Graviola is a kind of fruit. It is sometimes called Brazilian pawpaw or guanaba; others call it soursoup. It is shaped like a heart, and grows to as large as 8 inches. It is endemic to South America and thrives in the rainforest, though it can also be found in tropical islands.
Graviola has a sweet yet tangy flavor, yet it is rarely eaten straight off the tree. The flavor tends to be too strong. However, many like to include it in juices and sherbets.
Graviola is better known for its medicinal benefits. The leaves were often brewed into a tonic believed to treat liver ailments. The seeds are also crushed and then made into a vermifuge. Graviola is also thought to be a good cure for convulsions, and has also been used to treat heart ailments, respiratory problems like coughs and flu, and even muscle and joint pain. It should never be taken by pregnant women, though, because it is known to induce labor. Other side effects include an increased risk for yeast and fungal infections.
Modern scientists have also discovered that graviola may be beneficial against cancer. It is rich in annonaceous acetogenins which are known to attack cancer cells. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved its use, though some websites sell it as a homeopathic treatment. It does have side-effects, however, such as nausea, and can affect the cardiovascular system.
It may also have industrial purposes; researchers are looking into whether it can be made into a fertilizer.