Soursop

Annona muricata (Annonaceae)

Characteristics

Evergreen tree, up to 10 m. Young branches hairy. Broad oval leaves, 5-18 cm long, 2-7 cm wide. Fruits dark green and prickly, can be up to 30 cm long, edible, slightly acidic taste when ripe (“Soursop”).

Distribution

Exact origin is unknown. Native to the tropical regions of the Americas and the Carribean. Today widely propagated in the tropics and subtropics of the world.

Natural Medical Properties

Soursop is often used in traditional medicine. Research has shown that it is antimalarial, uterine stimulant, anticrustacean, antiparasitic, cytotoxic (acerogenins), cardiac depressant, anti-amoebic, antibacterial, antifungal, hypertensive, spasmogenic, vasodilator, insecticide, smooth muscle relaxant.

The plant contains is quinoline alkaloids including reticuline.

The seed contains galactomannan, sitosterol, stigmasterol and cholesterol.

The leaves are antispasmodic, calmative, narcotic.

The crushed leaves are used as a remedy for distension and dyspepsia, scabies and skin diseases, rheumatism, coughs and colds.

A decoction, often combined with Ludwigia erecta, is used to treat hypertension and heart conditions such as palpitations.

A decoction of the leaves combined with the leaves of avocado (Persea americana) is drunk as an antihypertensive.

The leaves may also be used to make a decoction, which is taken orally with salt for digestive tract ailments and to relieve fatigue.

The pungent leaves are well-known for their sleep-inducing properties – they can be taken in an infusion, or simply placed under the pillow.

Applied externally, the crushed leaves are used to maturate boils and abscesses.

A massage of the leaves is good for remedying nervous shock.

The fruit is antiscorbutic, febrifuge, mildly anti-dysenteric and a good vermifuge.

It is used to treat bedwetting in children.

A decoction is used to remedy excess foot and hand perspiration.

The fruit is used to make a tonic that is used for treating fever, headache, hypertension, and heart problems.
A crushed leaf and seed decoction is taken orally for intestinal malaise.
The leaves and bark are cardiotonic and sedative.

A decoction is used for treating anxiety attacks.

The green bark is rubbed on wounds to stop bleeding.
Flower or flower bud tea is mixed with honey for colds, chest pain and nerve disorders.
The bark and young fruits, which contain tannin, are used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery.

The green bark is rubbed on wounds to stop bleeding.
The seed is an ingredient in a remedy for treating convulsions.

Did you know?

Soursop (sometimes as “Graviola”) is closely related (same genus) to “Cherimoya” (Annona cherimola) and “Custard apple” (Annona reticulata). Soursop is used as an alternative cancer treatment, but there is no medical evidence it is effective

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species