Graviola Introduction: History, Chemistry, Gardening
Graviola (Annona muricata) is a miraculous evergreen tree found in the rainforest of South and North America. This small tree is well-known in herbal medicine and has several names: Soursop, Brazilian Paw Paw, Guanabana. The plant may grow up to 5-6 meters high. Graviola has large, shining, dark-green leaves and delicious fruits commonly known as paw paw. The latter are heart-shaped and have approximately 15-20 cm in diameter.
Graviola is not a new discovery in herbal medicine. It has been widely used by indigenous population to treat a number of illnesses and diseases. The inhabitants of the Peruvian Andes, for example, make tea from Graviola leaves for catarrh and eat crushed seeds to kill parasites and bacteria. The Peruvian Amazon tribes consider the roots, leaves, and bark of the tree to have sedative and antispasmodic properties.
The population of the Brazilian Amazon has always used Graviola leaf tea to treat liver problems. Their women ate Graviola fruits or drunk the juice to increase lactation. The Brazilians made a mixture from Graviola leaves oil, its fruit juice, and olive oil. It was applied externally for rheumatism, neuralgia, and arthritis pain. The native people of Jamaica, Haiti, and the West Indies used the fruit and fruit juice to treat diarrhea and fevers. The bark and leaves was praised for their antispasmodic and sedative properties and effectiveness for treating heart diseases, cough, flu, asthma, and hypertension. Graviola tea is advised to drink every day in order to elevate mood and increase the quality of life. Indigenous tribes of the rainforest scattered the crushed leaves around beds and pillowcases to have a good sleep. The crushed leaves were also used instead of smelling salts to return to consciousness.
Serious clinical studies on Graviola have been carried out since the 1940s. Most of them have documented anti-tumorous, anti-parasitic, anti-viral, hypotensive, and antidepressive properties of the plant. This is due to the rich chemical structure of Graviola. One of the most active and important constituents is a group of chemicals called Annonaceous acetogenins, which are praised for the unique anti-cancerous and anti-tumorous properties. They can be found in Graviola leaves, stem, bark, and fruit seeds. Scientists have already defined more than 34 compounds of this group. Annonaceous acetogenins are very effective in the treatment of all types of cancer: they kill cancer cells and do not harm healthy ones.
Graviola acts as an antidepressant due to the novel alkaloids found in its seeds and roots. However, one should be very careful while undergoing the treatment with this plant, because these alkaloids may be toxic to the nervous system. Scientists suggest that they may lead to Parkinson disease. One more very important chemical compound found in fruits is serotonin uptake inhibitor that accounts for the feeling of joy.
Graviola is usually grown in wild soils of the rainforest areas and harvested by the indigenous people. To obtain tincture and capsules, the Spagyric method is used. It allows preserving the product’s bioavailability and nutritive properties. At first raw Graviola herbs are crushed and put into a liquid which consists of pure grain alcohol and water and are left there for 3-4 weeks. This liquid helps decompose the herb’s cells structure and release all the important phytochemicals. As a result, the Graviola tincture shows much more bioavailability and is better absorbed. To produce capsules the raw material is used. It is also crushed, then applied with a tincture spray and finally dried and encapsulated. The processed Graviola products (capsules and tincture) are more powerful and have stronger healing properties than the raw material.
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