Soursop fruit looks like a custard apple but its flesh resembles the flesh of a jack-fruit. The scientific name of soursop is Annona muricata and the fruit is recognized by various names in various countries, for example, graviola in Portugal and guanábana in Spain. The taste of the soursop fruit is slightly sour and it comes with a flavor that can be described as a combination of the flavor of pineapple and strawberry. Its skin is spiny, but its flesh is juicy and delicious.
More studies are required to prove the medicinal properties of this fruit so that it can be used in cancer medication. But consumption of limited amount of soursop is not harmful for health, cancer patients can consume the fruit regularly and can enjoy its health benefits. The seeds are not edible but the fruit pulp carries several medicinal properties.
Health Benefits of Soursop
- The fibrous flesh of soursop helps improve digestive health. Cancer patients suffer from several digestive system problems like constipation, indigestion, due to strong medicines, chemotherapy drugs, etc. Such problems can be naturally relieved by consumption of fibrous fruits. Raw soursop can be used as a vegetable, just like raw jack-fruit.
- Experts believe that regular use of this fruit can cure cancer (when detected in earlier stage). Soursop supplements are also available in market. Soursop benefits for cancer involve killing of cancer cells without damaging the healthy cells. So it can be a good alternative for chemotherapy. But unless and until such properties are proved scientifically, we cannot accept them as facts. Still, consumption of the fruit can definitely prove to be helpful for cancer patients. But excessive consumption should be avoided.
- Along with the fruits, the bark, leaves and roots of the soursop trees are popularly used as ingredients in various traditional herbal medicines. Soursop leaves health benefits include calming the nerves. Tea prepared with the leaves works as a pain reliever. The sap of its leaves, or the flesh, can be applied topically to get rid of eczema, skin rash and swelling. Topical application promotes fast healing of wounds and prevents infections.
- Cancer and its treatment (like chemotherapy) result in weak immune system. Patients are more likely to catch infections. Vitamin C in the fruit is an antioxidant vitamin that helps strengthen the immune system and helps prevent infections like urinary tract infection, cough and cold.
- Chemotherapy results in low blood count. Soursop provides iron and thus, can improve the RBC count. It also contains riboflavin which helps relieve headache. Thiamine from the fruit helps boost energy levels. Cooper present in it helps maintain the bone health by promoting absorption of calcium from ingested food.
- Soursop juice works great for liver disorders. It is believed that it can reduce inflammation of the urethra and thus, can lower symptoms like painful urination.
- Soursop tea is used to treat gallbladder diseases. The extract obtained from the leaves and stems is believed to be effective in destroying cancer cells. Besides, soursop consumption can be beneficial as it does not exhibit side effects (when consumed in restricted quantity).
- Some study reports show that the chemical present in soursop is almost 10000 times more powerful than Adriamycin, the drug used during chemotherapy and so it can be beneficial, if used to destroy colon cancer cells (without causing damage to healthy cells).
- Studies show that soursop is beneficial in treating nearly twelve different types of cancer, including most common cancers like colon, breast, lung, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer. It was also noticed that the immune system of the cancer patients who consumed soursop during chemotherapy cycles was not affected or weakened much, as compared to other cancer patients.
Since soursop is rich in sugar, it should be consumed in restricted quantity. Moreover, excessive consumption of the fruit may contribute to neurological damage leading to the development of Parkinson's disease, as it is high in annonacin. It is true that one cannot rely upon the results of one or two studies about the use of soursop as cancer medication.
No one would recommend use of the fruit as an alternative for chemotherapy, but cancer patients can consume soursop to reap its health benefits along with chemotherapy. It can at least lower the side effects of chemotherapy. And if it kills cancer cells naturally, then it's well and good. Cancer patients are advised to consult an oncologist or health care provider before opting for the fruit. The doctor will explain how much soursop would be sufficient for reaping its health benefits.