Graviola Not Recommended For Dog Cancer

Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

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Graviola Not Recommended For Dog Cancer

Graviola (Annona muricata) is a tropical tree that has been touted as a useful cancer supplement.  It is also called corossol or soursop. Graviola does have medical potential and is used as a medicine in certain parts of the world.  The fruit is also commonly eaten.

The problem is that Graviola contains both medical compounds and substances that, when taken over long periods, may be toxic.

It is true that there are some interesting molecules in the tree, bark, fruit and leaves that show some limited evidence for being active against cancers.

Different Graviola compounds showed activity against human hepatoma cells ovarian cancer cells, mammary cancer cells, pancreatic carcinoma cells, colon adenocarcinoma cells,  prostate cancer cells, mammary cancer cells, lung cancer cells, and others.

On top of this, substances in the tree appear to have antiviral , anti-leishmania, and anti-malaria properties.

On first blush, this plant does indeed seem to have good things going for it.  However, there is more to the story.  There are some possible dangers that should be recognized before buying and using Graviola supplements for dog cancer.

The main issue at this time is Graviola may be associated with a brain syndrome that is similar to Parkinson’s disease in humans. Several studies indicate a link.  You may find them here, here, here and here…among others.

This brain syndrome in humans causes muscle rigidity, tremors, slowed movement, and difficulty keeping balance.  Of the toxins in Graviola, annonacin may be the more potent  toxin, as it was shown that very small amounts may be capable of being toxic to the nervous system.

As a matter of fact, the very thing that makes Graviola have medical potential seems to be that which carries danger.  The chemicals in Graviola are capable of disrupting a small structure in cells called the mitochondria.  These act like little energy generators in the cell.

When mitochondria in microbes or cancer cells are disrupted by Graviola, these disease-causing agents are damaged.  However, it appears that the same thing happens in brain cells, which may explain why this brain syndrome is seen so frequently in regions where the people consume a lot of soursop, the Graviola fruit.

Until we are able to more clearly understand the complex nature of Graviola, it should not be used as a dog cancer supplement.

If you would like more clarification on dog cancer supplements, look into The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.


Dr D

About the Author: Demian Dressler, DVM

Dr. Demian Dressler, DVM is known as the "dog cancer vet" and is author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog's Life Quality and Longevity.

  • Hi Dr. D!
    I have 2 senior huskies both with Cancer. They are 8 and 10. Freya my 8 yr old had a very large hemangiopercytoma removed from her elbow October 2010 and removed again after it starting growing back in April of this year. She is waiting biopsy results for another tumor on her toe that may be mast cell or benign, we do not know yet. She also has several small spots on her lungs that are “Unknown” but unchanged over the last 2 months.
    Zen my 10 yr old was diagnosed with Anal Gland Adenocarcimo. SHe underwent surgery twice….once to remove the gland and the tumor and again 2 days later for serious surgical complications. She has secondary lymphoma with 4 affected glands including the Iliac lymph node. It is possible again that she has a reoccurance of the andenocarcnoma in the right anal gland now, but we are unsure and treating her for serious infection and abscess of the gland. Both my girls, as sick as they are, still present healthy and happy and fairly energetic. I am looking for some advice. I have been told about Bloodroot Tablets for dogs with cancer, and and wondering about dosing, where to get this, and would it be useful for either Zen or Freya? Freya is 8 yrs old and weights 35.58 KG and Zen is 10 weighing 21.72 Kilos. I am desperate for advice. I want to help my girls so badly. Please can you tell me anything that be be helpful for our situation?
    Thank you so much! Jackie
    email –

    • Dear Jackie
      I am so sorry to hear this- 2 dogs in one house.
      I am wondering if you have read the Guide? The answer to your overall question could fill and book, and it has.
      As to your bloodroot question, I see you are doing your own research, which is good. Luckily I have done most of it for you in the supplement department. You would be much better served going with apoptogens, beta glucans, omega 3’s, modified citrus pectin, and the rest of the full spectrum plan in the Guide. Don’t forget the cancer diet and daily life quality measures. You can search for these in this blog too.
      If you are feeling very attached to bloodroot, instead use the sanguinarine alkaloids in bloodroot in a more potent form, Neoplasene, which you can read about in this blog and in the Guide.
      Dr D

  • amy

    i have recently read that hemp oil gets rid of all signs of cancer. The recipe for this is on youtube and was developed in canada. The US is doing no research to date.

