Soursop, aka graviola, guyabano, Brazilian paw paw, Custard apple, or guanabana, is a fruit that comes from Annona muricata, an evergreen tree with flowers and broad leaves. The soursop fruit is a dark green spikey oval fruit that can grow as big as 12 inches (30 cm) long and weigh up to 15 pounds. The tree can grow as tall as 30 feet (9.1 m), have oblong to oval leaves, yellow flowers, and while the young branches are hairy, leaf stalks are long with no hairs. The plant, Annona muricata, is forgiving of soil with poor conditions however the plant prefers growing in lowland areas and does not like frost.

The origins are not known for certain but it is believed to be from northern parts of South America it is found in tropical regions of the Americas as well as in the Caribbean. The soursop plant is said to be cultivated in other tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world, places like India. This plant belongs to the same genus, Annona, as cherimoya, aka sugar-apple, sweet sop and gets its name because it has a slightly acidic taste when it is ripe.


Different forms of Soursop

Soursop can be bought in tea form, as dried leaves, tree bark, or powder. The edible fruit can be used to make juices, smoothies, sorbets, ice cream or eaten as is. The seeds are black and indigestible but can be crushed and used as a remedy for head lice.


Common Uses

The fruit and leaves are used for a wide variety of things in traditional medicine. Herbal medicine practitioners use the plant to treat digestive issues including diarrhea, pain, hypertension, inflammation, fever, coughs and many other medical ailments.

Dried soursop leaves are typically used to make tea that is said to have a calming and soothing effect, great for those with insomnia or nervous disorders.



Soursop is high in vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. Minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron can also be found in the plant. It is said to be high in antioxidants, which help to neutralize harmful compounds called free radicals. This plant contains potassium, which helps the body get rid of sodium and eases tension in the lining of blood vessels. This process is helps with lowering blood pressure.


Potential Benefits

Through limited research, studies have found the soursop plant to have anti-carcinogenic properties. These effects have the potential to reduce the size of cancer cells and stop the formation of leukemia cells. Ancient medicine has deemed soursop to have many healing properties, for example, having anti-viral properties, parasitic and anti-diabetic. Soursop extracts made with alcohol have been shown to aid in treating gastric ulcers as well as have antimicrobial properties. Further research is required, however ancient civilizations have sworn by this medicine for centuries.



Before deciding to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, first consult your health care professional. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate.

While the fruit is safe to eat, the seeds are toxic and should not be consumed. Tea made from the leaves should be avoided during pregnancy as potential effects on the unborn baby are unknown. Drinking the tea is not advised for use in small children or to be taken for prolonged periods. Drinking soursop tea for extended periods can result in Parkinson like symptoms such as rigid muscles, personality changes, slowness of movement, eye movement issues, or balance problems. Soursop has potential of lowering blood glucose level, so extreme caution should be taken for those on anti-diabetic medications and antihypertensive medications.




Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on September 19, 2022

Cleveland clinic link:

What Is Soursop?

(González-Stuart, 2014; Small, 2012; Duke, 1986; Morton, 1979).

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