The Lowdown on Graviola

Benefits, Uses, Side Effects and More

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Graviola is a natural substance sold in dietary supplement form. Sourced from the Annona muricata plant (a tree found in rainforests throughout Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia), it's sometimes referred to as "soursop." Long used in herbal medicine, graviola is said to offer a variety of health benefits.

Although preliminary studies show that graviola may possess a number of health-enhancing properties (including anti-inflammatory effects), there's also some evidence that certain compounds found in graviola may be harmful to the human nervous system.

Uses for Graviola

In alternative medicine, graviola is touted as a natural remedy for the following health problems:

In addition, graviola is said to protect against cancer, promote relaxation, stimulate digestion, and fight off infection.

When applied to the skin, graviola is thought to aid in the treatment of arthritis.

Benefits of Graviola

To date, few studies have tested the health effects of graviola. However, some preliminary research suggests that it may offer some health benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available studies on graviola:

1)  Cancer

A number of preliminary studies indicate that graviola may have anti-cancer benefits. In a study published in Cancer Letters in 2012, for instance, researchers found that certain compounds in graviola may inhibit the growth and spread of pancreatic cancer cells.

Additionally, a study published in Nutrition and Cancer in 2011 found that graviola may inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.

2)  Diabetes

Graviola shows promise in the treatment of diabetes, suggests a study published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines in 2008.

In tests on diabetic rats, the study's authors determined that graviola may help control diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels.

3)  Cold Sores

Graviola may help fight herpes simplex virus-1 (the virus that causes cold sores), according to a laboratory study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 1998.


Due to the lack of research, little is known about the side effects of long-term or regular use of graviola.

Studies show that alkaloids found in graviola may have harmful effects on the nervous system. A class of naturally occurring chemicals, alkaloids are mostly made up of nitrogen atoms.

In a report published in the journal Movement Disorders in 2002, for instance, scientists determined that alkaloids extracted from graviola may alter the function and survival of nerve cells and, in turn, possibly contribute to the development of movement disorders similar to Parkinson's disease.

Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated.

In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements here.

Alternatives to Graviola

Studies show that a number of natural substances may help protect against cancer. For example, maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D, drinking green tea regularly, and increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids may strengthen your cancer defense.

For help in fighting cold sores naturally, there's some evidence that lysine, lemon balm, reishi, and resveratrol may be beneficial.

Where to Find It

Widely available for purchase online, graviola is sold in some natural-foods stores and stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Using Graviola for Health

Due to the limited research and potentially harmful effects of consuming graviola, it cannot currently be recommended as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using it, it's crucial to consult your physician prior to using supplements containing this herb.


Adeyemi DO, Komolafe OA, Adewole OS, Obuotor EM, Adenowo TK. "Anti hyperglycemic activities of Annona muricata (Linn)." Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2008 Oct 25;6(1):62-9.

Dai Y, Hogan S, Schmelz EM, Ju YH, Canning C, Zhou K. "Selective growth inhibition of human breast cancer cells by graviola fruit extract in vitro and in vivo involving downregulation of EGFR expression." Nutr Cancer. 2011;63(5):795-801.

Jayadeepa RM, Gnanam R. "Anti Cancer Activity On Graviola, An Exciting Medicinal Plant Extract Vs Various Cancer Cell Lines And A Detailed Computational Study On Its Potent Anti-Cancerous Leads." Curr Top Med Chem. 2013 Jul 24.

Lannuzel A, Michel PP, Caparros-Lefebvre D, Abaul J, Hocquemiller R, Ruberg M. "Toxicity of Annonaceae for dopaminergic neurons: potential role in atypical parkinsonism in Guadeloupe." Mov Disord. 2002 Jan;17(1):84-90.

Padma P, Pramod NP, Thyagarajan SP, Khosa RL. "Effect of the extract of Annona muricata and Petunia nyctaginiflora on Herpes simplex virus." J Ethnopharmacol. 1998 May;61(1):81-3.

Torres MP, Rachagani S, Purohit V, Pandey P, Joshi S, Moore ED, Johansson SL, Singh PK, Ganti AK, Batra SK. "Graviola: a novel promising natural-derived drug that inhibits tumorigenicity and metastasis of pancreatic cancer cells in vitro and in vivo through altering cell metabolism." Cancer Lett. 2012 Oct 1;323(1):29-40.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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