  • Hi. What do you know about long pepper from India? Broad Institute is having a great deal of success with using it to stop cancer in lab rats and humans. Here’s the article where I read about it.

    They also sent me the study. If you want it I’ll forward it to you.

    My nearly 11 year old Afghan hound had a fist sized anal gland cancer removed from her pelvis in Feb. It’s growing back.


    • Dear Thomas-
      yes, I know about these pepper derived compounds. I looked into piperazine and related compounds when developing Apocaps. The problem is this stuff strongly inhibits cytochrome p450, which is responsible for drug and toxin metabolism. The mechanisms are complex with these cytochromes. Anyway, the luteolin, curcumin and apigenin in apocaps increases ROS also, with less p450 inhibition.
      Hope this helps,

  • Nichole

    I have never heard of this treatment you talk about in this article. I have however heard of Noni Juice and have had my chihuahua, Rocky, on it for 3 weeks now. He was diagnosed with a large mass which turned out to be liposarcoma:-( It was in the roof of his mouth towards the back of the right of his mouth. We did surgery to remove it. The margins came back unclean but it hasn’t seemed to have grown back there. However, it did sprout up on the right side of his face on the jaw muscle. We did surgery again in Feb and it also came back unclean margins.. Here we are in August and he has developed another small knot a little farther back on his jaw on the same side that you can feel on the outside… I have been treating him with various herbal treatments including, mushroom complex, Tumeric drops, burdock root complex, Vit C powder, and now noni juice. He still seems peppy and playful and has seemed to have no pain this whole time.. I’m wondering if I should do another surgery or if I’m just damaging tissue while delaying the inevitable:-( I love him so much but this stuff is just not going away and she is thinking it will start to grow inward and cause pressure in his brain and behind his eyes.. I was hoping to put it into remission but something is still growing and that’s just what I can feel on the outside. What do you think of Noni and what do you think of Rocky’s treatments. He’s 6 years old now and weighs 5 lbs. Oh, and he’s also been on a cancer diet since being diagnosed last June. I feel like I’ve rambled but it’s a lot to summarize in one paragraph. Thank you!

    • Dear Nichole,
      this is very tough. These liposarcs in the skull are hard to handle. Noni has some limited anti cancer evidence in test tubes and safety or efficacy has not been confirmed. Vit C orally is a waste of time– if anything try IV combined with vit K3. I would add in Neoplasene, Apocaps, and artemisinin, which are big gun supplements. With these on board you can stop the turmeric dros and burdock root.
      Please have veterinary supervision for these steps.
      Not sure if I would do more surgery at this point. Might consider radiation, but speak with the radiation oncologist first.
      Have you read the Guide? If not, I would suggest it- it is an easy read and can really help.

