola, Sour Sop, Custard Apple, Cheimoya, Paw Paw, Anoni and Durian. The Guanabana tree stands 5 – 6 meters high with large dark green, glossy leaves. Growing right off the trunk are these large, heavy (up to several pounds) spiky, heart-shaped fruit. In Costa Rica you will see the fruit being tied to the tree with striped plastic bags to allow the fruit to ripen. The very thin, inedible, leathery skin easily peels off to reveal a large mass of cream colored, fibrous flesh surrounding between 30 – 200 black-brown seeds.
One can eat the fleshly covered seeds in this natural condition or you can purchase the flesh in the refrigerated section of many grocery stores, or in packages for making “frescas”. Guanabana is used to make gourmet ice cream, sorbets, smoothies or as a desert. The fruit is high in Vitamins B1, B2, and C.
All parts (seeds, bark, twigs, roots, fruit and leaves) of Guanabana have been used as a natural medicine through out Central and South America. Scientists at Perdue University have been studying its properties since the 1940’s. Much of the focus has been on a set of phytochemicals called annonaceous acetogenins, which are found in the leaf, bark and twig tissues of the plant and unique to Annonaceae family. The main properties of these acetogenines are anti-tumorous, anticancerous, antimalarial, immosuppressive, pesticidal and anti-microbial.
The research has shown that these unique acetogenines have a special affinity for killing drug resistant tumors, especially in Colon and Prostate cancers. Following chemotherapy, approximately 2 % of cancer cells can be drug resistant and it is these cancer cells that eventually grow and become drug resistant. One study demonstrated that an acetogenin in Guanabana selectively killed colon adenocarcinoma and proved to be 10,000 times the potency of adriamycin (a chemotherapy drug). These acetogenins have no effect on normal healthy cells. To date scientists have isolated over 40 Annona compounds with these properties and they are in various stages of attempting to patent them. Reproducing them has not proven effective and natural products cannot be patented.
While used for many issues in different countries,
• For all types of cancer
• As a broad spectrum internal and external antimicrobial to treat bacterial and fungal infections
• For internal parasites and worms
• To lower high blood pressure
• For depression, stress and nervous orders
The traditional remedy used by the various natives in the West Indies, Central and South America is: one-half cup leaf infusion or bark decoction 1-3 times daily or 1-3 ml of A 4:1 tincture twice daily or 2-5 grams of powdered leaves in tablets of capsules twice daily. Using the seeds and roots is not recommended at this time. Also, avoid taking Coenzyme Q10 when taking graviola as they work to create opposite effects on ATP. Large doses may cause nausea and vomiting. Avoid with pregnancy, with low blood pressure, supplement with probiotics and digestive enzymes if using for over 30 days. Side effects can occur with anti-depressant drugs, MAO-inhibitors or cardiac anti-hypertensive drugs. Please consult with your doctors when taking this plant medicine.