Ingredients and Uses

Can Soursop Leaves Really Cure Cancer? – 6 Evidence-based Benefits Await You!

Reviewed By Registered Dietitian Madhu Sharma, Registered Dietitian
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Can Soursop Leaves Really Cure Cancer? – 6 Evidence-based Benefits Await You! Hyderabd040-395603080 September 9, 2019

The soursop plant is also named the miracle tree. Why? Due to its potent anti-cancer properties. Its biochemical composition is also said to be a thousandfold more effective than chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Sounds incredible, doesn’t it?

Find out if soursop leaves can indeed cure cancer. Also, can they help you in any other way? Are they really a safe alternative to synthetic drugs? Read on!

What Are Soursop Leaves? What Are They Good For?

What Are Soursop Leaves What Are They Good For Pinit

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Soursop (Annona muricata) a.k.a graviola or Brazilian paw-paw is a flowering evergreen tree. It is native to Central America, Mexico, Cuba, and parts of India – and is now widely distributed from southeastern China to Australia, Eastern, and Western Africa. Soursop can help treat cancer. There are claims that it is 10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy (1).

Traditional medicine uses soursop in treating several diseases and ailments. This plant is primarily known to treat inflammation, rheumatism, hypertension, diabetes, parasitic infections, and other similar conditions (2).

The soursop fruit is edible and holds good therapeutic value. It is popular as an anti-arthritic agent. Its extracts fight parasitic and worm infections. The leaves work on treating hypoglycemia and inflammation and also possess antispasmodic properties (2).

These properties can be attributed to the plant’s metabolites. Saponins, alkaloids, coumarins, terpenoids, tannins, and several other active phytochemicals have been identified in this miracle plant.

Want to know more about these wonderful claims? Then, you are at the right place! In this article, we’ve discussed the health benefits of soursop leaves extensively. Hop on and explore with us!

How Do Soursop Leaves Benefit Your Health?

The leaves of the soursop plant are well-known anti-inflammatory agents. They also have antipyretic, antimicrobial, antidiabetic, cardioprotective, and anti-parasitic properties. Soursop extracts, thus, positively affect the vital systems in your body.

1. Soursop Leaves Combat Cancer

Research has proven that soursop leaves fight cancer effectively. Studies demonstrate antiproliferative and cytotoxic effects of the soursop plant against cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, lung, blood, liver, cervix, ovary, the mouth, and the skin (3).

These active bioingredients are called annonaceous acetogenins (AGEs). These AGEs are involved in the anticancer properties of soursop. They kill cancer cells by inhibiting the mitochondrial complex I, a cancer cell protein (2).

This results in the generation of low energy (ATP). This is how soursop limits the ability of cancer cells to grow and spread.

Above all, this energy starvation is observed only in cancer cells that are treated with soursop extracts. Healthy cells remain almost unaffected (2).

This shows that soursop leaves can be used as a natural alternative to anticancer drugs.

2. Control Inflammation

Soursop leaves are used in different forms to treat various inflammatory disorders. Several rat studies show their wound-healing, painkilling, and antioxidant effects (4), (5).

The decoction of the leaves is applied topically for its anti-rheumatic and neuralgic effects. It also reduces/heals abscesses and wounds. Leaf extracts can relieve inflammatory conditions like cystitis, rheumatism, arthritic pain, fever, diarrhea, dysentery, malaria, parasites, and skin rashes (4).

Soursop leaf extract inhibits inflammatory mediators like IL-6, TNF-α, IL-1β, and nitric oxide (NO). A dose of 100 g/kg of this extract proved to be anti-nociceptive (blocking pain) in rats.

Not only that, but soursop leaves can also heal ulcers, lesions, open wounds, and edema with almost no toxicity (4).

3. Help Treat Insomnia

3. Help Treat Insomnia Pinit

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In the Netherlands, soursop leaves are put into pillow slips to promote sound sleep. Teas brewed out of these leaves are also known to induce sleep (6).

The leaves have a smooth muscle relaxant activity and act as sedatives. As you sip on a glass of soursop leaf tea, be sure of a good night’s sleep, free from stress (7).

4. Regulate Diabetes

Daily administration of 100 mg/kg of aqueous soursop extract to mice exhibited strong glycemic control (8).

Prolonged soursop treatment (for 28 days) in mice reduced blood glucose levels and serum creatinine levels. It also balanced the activity of liver enzymes (AST, ALT, etc.). The levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides were also restored (8).

This plant extract also restored the activity of antioxidant enzymes  (superoxide dismutase, catalase, etc.) in rats (8).

That said, the fruit may have better anti-diabetic properties than the leaves. Hence, we suggest you consult with your doctor.

5. Possess Antiviral Properties

Soursop extracts show antiviral properties against selective viruses. The plant interferes with the replication of HIV in the host cells. Also, these extracts keep the virus from attaching to the host cell. The bark and stem extracts of soursop were noted to act against herpes simplex virus (HSX) (7).

This demonstrates the virucidal effect of soursop. Its polyphenols are the reason behind this activity (7).

6. Protect From Dental Pathogens

Soursop’s leaves were found to be bactericidal and fungicidal. They inhibited the growth of Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus mitis, Porphyromonas gingivalis, and Candida albicans (9).

