What is Graviola?
Graviola is flowering, 5-6m high evergreen tree native to South and North America (Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, etc.). The fruit is called sour soup in English-speaking countries and graviola in Brazil. All parts of the graviola tree are used in natural medicine for different conditions.
There are several active chemicals found in graviola, but most of the research focuses on chemicals known as Annonaceous acetogenins that are found in the leaf, stem, bark, and fruit seed. It is proven that these chemicals have antitumorous properties at very low dosages (1 part per million) and kill different types of cancer cells without harming healthy cells (selective toxicity).
It has been determined that acetogenins are inhibitors of enzyme processes that are only found in the membranes of cancerous tumor cells. This is why they are toxic to cancer cells but not toxic to healthy cells.
Energy transfer inhibitors
Cancer cells that survive chemotherapy can develop resistance to the agent originally used for the treatment. This is called multi-drug resistance (MDR). Some of the research on acetogenins reported that they have the capability of killing multi-drug-resistant tumors. Researchers reported that the acetogenins killed multi-drug-resistant cancer cells by blocking the transfer of cellular energy into them. As any cell, tumor cells need energy to survive, and by inhibiting energy transfer, acetogenins kill the tumor cells.
Toxic to these types of tumor cells
Acetogenins in graviola have been reported to be toxic to these types of tumor cells: lung carcinoma cell lines; human breast solid tumor lines; prostate adenocarcinoma; pancreatic carcinoma cell lines; colon adenocarcinoma cell lines; liver cancer cell lines; human lymphoma cell lines; and multi-drug resistant human breast adenocarcinoma
Researchers in Taiwan also reported that the main graviola acetogenin, annonacin, was highly toxic to ovarian, cervical, breast, bladder and skin cancer cells at very low dosages.
Chemotherapy vs. Graviola
There was a study in Japan that inoculated mice with lung cancer cells. One third wasn’t treated at all (the control group), one third received the chemotherapy drug adriamycin, and one third received annonacin from graviola. At the end of the study (2 weeks) the group treated with adriamycin showed a 54.6% reduction of tumor mass over the control group (untreated group) but three of six mice had died from toxicity (50%). All mice treated with annonacin survived, and the tumors were inhibited by 57.9% and without toxic effects.
Why isn’t it prescribed as a cancer drug?
It has taken almost a decade to successfully synthesize (chemically reproduce) annonacin in the laboratory. Now the scientists need to slightly change the synthesized chemical to make it different from the naturally occurring plant chemical to be able to patent it and turn it into a new cancer drug (naturally-occurring plant chemicals cannot be patented). It seems that this is not as easy as it sounds because every time they change the chemical enough to patent it, they lose much of the anti-tumorous actions.
Where to buy it?
The therapeutic dosage of graviola leaf is 2-3 grams taken 3 or 4 times daily. Graviola products (capsules and tinctures) are becoming more widely available and are now offered by different manufacturers in health food stores as well as in online shops.