SOURSOP = GRAVIOLA = GUANABANA
SUGAR APPLE = SWEETSOP = ATA
Soursop and sugar apple are two representatives of an important botanical family, not only by the number of species but also by their richness in compounds with a pharmacological potential.
In French Guiana alone, there are 56 annonaceae species in 13 genera.
If the genus Annona is native to tropical America, another important genus, Cananga (ylang-ylang) comes from southeast Asia.
Annona squamosa or sugar apple ( pommme cannelle in French = cinnamon apple) is a shrub or small tree native to the West Indies and South America, but introduced is most of the tropical regions where it has many local name (especially in Asia and Africa).
It is able to grow even in poor, sloping, rather dry soils, and can help to stabilize fragile and degraded areas.
It is not eaten by goats or sheep.
Its fruit, 7 to 10 cm in diameter, a little rounded, is covered with tubercles that give it a somewhat scaly appearance, its color is yellowish green with, at maturity, a tendency to marbling with white or bluish reflections.
When ripe, it is easy to open, the pulp a little granular and white contains a lot of brown and shiny seeds.
Annona muricata or soursop, graviola or guanabana in South-America, (corossol in French) is a small evergreen tree native to Central America and now distributed throughout the tropical an subtropical regions.
Its distinctive heart-shaped, dark green, thorny-looking fruit is 15 to 30 cm long, sometimes slightly distorted, sometimes kidney-shaped.
Very firm when it is green, it becomes soft and fragile at maturity, its white, tart, aromatic pulp contains many black or dark brown seeds
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
Both fruits contain :
- 15 to 20% of sugars (including fructose),
- vitamin C and various vitamin B, (B1, B2, B6),
- minerals : manganese, magnesium, iron, and also potassium.
The leaves and seeds contain :
- acetogenins compounds: they are aliphatic compounds with 35-39 C atoms, cyclized and terminated by a lactone ring, some are caracteristic of the genus annona : Annonin and Annonacin.
They are neuro-toxic but also with interesting properties : cystostatic (potentially anticancerous), antibacterial, insecticide and larvaecide.
The whole plants (but not the fruit) contains also many alkaloids (at least 14 in sugar apple for example) : among them , Higenamine and Liriodenine are more studied and tested in vitro and in vivo.
Higenamine (= norcoclaurine) acts as a powerful ADRENERGIC (beta 2 agonist) causing bronchodilation,acceleration of the heart rhythm and vasodilatation (including coronary system and corpus cavernosum (erectile function)).
Liriodenine is SEDATIVE with many other pharmacological properties : antibacterial and anti-fungal, antitumoral.
The total alkaloid leaves extract of sugar apple exert a strong acetylcholine mimetic action ( the opposite of adrenergic) with cytostatic and antibiotic effects (S. aureus, E. coli) in soursop, the total extract effects are also entangled, cardiac slowdown but respiratory stimulation.
The leaves of soursop and sugar apple contain a small percentage of essential oil.
The seeds of both trees contain 25 to 40 % of oil where unsaturated fatty acids predominate but difficult to use due to the presence of toxic acetogenins
SOURSOP AND SUGAR APPLE FRUITS
The soursop fruit, squeezed and filtered gives a pleasant and nourishing drink with vitamin and minerals and it's even better in ice cream or sorbet.
The sugar apple fruit has a finer and more fragrant flesh but less abundant.
An infusion of leaves of both trees is sedative, slightly soporific and used as such by Creole populations in South America and some parts of the Caribbean.
Nervous children are sometimes bathed in a warm infusion of soursop leaf.
An infusion of leaves (soursop and especially sugar apple) calm the inflammation (first degree burn) of solar erythems .
Infusion (tea) or decoction of soursop or sugar apple leaves contain a small amount of potentially toxic acetogenins (annonin , annonacin and other compounds).
A REGULAR and FREQUENT uses of annona species tea may provoke insidious brain damages (may be increasing the risk of parkinson disease).
Even if acetogenins from Annona species have shown anti-cancerous properties in vitro and in vivo in mice or rat, To my knowledge,at the time of writing, there are not advised to be used for humans due to there neurotoxicity.
HIGENAMINE ( mostly synthetic higenamine) is used as a food supplement for weight management or to increase performance but is prohibited by World Anti-Doping Agency for use in sports.
In humans, higenamine has been studied in China for use as a pharmacological agent for cardiac stress tests.
SOURSOP AND SUGAR APPLE SEEDS
Dried seeds powdered are sprayed on plants or incorporated into the soil of rice or vegetable fields (especially in Vietnam) but this insecticide powder is irritating to the eyes and mucous membranes.
In Brazil, soursop oil is used to get rid of external parasites and as an anti-nevralgic and antirheumatic lotion.
Tropical fruits source of new drugs
Native to tropical America, these two fruits are eaten locally
or exported as pasteurized juice.
Leaves and seeds contain many compounds
which may be the source of new drugs.
The infusion of leaves is sedative and soothing for the skin:
sunburn, itching insect bites and eczema.
Copyright 2019 : Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel