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Soursop Tea: 13 Benefits You Should Know About

Fact Checked

soursop leaves

Story at-a-glance -

  • Soursop is a plant originating from the tropical region of the Americas. It is known for its fruit, which tastes like a combination of mango and pineapple
  • Research shows that soursop leaves may have cancer-fighting properties. Other studies show that the leaves have antimicrobial, immune-boosting and cardiovascular benefits as well
  • Note that most studies involving the cancer-fighting properties of soursop leaves have been conducted in a laboratory setting. It’s advisable that you not rely on soursop tea as your only method of lowering your risk of cancer until more clinical studies have been published

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is the second leading cause of death around the world, claiming 9.6 million lives in 2018.1 The prevalence of this disease has led to a rise in remedies with supposed cancer-fighting capabilities, with soursop tea being a perfect example.

Soursop is a tree native to the tropical region of the Americas. It is known for its fruit, which has white flesh and a taste described as a blend between mango and pineapple. Due to its enjoyable flavor, it’s used as an ingredient for custards, ice cream and drinks. Furthermore, the plant’s leaves have been touted as a potential alternative to cancer treatments, with soursop tea being one of its most popular derivatives. But do the claims of the public hold any truth?2

What Is Soursop Tea?

Soursop tea is a beverage made by brewing the leaves of the soursop tree. The plant can also be identified as guanabana3 and Brazilian paw paw.4 In the Philippines, it is commonly referred to as guyabano.5

Due to its long historical use and reputation as a supposed cancer-fighting food, it has gained popularity around the world. This hypothesis has piqued the interests of scientists aiming to discover if these claims are real or not.

13 Notable Health Benefits of Soursop Tea

Soursop leaves, the main ingredient in soursop tea, have been studied extensively by researchers around the world. Published scientific research shows the strong potential of this remedy, along with other interesting uses. Here are some potential benefits the plant can bring in the field of human health:

Lower the risk of cancer — Soursop’s apparent ability to fight cancer is a major factor in its popularity. The leaves contain acetogenins, which fight cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.6,7,8 The following medical journals provide an overview of the plant’s potential in lowering the risk of various types of cancers.

Colon Cancer

Asian Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2017) — Thirty patients with colorectal cancer who had undergone tumor surgery were given either a placebo or soursop leaf extract, and their serum was studied for cytotoxicity against colorectal cancer cell lines. Results showed that the soursop group had higher cytotoxicity in their cancer cells compared to the placebo group.9

PLOS One (2015) — In this study, researchers noted soursop leaves have potential in reducing the risk of colon cancer, thanks to a constituent called “annomuricin E.”10

Toxicology Letters (2008) — Acetogenins isolated in soursop have been found to help reduce colon crypts in rats by as much as 50 percent.11

Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2014) — Researchers discovered that soursop leaves induced apoptosis in colon cancer cells in an in vitro setting.12

Breast Cancer

Advances in Breast Cancer Research (2014) — A 66-year-old woman who started drinking soursop tea helped stabilize her breast cancer while undergoing chemotherapy.13

Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2011) — Annonacin derived from soursop induced apoptosis in estrogen receptor-alpha-related pathways of breast cancer cells in mice subjects.14

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2016) — Extracts from soursop leaves may be a potential candidate for breast cancer treatment because they were discovered to induce cytotoxicity toward breast cancer cell lines.15

Current Pharmaceutical Design (2016) — Leaf extracts of soursop exhibited cell inhibition activity in breast cancer cells by as much as 98 percent in a laboratory setting.16

Prostate Cancer

Carcinogenesis (2015) — Flavonoids and acetogenins found in soursop leaves provide a synergistic interaction that may inhibit tumor growth in prostate cancer cells.17

Phytochemistry (1998) — Results from this study show that two constituents in soursop leaves show significant cytotoxic properties against prostate (plus pancreatic) cancer cell lines.18

Lung Cancer

Journal of Natural Products (1995) — Acetogenins from soursop leaf extracts were found to be toxic against human lung tumor cell lines.19

Boost your antioxidant levels — Several studies indicate that antioxidants found in soursop leaves may help eliminate free radicals throughout your body.20,21 In one study published in 2007, soursop leaves had a maximum scavenging activity of 90.05 percent.22 In another, soursop leaves are shown to have cytoprotective properties against hydrogen peroxide-induced stress.23

Fight pathogenic microbes — A study published in 2016 notes that soursop leaf extracts were effective in fighting off various bacterial strains such as Streptococcus, Porphyromonas and Prevotella, as well as the yeast Candida.24 In a separate study, soursop helped inhibit the growth of Herpes simplex virus-1.

