Medicinal Value of Sugar Apple (Annona squamosa) or Sitaphal

Annona squamosa or or Sugar Apple or Sitaphal is a multipurpose semi-deciduous small tree, which is rich in medicinally and industrially important bio-active components present all its parts. The fruit is known as the "Aristocrat of Fruits" for its nutritional value. This native Amazonian tree has many sister varieties now cultivated in India in many parts, mainly in Bengal. Ramphal or Annona reticulata is one among them which is commonly seen.

A large deciduous shrub or small tree about four to eight meters tall. Leaves are simple, oblong, lanceolate or elliptic, glabrous above and alternately arranged. Flowers are fragrant, creamy yellow to greenish, seen solitary or in groups of up to four in leaf opposed cymes. The fruit is globose or ovoid, yellowish green when ripe, embossed with prominent scales with soft creamy pulp. Seeds are hard, brownish black and smooth in texture.

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Roots, leaves, fruits, seeds and bark of the plant has multiple uses and can be easily grown in dry climates as well. The fruits are very high in calorific value and are a rich source of minerals and Vitamins. They are used by athletes for their high energy content. The seeds are powerful insecticides and powdered seeds are used for removing head lice. It is also used as an effective pesticide in agriculture and horticulture.

Apart from this, various parts of the plant are medicinally useful in a wide variety of diseases from tumor to cough. The leaves are shown to have anti-diabetic properties. It is also known for its hepato-protective powers and scientists have experimentally proven the efficacy of the alcoholic extract of the leaves and stem in malignant tumors.

Its efficacy as anti-depressant and anti oxidant has also been experimentally proven by various scientists. They are also used as anti-depressants, in epilepsy and in spinal cord disorders. Fruits are sweet, haematinic (A medicine which increases the haemoglobin content of the red cells in the blood), cooling, act as a sedative, stimulant and function as expectorant and tonic. Seeds are abortificient and insecticidal.

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Roots are powerful purgatives and are also used in dysentery. Acetogenins found in the seeds of Sitaphal would actually help fight plant pests. The Sitaphal pesticide is inexpensive, environment-friendly and highly effective in containing a variety of pests on a number of crops. The seed extracts also showed synergistic activity in combination with neem seed extract in pesticidal action.

It is nourishing, increases blood (Hb count), sweet, cooling, heart tonic, provides strength, helps muscle building and alleviates burning sensation, bleeding disorders and disorders of vaata.

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