Guyabano (Annona muricata)
By Penelope A. Domogo, MD
Guyabano or gayobana (also called soursop, graviola, custard apple, Brazilian paw ) is a popular tropical tree with sweet-sour fruit. It is native to the tropical regions of the Americas and the Caribbean and was introduced to the Philippines perhaps by our Spanish conquistadores where we got the term guyabano (from the Spanish guanabana). It has become one of my favourite fruits. In the past it was just a common fruit tree in everyone’s yard in warm areas of the Philippines. So we didn’t have these when we were children as we grew up in the cool mountains. Until recently, it wasn’t a commercial fruit and there seemed to be no demand for it. You know, just like chisa, you eat it when it is there, in season. It was only some years back that it rose in popularity because of its supposed anti-cancer properties.
The Department of Science & Technology (DOST) published, in its website on January 4, 2013, that “Studies by the Chemicals & Energy Division of DOST’s Industrial Technology Department Institute (DOST-ITDI) show that guyabano generally has high flavonoid content. Flavonoids are phytochemicals that have been found to inhibit or even prevent the growth of viruses, carcinogens and allergens.”
If you search the internet, there are many more studies done on the beneficial effects of guyabano fruit or leaves. There’s also a book “The Best 100 Philippine Medicinal Plants” by Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan (my mentor) and Dr. Isidro Sia, where it says that the leaves of guyabano are traditionally used to treat boils, abscesses, skin disorders, coughs and colds, nervous disorders and digestive problems and have tranquilizing effects. It also mentions that modern studies show that the leaves have anti-diabetic properties as well. It also has anti-oxidant properties, just like that mentioned in the DOST study- meaning it prevents cell damage and generates cell renewal. In ordinary terms, antioxidants prevent and heal diseases. Thus is the wonder of plants. Thus is the wonder of guyabano leaves.
So are you going to eat guyabano fruit everyday or drink guyabano tea or capsules everyday? Perhaps if the fruit is in season, I can eat it but once one fruit is consumed, I would let a week pass to have another, if still in season. Oh, by the way, don’t add sugar or milk to it as that would devalue its natural contents. About the leaves, these are so abundant, as long as its grown on the ground! I can even grow the plant in a big flower pot just for its leaves but of course, in limited quantity. Going by nature’s signals (meaning if it’s abundant then you may also have it in abundance) I can have guyabano tea as often as I like. For those who need cell regeneration, then you may also take in more. The good thing with these natural teas is that they are not concentrated so it’s difficult to have excess. We just need to take these in grateful acknowledgement to the Creator who gave these to us. We need also to listen to our bodies. You know what, when the anticancer property of guyabano was published, I was just amazed at our Creator. I thought, wow, He really is all-knowing! He knew what the future will bring, He knows our minds and where our lives are heading to so He already made provisions for the future in the beginning of time. He is after all, God. However, although there are studies on these anti-cancer properties of guyabano, these are not accepted by western science standards. But then I believe that there are many paths to healing – natural, traditional, indigenous, eastern, western, homeopathic, ayurvedic, etc. May we let our Creator guide us in all we do.***
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12