  • Shirley

    Dear Dr. Dressler,
    You have always been so helpful in the past with answering my questions so I am hoping you can help here also. With a possible move to south Florida in our future because of work I am very concerned that with the environment there that our Lucy could be adversely affected health wise. We currently live in the central valley of Oregon where there is no flea, tick, heartworm or real heat problem but in south Florida all of these things are real prolems. Lucy was diagnosed with Mast Cell (Stage II with an index of 4) two years ago and since then has only had one recurrance of this cancer. I frimly believe that in following your Guides diet plan and using supplements, she has been given your Apocaps and the K9 Immunity Plus. And also not giving vaccines and no chemical treatments for fleas and ticks or heartworm prevenitives either as heartworm are very low here if not at all. By doing all of these things I feel that this is why she has been doing so well but now with this possible move I am so worried that I might be placing her health at risk. So my question is how do I protect her from all the the known parasites(fleas, ticks, heartworms, etc) and even things like West Nile fever and still keep her healthy and with a strong immunity to fight the Mast Cell too?
    I am at my wits end and when I ask my vet and while he is supportative he really does not know other than what is currently being used.
    Thank you again Dr. Dressler for your help and any suggestions on what prevenatives or treatments to use with her would be so great appreciated
    Best Regards, Shirley & Lucille

    • Dear Shirley,
      well, here we have a cost-benefit situation to consider. The problem you will see is that if you live in an area where the parasite problems are real, the so called natural tick and heartworm products really don’t cut it. One option is to call some vets and see what the incidence of heartworm and tick borne disease are in the area. If they only see one case every 6 months or something (per vet), the odds might be low. However, if they are seeing these diseases frequently, dealing with heartworm for example is a big deal and can kill a dog just as cancer can.
      So if you have to bite the bullet, go with the permrethrin products like K-9 advantix and a ivermectin based hearworm preventative product like heartguard. Of the products out there, these have the lowest carcinogenic potential among the lot.

  • Andres San Juan

    Hey Dr. Dressler.
    My Friend “Indi” is a 6 years old Lab with over a year of diagnosed Lymphoma on the Skin. The cancer So far has not spread or transformed into it’s multicentric form. It only remains on his skin. So far.
    “Indi” Has not gone trough chemotherapy (Lomustine) or any other medicines. At first, the only thing it was recommended was to start a regimen of Isiotretinoin (40 mg twice a day). I’ve been told that his cancer is quite agrressive (T.cells) and there was nothing we could do but to manage the life duration. So far, as i sad, its been one year after that and he only has 3 tumors on his skin. 2 of them are srhinking and one is not responding.
    We moved to Madrid, im originally from Venezuela, and Indi came along this exilie journey of mine. Here we changed Vets, got a new oncologyst and she says we should try Lomustine (chemotherapy) or the Med “Macivet” (as an experimental aproach since this med was design for “Mastiocitomas” (don’t know the word for it in english) wich is the european version of Palladia (I think).
    Thats where indi and me stand right now.
    I recently read you Guide, and also the Cancer Diet sub-Guide. I got enthusiastic about other options outthere. Not really want to get Indi on chemotherapy or something drastic, since, i’ve made my peace with whatever the future holds and rather see him as he is, than try anything that could harm him or change him just to add a few more years to his life count.
    So what im really here to ask, and im sorry for the lenght of this; is:
    I purchased the Apocaps, the Curcumin, Parsely, Teavigo’s Green Tea Extract, MCP, the K9 immunuty and the Mushrooms derived Polysacharieds, also talked with our vet for the Doxycicline. Is it ok to give all this supplements at the same time? As long as the dosages are proper, and i give things that need to be given between meals on an empty stomach and the others with food, and everything is done how it should be done, Should give all this things to indi? or should ir first try some, and if not getting result try another? im asking this, because, the Curcumin has Quecertin, and it should not be given with the EGCG right?. So if you could please point me in the right direction about this i would be gratefull.
    Thank You Dr. D
    I apologize for the length of this post or any writing mistakes, since english is not my main lenguage.
    Andrés San Juan,

    • Dear Andres,
      to answer your supplement question:
      if you are using Apcaps, EGCG and Curcumin are not needed. Otherwise they sound fine, as long as you have veterinary supervision.
      I hope this helps,
      Dr D

  • Mark

    Dear Dr. Dressler,

    We have an 8 year old rat terrier. About 2 years ago, we noticed a small growth on his forearm (fibrosarcoma) We had it removed. Unfortunately a few weeks later it grew back. We had it removed again and again it grew back. This happened a couple more times until we took him to an animal cancer center.
    He underwent radiation therapy for 3 1/2 weeks-5x/week. He’s been fine for about 18 months. A couple of weeks ago we noticed a tiny growth in the same area. Had it removed, and analyzed. Cancer is back.
    We’ve been given 4 options:

    Radiation therapy 3 1/2 weeks 5x/week
    Metonomic therapy
    Monitor for recurrence

    I was wondering what your thoughts on this are. Are there any other options, we haven’t explored? Would you seek another opinion?