These strains were found to cause periodontitis, gingivitis, and other oral diseases. Lab experiments report a dose-dependent antimicrobial effect of the leaves. They were most potent against the fungus Candida albicans. These results show the potency of soursop leaves in treating oral disorders (9).

In the future, the leaves could also be used to treat oral cancers and chronic dental complaints.

All thanks to their power-packed phytochemical profile! Soursop leaves can offers these benefits because of their strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power.

We will discuss a little more about that in the next section. Take a look!

Phytochemical Composition Of Soursop Leaves

Soursop plants have several kinds of phytochemicals, including alkaloids, phenolics, and terpenoids. However, a few species of soursop are rich sources of annonaceous acetogenin compounds (AGEs). AGEs are considered crucial for their antimicrobial, antiprotozoal, antiviral, and anthelmintic properties (10).

Annomuricin, annomutacin, annohexocin, muricapentocin, anonaine, isolaureline, xylopine, gallic acid, epicatechin, quercetin, catechin, chlorogenic acid, kaempferol, annonamine, norcorydine, vomifoliol were identified in these leaves (10).

They also contain rutin, blumenol, solamin, epomuricenin, reticuline, coreximine, coclaurine, stepharine, atherosperminine, and anomuricine in them. The seeds, fruits, roots, and other aerial parts have these (and a few other) phytochemicals in varying proportions (10).

Soursop leaf oils also contain sesquiterpenes. The most abundant compound is β-caryophyllene. These volatile oils have β-pinene, germacrene-D, α-pinene, βelemene, δ-cadinene, epi-α-cadinol, and α-cadinol (10).

A cognitive effect of all these phytochemicals results in the list of benefits you just finished reading. You must be wondering how to experience these benefits.

You may find some ideas in the next section. Scroll down!

How To Use Soursop Leaves

The best way to use these leaves is to brew tea with them. This is because we’re not sure how safe it is to ingest raw soursop leaves. There is almost no information on this aspect.

Does that mean you have to brew its tea only in a certain way? Well, not really. You can brew it in two ways. Here’s how!

How To Use Soursop Leaves Pinit

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1. Regular Brew For Flavor

  1. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of your favorite soursop tea blend to a teapot. You can find a good one here.
  2. Add boiling water and let it steep for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Strain the leaves.
  4. Serve hot/warm or cold.

If you are using whole soursop leaves,

  1. Use 2-3 soursop leaves for one to two cups of tea. You can buy the leaves here.
  2. Set a pot of boiling water ready.
  3. Add these leaves to water and let them simmer for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Strain the leaves before serving.

If you want to skip through these steps, just get the soursop tea bags here. Dip and enjoy!

2. Prolonged Brew For Health

  1. Set up a boiling pot with 1 liter of cold water.
  2. Add the whole soursop leaves or the soursop blend.
  3. Bring the water to a boil.
  4. Boil it uncovered until the water has been reduced by half.
  5. Turn off the heat, and let the tea steep for about 20 minutes.
  6. Drink it hot/warm/at room temperature.

To make it taste better, add about half a teaspoon of lime juice, 2-3 mint leaves, and some honey (if you want it sweet).

There is no set dose for soursop tea yet. Neither are there any reports of toxicity. Animal studies showed no signs of toxicity – even at doses as high as 2 g/kg (11).

However, we suggest you talk to your healthcare provider about the dosage.

Conclusion

Most of the studies done are in vitro and need to be studied on humans to establish positive results. Also, there is no evidence of a patented preparation of this extract. Hence, consult a healthcare professional before consuming soursop.

Once they give the go-ahead, you can brew a small batch of soursop leaf tea using any of our recipes. Experience the phytonutrients get to work! If you have any queries, suggestions, or feedback, do write to us by leaving a comment in the box below.

References

  1. Anti-microbial Efficacy of Soursop Leaf Extract (Annona muricata)…” Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, US National Library of Medicine.
  2. Potential Benefits of Annona muricata in Combating Cancer: A Review” The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, US National Library of Medicine.
  3. Anticancer Properties of Graviola (Annona muricata): A Comprehensive…” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, US National Library of Medicine.
  4. Exploring the Leaves of Annona muricata L. as a Source of…” Frontiers in Pharmacology, US National Library of Medicine.
  5. Annona muricata leaves accelerate wound healing in rats…” International Journal Of Surgery, US National Library of Medicine. “Soursop” Horticulture & Landscape Agriculture, College of Agriculture, Purdue University.
  6. Annona muricata: Is the natural therapy to most disease conditions…”  Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, Elsevier, Academia.
  7. Antidiabetic and antioxidant effects of Annona muricata…” Journal  of Ethnopharmacology, US National Library of Medicine.
  8. Anti-microbial Efficacy of Soursop Leaf Extract (Annona muricata)…” Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, US National Library of Medicine.
  9. Annona muricata (Annonaceae): A Review of Its Traditional Uses…” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, US National Library of Medicine.
  10. The Chemopotential Effect of Annona muricata Leaves against Azoxymethane…” Research Article, PLoS ONE.
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Swathi Handoo

Swathi holds a Master’s degree in Biotechnology and has worked in places where actual science and research happen. Blending her love for writing with science, Swathi writes for Health and Wellness and simplifies complex topics for readers from all walks of life.And on the days she doesn’t write, she learns and performs Kathak, sings Carnatic music compositions, makes plans to travel, and obsesses over cleanliness.