Soursop, also called graviola, is a tropical fruit widely found in Central America, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and Africa. The fruit’s flavor is a combination of sweet and sour, reminiscent of the taste of strawberry and pineapple. The citrus-like sourness is a contrast to the creamy texture of the flesh. Soursop fruits grow on evergreen trees with oblong to oval dark green leaves, and depending on where it’s grown, it might also be called things like corossol, Prickly Custard Apple, Guyabano, Guanabana, Pawpaw fruit, Asimina triloba or Annona muricata.
While the aromatic fruit is a perfect ingredient for juice, ice cream, smoothies, and other beverages, the leaves are also traditionally valued for their medicinal properties. Actually, the entire tree, including the leaves, the bark, and even the root, has been used to cure a number of ailments. But in recent years, soursop leaves have been gaining a lot of popularity because of the powerful health benefits.
The medicinal properties of the leaves are often the result of the healthy compounds they contain, including vitamin C, annonacin, coreximine, adriamycin, acetogenins, and reticuline. For some of us who aren’t very familiar with the plant, let alone the various health benefits of the leaves, these 15 spectacular health benefits of soursop leaves may be surprising.
1. Treats Disease
Many people would claim that the most important health benefit of soursop leaves is the ability to treat disease. This is also the most popular application of soursop leaves: as an herbal remedy to treat disease. It is even suggested that the leaves could possibly be the ultimate disease cure that many of us have been ignoring.
Many people have been taking advantage of soursop plants by boiling the leaves and drinking the concoction to prevent diseased cells from growing. Some people even consume soursop leaves to treat existing diseased cells, and they claim that it works more effectively than chemotherapy. In addition, drinking the herbal remedy doesn’t come with the side effects that chemotherapy does.
Soursop leaves contain annonaceous acetogenins, which are active ingredients with extremely potent anti-tumor properties. The compounds eradicate abnormal cells by cutting the supply of energy essential for cell growth and activity. This is done by interfering with the processes of a certain enzyme responsible for producing energy molecules.
With no molecules, the disease cells can’t do their basic activities to stay alive, much less to multiply. Besides, the compounds also cut off the nutritional supply to the abnormal cells by inhibiting the flow of blood to them.
Soursop leaves are effective in treating various kinds of disease, including liver disease, prostate disease, lung disease, and breast disease. You can enjoy the benefits by simply boiling soursop leaves and drinking the water every morning. The treatment is cheap, natural, and potentially more effective than chemotherapy.
2. Treats Diabetes
Scientists have conducted many animal studies to observe the influence of soursop leaves extract on diabetes. The results consistently demonstrate that these leaves have positive effects on treating diabetes. It works by lowering blood sugar, which is the cause of diabetes. Other results also demonstrated that the extract of soursop leaves is able to increase the content of antioxidants in the blood of animals suffering from type 2 diabetes. As a result, damage to the liver is minimized.
In addition, soursop leaves’ extract may also aid the production of insulin and endogenous antioxidants while simultaneously helping to protect hepatic tissues from oxidative stress.
Based on the extensive evidence from animal testing, many experts recommend soursop leaves as an alternative method to combat diabetes.
3. Treats Gout
Another benefit of soursop leaves is their capability to treat gout. Gout arthritis happens when the kidneys are no longer able to remove purine substances from our bloodstream, so they accumulate in the joints, causing sharp pain that becomes more intense at night. Soursop leaves as a natural remedy works by getting rid of the uric acid from your bloodstream.
Today, many companies promoting an alternative herbal solution for gout offer medicines in the market that contain extract of soursop leaves as the main ingredient. We can also make use of the leaves directly without having to buy the processed product. Simply boil six to ten leaves with two cups of water and drink the remaining one cup of liquid in the morning and evening.
4. Soothes Back Pain
The high demands of modern life that force us to sit in one position all day at the office or do excessive physical work in the field make back pain a common phenomenon. While posture and lifestyle changes, as well as physical therapy, may be the main ways to treat back pain, soursop leaves can also be used as an effective herbal remedy to help us from the inside. This is a considerably better alternative to chemical painkillers, which always come with some potential side effects.
To use soursop leaves as a treatment to alleviate back pain, boil 20 pieces of the leaves in five cups of water. Let it boil until only around three cups of water remain. Drink a cup once a day to relieve the pain.
5. Reduces Inflammation
Soursop leaves have anti-inflammatory properties that can do wonders to treat some conditions. There have been some studies on animals to investigate the effect of soursop leaves in fighting inflammation. The results were all positive.
Besides gout and arthritis, you can also treat other kinds of joint pain and inflammation by rubbing crushed soursop leaves or extract of the leaves on the affected area. The anti-inflammatory content in the leaves will speed up the healing process and soothe the pain.
6. Boosts the Immune System
Both the fruits and the leaves of soursop have a high amount of vitamin C and other powerful antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals. Free radicals will accelerate the aging process on a cellular level, which will, in turn, cause a lot of chronic health disorders and organ dysfunctions.
Antioxidants play an important role in strengthening our body’s immune system by aiding in the production of white blood cells. When our immune system is boosted, we will have stronger protection against various diseases.
To get this benefit, boil four to five soursop leaves with a few cups of water until only one cup of water is left. Drink this everyday to strengthen your immune system. You can also supplement the treatment by adding soursop fruit to your diet.
