Graviola is a small, upright evergreen tree growing 5 to 6 meters in height with large dark green and glossy leaves. It is indigenous to most of the warmest tropical areas in South and North America including the Amazon. It produces a large heart-shaped edible fruit that is 6-9", yellow green in color, with white flesh. The fruit is sold in local markets in the tropics where it is called Guanabana or Brazilian Cherimoya and is excellent for making drinks and sherbets and, though slightly sour-acid, can be eaten out-of-hand.
All parts of the Graviola tree are used in natural medicine in the tropics including the bark, leaves, roots, fruit and fruit-seeds. Different properties and uses are attributed to the different parts of the tree. Generally the fruit and fruit juice is taken for worms and parasites, to cool fevers, to increase mother's milk after childbirth (lactagogue), and as an astringent for diarrhea and dysentery. The crushed seeds are used as a vermifuge and anthelmintic against internal and external parasites and worms. The bark, leaves and roots are considered sedative, antispasmodic, hypotensive and nervine and a tea is made for various disorders for those purposes.
Graviola has a long rich history of use in herbal medicine as well as a long recorded indigenous use. In the Peruvian Andes, a leaf tea is used for catarrh and the crushed seed is used to kill parasites In the Peruvian Amazon the bark roots and leaves are used for diabetes and as a sedative and antispasmodic. Indigenous tribes in Guyana use a leaf and/or bark tea of Graviola as a sedative and heart tonic. In the Brazilian Amazon, a leaf tea is used for liver problems and the oil of the leaves and unripe fruit is mixed with olive oil and used externally for neuralgia, rheumatism and arthritis pain. In Jamaica, Haiti and the West Indies, the fruit and/or fruit juice is used for fevers, parasites, as a lactagogue, and diarrhea; and the bark or leaves are used as an antispasmodic, sedative, and nervine for heart conditions, coughs, grippe, difficult childbirth, asthma, asthenia, hypertension and parasites.