It’s a large heart shaped fruit with prickly thick green skin with a delicious white creamy meat with inedible black seeds. The fruit is green even when it’s ripe, it only becomes a little lighter shade of green so it’s hardly visible among the leaves of the same colour. The soursop trees are native to the tropical region of Asia, Africa and Americas. The tree is evergreen and the fruiting season in The Gambia is throughout the whole year if you water the trees, otherwise it’s abundant with fruits only in rainy season. It is available for free on the local trees if you have climbing skills, or bought from 50 Dalasi per piece, depending on the size of the fruit. They are sold at the small fruit stands at the roadsides and at the fruit and vegetable markets.
The leaves can be plucked fresh from the local trees or bought dried at the Serekunda market, Tanji market and Top Shop.
The fruit as well as its big, shiny leaves are well known for their medicinal purposes. Both are loaded with phytonutrients that have antioxidant properties, mostly fighting free radicals which are the cause of many diseases.
Eating the delicious fruit promotes gastrointestinal health, as it contains a lot of fibre and water, the potassium in its flesh can reduce leg cramps, but the fruit and the leaves are both used as a powerful medicine for numerous health issues. By regularly eating the fruit or drinking the concoction of soursop leaves, in some cases also by applying paste from the fresh leaves, we can boost our health tremendously as it has a huge range of benefits:
- Promoting healthy skin and hair (treating eczema, rashes, wounds …)
- Controlling parasites like lice and bedbugs
- Aiding with the treatment of cancer as it contains an active ingredient that fights cancer cells
- Reducing back pain, arthritis symptoms and treats osteoporosis and other bone and joint issues
- Inhibiting bacteria and virus growth, fights infections, lowers fever, boosts immunity, eases coughing, reduces inflammation and swelling
- First aid for vomiting and fainting
- Relaxing muscles and relieving stress, therefore treating insomnia, depression, and anxiety
- Is a good natural energiser, it rejuvenates the body
- Healing gout, ulcers and other stomach ailments, gall bladder and liver ailments, blood disorders like anaemia, hypertension, diabetes, herpes, promotes eyesight and weight loss, can be used as an anti-seizure medication and more …
Fruit has a high fibre content along with vitamins: C and B group and minerals: copper, potassium, magnesium, iron.
Leaves are also loaded with antioxidants, same vitamins and minerals but they have a higher calcium content.
Fruit can be eaten raw, just peel and remove the seeds, or we can drink juice or smoothie, we can also bake delicious desserts with it, like ice cream, pudding, jelly and cakes.
Dried leaves can be boiled, and the concoction can be drunk few times per day, or it can be used for washing hair and skin. Up to 20 leaves are cooked in 5 cups of water till the water reduces to 3 cups.
Fresh leaves from the tree, if available, can be crushed into a paste, which is then applied on wounds or to treat skin issues.
Consuming soursop fruit or leaves on a regular basis can aid tremendously to overall health, improving stamina and facilitates a quick recovery from diseases.
You must try it when in The Gambia!