Manage inflammationAccording to a study published in the Journal of Natural Remedies, soursop leaf extracts inhibited various inflammatory mediators.25 Two other studies show similar results.26,27

Manage diabetesIn a 2008 study, researchers determined that soursop leaf extracts have protective effects on serum lipid profile and oxidative stress for diabetic rats.28 Two other studies note that the leaves helped lower blood glucose concentrations in hyperglycemic or diabetic rats.29,30

Improve pancreatic health — A study published in the African Journal of Biomedical Research states that leaf aqueous extracts of soursop may enhance the production of antioxidants that can help promote pancreatic health.31

Eliminate insects — If you’re growing your own produce, extracts of soursop leaves may protect them from insects. In one 2006 study, the leaves were shown to be toxic against snails and brine shrimp.32 Annonacins of soursop have also been found to be effective against the Spodoptera littoralis (Egyptian cotton leafworm), Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Colorado potato beetle) and Myzus persicae (green peach aphid).33

Boost liver health — A mice study published in 2012 notes that soursop leaf extracts have bilirubin-lowering potential in jaundiced rats.34 Bilirubin is a yellow-orange substance produced by the liver as it breaks down red blood cells, which is excreted out of the body. If it is not expelled, it can cause jaundice.35

Manage mental health — Soursop leaf extracts may help lower stress, as shown in a rat study published in the Journal of Natural Remedies. Researchers found that soursop can inhibit the production of neurotransmitter stressors in the central nervous system.36 A different study notes that soursop may help manage depression as well.37

Improve wound healing — Topical application of soursop leaves may help accelerate wound healing, as noted in a rat study in the International Journal of Surgery (London, England).38

Manage blood pressure — Mice injected with soursop leaf extract had lowered blood pressure. Researchers observed that the soursop has hypotensive effects by blocking Ca(2+), or calcium ions that resulted in lowered blood pressure without affecting heart rates.39

Boost digestive health — Antioxidants of soursop leaves have been found to reduce gastric ulcers in rats, as well as preserve the gastric wall mucus.40

Boost immune system — A study published in 2016 shows that soursop leaves can help boost your immune system by triggering mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathways.41

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How to Make Soursop Tea

One of the most popular methods of benefiting from soursop is by brewing the leaves as tea. It’s a fairly simple process and requires few ingredients. This recipe from the Times Caribbean will set you on the right path:42

Soursop Tea Recipe

Ingredients:

1 liter filtered water

15 soursop leaves, dried or fresh

1 soursop stem, cut into small pieces

1/2 teaspoon lime juice (optional)

2 mint leaves (optional)

A dab of raw honey (optional)

Procedure:

1. Boil the water in a pot, and place the leaves and stem in the pot.

2. Once the ingredients are placed in the pot, turn the heat to low and continue to boil for 30 minutes or until the water evaporates by half the amount.

3. Filter the tea and place in a teapot. You can drink up to 3 cups a day.

4. You can add either mint, lime or honey to help improve the taste.

Note: The Times Caribbean recommends drinking soursop tea 30 minutes before eating.

Soursop Tea Side Effects and Contraindications

While soursop tea may benefit your health in many ways, there are some caveats you should be aware of. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center advises you to  the avoid soursop if you:43

Are taking blood pressure and diabetic medications — Soursop may increase the effects of these drugs.

Have liver or kidney disease — Repeated consumption of soursop may increase liver and kidney toxicity.

Undergoing nuclear imaging — Soursop may reduce tissue uptake of radiopharmaceuticals for people taking this test.

Have a low blood platelet count — Soursop may reduce platelet count further.

In addition, soursop may cause movement disorders and myeloneuropathy, which may imitate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.44 Examples include limb tremors, rigid muscles, loss of automatic movements and speech changes.45

Don’t Rely on Soursop Tea to Lower Your Cancer Risk

While the studies regarding soursop sound promising, it’s not wise to rely on it as your sole method for lowering your risk of cancer. The majority of the studies published were conducted on animals in a laboratory setting, necessitating more studies on humans to ascertain the true potential of this remedy.46

Don’t take this to mean that you should simply disregard soursop entirely; you can still add it to your regular diet to help boost your antioxidant profile and help support your overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions About Soursop Tea

Q: What is soursop leaf tea good for?

A: Studies show that soursop leaves have potential in lowering the risk of cancer, fighting bacteria, boosting your antioxidant profile and helping promote digestive health, among others.

Q: Does soursop tea help you lose weight?

A: Soursop tea historically has been used to aid in weight loss. However, there is not enough clinical evidence to substantiate this claim.47

Q: How do you drink soursop tea?

A: According to the Times Caribbean, you should drink soursop tea 30 minutes before eating a meal.48

Q: Is soursop tea good for high blood pressure?

A: Soursop tea may help lower blood pressure in humans, as the same effects were found in rats administered with soursop leaf extracts.49 However, you should not take soursop if you are taking blood pressure medications, as the soursop can increase the effects of the medications.

+ Sources and References
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