Custard apple is a hybrid between Annona cherimola and Annona squamosa plants. The first cross was made in Florida by P. J. Wester of the US Department of Agriculture subtropical laboratory, Miami, in 1908. The hybrid has spread across most of the tropical world (Lim, 2012). The tree prefers dry, warm tropical areas. The plant does not tolerate prolonged subzero temperatures. It takes 100–120 days from flowering to fruit maturity. Grafted trees begin to yield fruit in 3–4 years. The plant can grow up to 6 m. The fruit is sweet, eaten as a dessert, or used in drinks. The pulp of the fruit is white. Many varieties have a preponderance of seed in the fruit.
The Annona spp., including A. squamosa, A. muricata, and A. cherimola, (custard apple species) contain acetogenin alkaloid compounds with anticancer properties. One such alkaloid, bulatacin, was shown to possess antitumor potential against cancerous liver tumors (Chih et al., 2001). Annona muricata leaves destroy colon cancer cells (Moghadamtousi et al., 2014). Acetogenins were also reported to eliminate human hepatoma cell lines (Liaw et al., 2002).
The fruit contains small amounts of neurotoxic alkaloids, and consuming large quantities could cause Parkinson-like symptoms (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 2011; Champy et al., 2005).
Plants are often the starting research point in a drug discovery process. Identifying molecules with medicinal properties should not be taken that consumption of that plant will help treat a patient. Molecules need to be tested for safety, efficacy, and side effects.
In most cases, the concentration of a bioactive compound in a plant is not adequate to cause any meaningful impact on a health condition.
Take the information on the medicinal property of an individual plant for knowledge. Alternate medicines should only be consumed if tested and approved by a credible regulator. Most herbal medicine recommendations have not been adequately tested and can if consumed without medical advice, cause more harm than good.
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