    Thanks so much for your time and input.


  • Jean

    Dr. Dressler,
    Stella, my 12 year old Australian Shepherd, was recently diagnosed with nasal adenocarcinoma. Thank you and Dr. Ettinger for writing this book. It has been a blessing from the very first paragraph of the introduction. Stella is thoroughly enjoying the home-cooked meals and her special snuggle massage times. And I feel much more in control than I did on the day of diagnosis.

    I have two questions:
    #1. Venison is very clearly stated in the diet but can any other game be used? I have friends who hunt who are willing to share some of the meat with me to help defray the cost of this healthier diet. But I am uncertain what type of game I could use and what I would need to avoid. This might be information that others could use as well.
    #2. I haven’t made it all the way through the book yet but did not find any reference to heartworm preventative in the index. Are there any issues with continuing to give Heartgard?

    God bless you!

    • Demian Dressler

      Dear Jean
      lean meat of various varieties is usually no problem, but you need to be careful of parasites and should do low temperature cooking. Rabbit, goat, lean cuts of pig (with fat removed), fowl white meat, etc are all okay.
      I have no problem giving heartworm preventative to dogs with cancer.
      Don’t forget the other steps too in addition to diet (apoptogens, immune support, anti metastatic supplements, and deliberate daily efforts to increase life quality too)!
      Dr D

  • Jo & Julian

    Dear Dr Dressler,

    We have a 7 year old greyhound, Minnie who has pancreatic cancer with secondaries on the liver and possibly elsewhere. It was diagnosed after she had several epileptic seizures. She is now on 45mg phenobarb twice daily. Additionally, we have been giving her 3 capsules of Apocaps three time a day for the last four weeks.

    As recommended by our vet, we are feeding her at four-hourly intervals (at 8:00 12:00, 16:00, 20:00, 23:30) to maintain constant blood glucose levels. In accordance with the recommendations in your book, her diet is now based on fish, poultry or meat with a selection of.vegetables and oats. We give her organic produce wherever possible.

    Your book, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, covers a lot of material, but doesn’t discuss pancreatic cancer. Therefore, please could you advice us on the following:

    1. Should we feed Minnie a meal before bed? i.e is it essential that meals are every 4 hours or could it be 4 meals spread out a little more? Our concern is that she ends up going to bed late and therefore doesn’t get maximum night time sleep in total darkness to maximise melatonin production.

    2. As Minnie is eating more frequently is it essential that all meals have protein, vegetables and oats in them? i.e is it okay to feed her as we have been doing – some meals just porrdge, others just protein & vegetables?

    3. Your book mentions including cottage cheese and beef/chicken/pork liver in the diet. As Minnie has pancreatic cancer with secondaries in the liver can she eat these? What about garlic and ginger?

    4. Is it acceptable to wrap the phenobarb & Apocaps in bread to entice Minnie to eat them?

    Many thanks in anticipation of hearing from you.

    Jo and Julian

    • Dr. Demian Dressler

      Dear Jo and Julian
      I will do my best to answer your questions below:
      1. Feeding frequency should take priority over total darkness sleeping for your dog.
      2. I would balance the carbs with protein at least to minimize glucose fluctutions. Speak with your vet about this.
      3. I do not know whether she has liver failure (as opposed to just some loss of function)… does she have exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (as opposed to just some loss of function). If she does those factors take precendence otherwise we will be faced with the consequences of protein metabolites that may create brain issues (hepatic encephalopathy) , or digestive issues (due to pancreatic insuff). You need to ask your vet the degree of the function and if okay, we start every thing very gradually over 2-3 weeks to test the diet.
      4. i would avoid bread for a variety of reasons if possible in dogs with pancreatic cancer. Nonfat string cheese or chicken breast would be other options, but check with your vet.