7. Boosts Gastrointestinal Health
The leaves of soursop are also an effective diuretic: they’re capable of cleansing the gastrointestinal tract by removing excess salt, toxins, and other harmful substances from the body. People have been using the leaves as a natural herbal remedy to treat dysentery for a long time. Since soursop leaves contain many anti-inflammatory properties, they are also very effective in killing gut parasites. As a result, irritation and pain in the colon will be significantly reduced, and the symptoms will soon disappear.
8. Regulates Bowel Movement
Besides boosting your colon and stomach health, soursop leaves can also help by regulating your bowel movements. Difficulty in maintaining regular bowel movements will bring you a lot of discomfort, pain, and even health disorders.
Recurring constipation will likely cause hemorrhoids, the inflammations of vascular structures in the anus that are often accompanied by bleeding. If you are suffering from hemorrhoids, or are regularly constipated, you can take soursop leaves to aid your bowel movement.
9. Relieves Stress
For centuries, people have been using soursop leaf tea to provide sedative effects and reduce stress and anxiety. Stress hormones in the body can disrupt your natural metabolism, causing detrimental effects both on your mental and physical wellbeing.
The anti-inflammatory and soothing properties of soursop leaves may help to alleviate stress. Boiling the leaves with some water and drinking the liquid as a tea is claimed to provide a soothing effect that can treat restlessness and insomnia.
In the Netherlands, soursop leaves were put under the pillow to help provide good sleep, even though there is no scientific explanation to how this method may help with sleep restlessness.
Some laboratory studies have been conducted to test out the effectiveness of the properties in soursop leaves to deal with stress. There is proof that the extract of soursop leaves contains sedative and anti-anxiety concentrations. As an example, the tryptophan content in soursop leaves can relax body tissues and induce a sound sleep. This is why drinking soursop leaf tea will help to cure sleep difficulties.
10. Helps Users Cope With Depression
Although soursop leaves have anti-anxiety and sedative effects to treat stress, they don’t have depressive side effects. On the contrary, there are studies that demonstrate that the extract of soursop’s fruits and leaves have the potential to reduce depression. This is because of the three types of alkaloids present in the plants: asimadoline, annonaine, and nornuciferine. These alkaloids are able to stimulate serotonin receptors; serotonin is an essential hormone that produces a good feeling.
By consuming soursop leaves as a tea, you will avoid depression and protect your emotional wellbeing.
11. Promotes Healthy Hair
Growing healthy hair is difficult given our surrounding environment that exposes us to unhealthy pollutants, harmful chemicals, and intense ultraviolet rays. Hair problems such as dandruff, hair loss, and early graying can be the result of these harmful environmental factors and an unhealthy lifestyle. To combat these effects, you can use soursop leaves as an herbal remedy. The nutrients in the leaves will nourish and strengthen the hair. Meanwhile, the antibacterial properties of the leaves will prevent parasites from growing and developing in the scalp.
Because of this, people often use soursop leaves to get rid of head lice. Not only will soursop leaves eradicate and prevent head lice from coming back, the anti-inflammatory nature of the leaves will also ease the itch and other symptoms caused by head lice that inhabit the hair.
12. Eases Respiratory Distress
Soursop leaves, along with the fruits, are also helpful herbal remedies for people who are dealing with respiratory problems such as coughs, asthma, or colds. The leaves will combat these respiratory ailments by relieving congestion, clearing out the airway, and soothing the irritation.
Soursop leaves can also function as an expectorant to clear mucus and phlegm. The potential to kill parasites is also helpful in dealing with the pathogens living in the mucus and phlegm. Drinking a concoction of boiled soursop leaves and water may also speed up the healing process by reducing inflammation in the respiratory tract.
13. Boosts Skin Health
Soursop leaves are also effective to treat various skin conditions. It can speed up the healing of wounds, treat skin eruptions, alleviate eczema, and deal with other skin problems. This is because of the high content of vitamin C, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties in the plants.
Boils on the skin may cause intense pain, besides the bad aesthetics we have to deal with. Applying some crushed or fresh soursop leaves on the affected area will help to treat the boils, thanks to the healing qualities of the leaves. Soursop leaves can also be used to treat fresh wounds. The anti-bacterial properties will prevent infections, while the anti-inflammatory qualities will reduce the pain and speed up the healing process.
In addition, the high content of vitamin C and antioxidants are powerful to fight free radicals and act as anti-aging agents, and they will also naturally make the skin more beautiful. Wrinkles, dark spots, and other pigmentation problems are the results of aging. Consuming the extract of soursop leaves and applying the crushed leaves topically to the face will help rejuvenate the skin.
14. Protects the Heart
Soursop leaves can also be a powerful herbal supplement to protect the health of your heart. The leaves can boost our metabolism and stimulate the blood circulation system. Because of this, the heart will not encounter problems in pumping blood to all parts of the body.
Besides that, soursop leaves are also helpful for patients suffering from hypertension by reducing the blood pressure. This is done without affecting the heart rate in a negative manner.
15. Fights Fever and Keeps Body Temperature Low
Throughout centuries, people have been using soursop leaves tea and extract as an alternative medicine to fight the fever. Soursop leaves can lower body temperature when consumed as a tea.
Besides consuming the leaves as tea, it’s also possible to experience similar benefits of the leaves by putting them in bathing water. In hot and dry places in Africa, the leaves are usually put in bathing water during the driest and hottest weather to keep body temperatures low.
Whether you call it guyabano, jackfruit, durian, sugar apple, breadfruit, mangosteen, or Cherimoya, this superfood is a great addition to your diet.
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