A plant that is common in the Philippine, guyabano is drawing interest especially to health conscious individuals and to those with health issues. It is called soursop or guyabano in English, graviola in Portuguese and guanabana in Spanish. In the southern part of the Philippines it is called “abana”, a name that is perhaps a corruption of the Spanish guanabana. Guyabano is said to have originated from South America, and is now cultivated in many parts of the world especially in places where there are hot tropical climate. In the Philippines Guyabano might have found its way in the Philippines through the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade during the Spanish colonial era.
The Guyabano plant is a small tree with small elliptical leaves and an oddly shaped unattractive flower with thick petals. The thin rind of its fruit is surrounded with soft pricks. Inside the fruit is a juicy white pulpy flesh and inedible black seeds. The flesh has a sweet and sour taste. The evergreen fruit is usually harvested when matured and kept in a place to ripen after several days.
Guyabano used to be planted only in the backyard for its fruit. The fruit is ranked low in Filipino preference. It is not as popular as some native fruits such as banana, melon, avocado, mango, durian and other fruits. But the hype that guyabano fruit and other parts of the plants are cure for some diseases particularly cancer has created an increase in demand for the fruit in the market.
Usually, the fruit is eaten as is. It is also used in smoothies, in the production of fruit juice and in the flavoring of ice cream. It has significant amount of vitamin C, vitamin B1, and vitamin B2..
The fruit of guyabano plant and its other parts such as the leaves, stems, barks and roots are used in traditional medicine. Diseases that are said to be treatable with guyabano include dysentery, skin disorders, scurvy, and diabetes among others. The good thing is that herbal medicine such as guyabano can be used without the undesirable side effects experienced by patients in using conventional pharmaceutical drugs.
Indeed, the hype that guyabano is a cure for several illnesses including cancer has brought about the manufacturing of products that are derived from extracts of guyabano. The products come from the USA, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Peru, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and other countries. They are labeled only as food supplement, but some people used it as a medicine or as complementary drug for cancer and other diseases anyway. Graviola or guyabano capsules ads and sales promotions have proliferated in the internet. Orders can be placed in big online stores such as eBay, Amazon and Lazada. Comments made in Amazon by those who used graviola or guyabano capsules claimed that they are effective in dealing with health issues such as eczema, stomach parasites and even cancer. However no refutable cancer organization has subscribed to the effectiveness of graviola products as treatment to the one of the most dreaded diseases.
Cancer Research UK laboratory test indicates that guyabano extracts can kill some types of breast and liver cancer cells that are resistant to particular chemotherapy drugs. However, it won’t officially conclude that graviola extracts are cure for cancer since no large scale studies and tests have been conducted in humans. The Center therefore does not support the use of graviola as a treatment of any type of cancer.