      I hope this helps and good luck
      Dr D

  • ROSE

    My pug has liver cancer should I still give him his heartworm medicine?

  • There is no such thing that cures cancer in 1 day..if it was peolpe would not have babies and young and old die and go thru pure hell with this disease’ if they didn;t have to cancer is the worst disease to come around in a hundred years,,,,

  • Beth

    New to this site. Thanks for the great Information!

  • Tracy Kinney

    I have a frenchie that had a mast cell tumor removed from his hamstring. They couldn’t get clean margins. I have another frenchie with the same thing in the same spot but we have not done surgery yet on him. I also have a mini bull terrier with mammary tumors under two of her nipples. One nipple leaks clear fluid and I can squeeze and get more clear fluid out of it. She has had a mast cell removed from the center front of her chest years ago. Did chemo. I have put all three of them on artemisinin, turmeric, graviola, and butyraid. The lump on the frenchie leg has reduced in size since I added the graviola. The mini bull doesn’t seem to have as much fluid from the nipple now. Her lumps seem to be about the same in size, though.
    I just came across your site that says the graviola may not be good for dogs. What about using the graviola for a few weeks and then stopping for a while and starting back up at some point? Let me know your thoughts on this please. I love them so much and want to do what is best for them.

  • Megan

    Tracy, what kind of graviola are you giving? Pills or juice? And how much, how frequently? I have a golden retriever who is fighting cancer and I’m really considering giving him graviola but everything I’ve read is so mixed. Would love to hear how you’re doing it!

  • Rudy

    Dear Doctor,

    I was really optimistic about your website, however I am sorry I do not feel the same after reading this article and your comments. you are advising these troubled people not to use turmeric (that is curcumin), you are telling them Graviola doesn’t work well and you rather have them go through chemo? Curcumin and Graviola have saved countless animal and human lives. There are research papers boasting this accomplishments. It is people like yourself who make me doubt the moral ground our medical community has taken. People, please don’t feel helpless, do your OWN research, browse the web for user reviews, talk to people who have used these remedies. Your doctor will never tell you this, simply because its business. I have a 12 year old german shepherd with cancer. And my dog is my family. I will find out whatever I need to for saving him, I won’t direct my questions at others, I’ll do the research myself and take the decision on my finds.

    Mr. Dressler, may god bless your soul.

    PS – for my fellow animal lovers, find out about Vitamin B17 (aka laetrile), apparently it works better than anything else, read the reviews of people on amazon who used its supplements. Your family’s life is in your hands, not a doctor.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler

      I am sorry, you are incorrect.
      I have no issue with curcumin at all and use it regularly in my patients and myself.
      Here is a post that I wrote years ago:
      Guardianship and personal advocacy are a central part to my philosophy of animal care:
      Finally, there are very few that have done the actual reviews with various natural origin treatments that I have. The information I provide is research backed, including the recommendation to avoid Graviola until the product is standardized and we know each batch are safe for long term use in the thousands of dogs who would take it if I were to advise it. Yet, when there are issues related to safety, as indicated by actual evidence (not word of mouth, not online reviews, not indignation, just information), it is irresponsible of me to provide people with advise that may turn out bad, even if few dogs are actually affected.
      PS…read about the occasional laetrile toxicity secondary to cyanide. Does it always happen? Of course not.
      It is clear to that you have not read the Guide, and that you have not educated yourself on the information provided here. Condemnation before investigation usually leads to errors in judgement.
      Although, I do appreciate the prayers 🙂
      Best, Dr D

