Vesagas: Guyabano - Nature’s weapon against cancer

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Monday, August 15, 2011

THE soursop, or more commonly known in the Philippines as Guyabano, is a broadleaf flowering ever green tree whose fruit is believed to have a number of healthful benefits.

In the scientific world, the soursop is called Annona muricata.

Although the sight of Guyabano is too typical in the Philippines, it is actually native to Central America, Caribbean, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Velenzuela.


According to experts, Guyabano was introduced in the Philippines from Mexico via the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade centuries ago. This probably explains why it is known as Guanabana in Spanish and Graviola in Portuguese.

In several Malay cultures, Guyabano is termed Mullaatha, which literally means thorny custard apples due to its spike-like appearance. But there is something more than meets the eye.

According to nutritionists, the fruit of Guyabano is high in carbohydrates, vitamin C, vitamins B1 and B2. It also has a host of medicinal benefits.

Alternative medical practitioners claim that the leaves of Guyabano have antiemetic properties that can be used in the treatment of vomiting. Its decoction is also considered effective for head lice and bed bugs while the crushed leaves are said to promote healing on skin eruptions when applied topically.

Other experts share that the juice of the fruit can be taken orally to provide relief from urethritis, hematuria and liver problems.

In 1976, a group of experts from the National Cancer Institute conducted a study about Guyabano and it was found that the leaves of the said fruit were effective in attacking and destroying malignant cells. After such a breakthrough in medical science, 20 independent laboratory researches followed with similar results.

A recent study published by the Journal of Natural Products conducted at the Catholic University of South Korea found that one chemical in Guyabano had been found to selectively kill colon cancer cells at 100,000 times compared to that of a certain chemotherapy drug while leaving healthy cells untouched.

This likely explains the proliferation of Guyabano food supplements in the market. However, there are experts who are not convinced that the food supplement forms of Guyabano is able to harness the latter’s medicinal properties.

According to a group or researchers from Cancer Research UK , there is no direct correlation in terms of medicinal properties of the fruit Guyabano and several Guyabano food supplements that are out in the market. As a matter of fact, they even dropped a certain brand name which they believed were purely placebo in effect and called for its ban in United Kingdom.

In a research carried out in the Caribbean, the only drawback they have discovered with Guyabano is its association to Parkinson’s disease due to the fruit’s high concentration of annonacin.

Neurological research suggests that annonacin is closely linked to brain lesions that are consistent with Parkinson’s disease.

And if you think Guyabano is all about medicine, then think again.

In culinary endeavors, the Guyabano fruit can be used to make delectable cakes, ice cream, food flavorings and beverages.

Culinary experts describe the taste of Guyabano from their perspective as a combination of strawberry and pineapple with sour citrus flavor.

The liberty to choose lies in everybody’s hands. While no one will argue the science of medicine, still, there will always be that alternative options from which anyone can avail of. After all, modern-day science may have its roots from traditional thoughts too.

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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 16, 2011.


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