  • Donna

    Hi – I have a 5 year old Golden that had a mast cell tumor on his jip at 4 it was removed with clean margins – 11 months later we found 2 lumps – one on chest and one on hip – fibrosarcoma on both – removed clean margins – 4 months of everyday low dose chemo plus piroxicam – we finished 3 weeks ago – another lump – removed came back as hemangiopercytoma . he seems to be a cancer factory 3 types in a year and a half – is there anything that can be done to prevent?
    thank you in advance

    • Dr. Demian Dressler

      Dear Donna,
      there is a whole chapter on cancer prevention in the Guide which I would suggest you read. Some of my clients use the dog cancer diet, apocaps, and other steps mentioned in the guide with success. However, you should realize that if your dog is making multiple tumors, there is a fundamental genetically programmed metabolic shift that has occurred that will need long term, if not lifelong, intervention to some extent. I would think about long term treatment as opposed to prevention.
      Here is more for now:
      I hope this makes sense..
      Dr D

  • Joanne

    Hi there! Im sad to say my loved 5 year old lab cross, Bill had just been diagnosed with lymph cancer 🙁 he is on 20mg of macrolone daily.

    I am now planning on giving him 1000mg of soursop per day to see if this assists with killing cancer. If there are any side affects, i will cease immediately. Im thinking that he had only been given 2 months to live.. Miracles happen everyday!! ❤

  • LIly

    HI Dr. Dressler,

    I am grateful for any advice/guidance you can give regarding my 8.8 yr. old English Bulldog, Lily. She began having seizures in Sept.’13; she is now on Zonisamide, Phenob, and Prednisone. She does not have seizures, however her functioning, particularly overall mentation is going downhill. Got an MRI yesterday which revealed a very big brain tumor (inoperable) – covering alot of brain area – from thalamus to mid-brain, seemingly reaching to the brainstem. Cyberknife Radiosurgery was recommended as best course of action (I am going for a consult). I am leaning towards giving it a try (they rec. 3 sessions for her); however my husband feels it is time to let her go… I am not ready to give up on her.
    However, we are both very very interested in holistic remedies…I am seriously considering trying to purchase THC Hemp oil (the success stories, particularly one with a baby that had a huge, inoperable brain tumor, cannot be denied)…

    Lily is on s/o food (kibble), though I mix in organic chicken breast, sweet potato (she tends to have diarrhea at times and sensitive digestive issues), and some zucchini, string beans, etc.
    Thank You so much for any guidance/perspective!
    Mary , NY

  • Ivelisse

    Hello my 10 year old lab was diagnosed with lymphoma. I’m very sad as we consider her part of our family, chemo is not an option to us as it is very expensive. I read about this natural product call Tumexal . I would like to know you opinion on it, as it has very good reviews. Thank you for your input.

  • Ivelisee

    wow! Thank you for deleting my question about another product that really shows your love and compassion.

  • Susan Kazara Harper

    Hello Ivelisse,
    I’m sorry to hear about your lab’s diagnosis. However, there is a lot you can do. I hope you check out The Dog Cancer Survival Guide ( and The Dog Cancer Diet which is in the book, and you can get a free download of most of it on the main page of the blog.

    Regarding Tumexal; Dr. Dressler has reviewed the information the company will release, and unfortunately there just isn’t enough data.
    They don’t divulge the ingredients, and
    the information concerning efficacy, particularly related to the ingredients, and how it engages p53 is lacking both in the slides as well as in the narrative. They have given research on a well-known gene yet not provided evidence that the constituents act on this gene or its products. Until they are more forthcoming with the active constituents, how they work together, and the research on the active ingredients themselves, we cannot comment for or against it.
    The company does publish promising testimonials, three is just not enough published research .
    Give your lab a cuddle from me please. And take care of yourself through this.
    All the best, Susan

  • Susan Kazara Harper

    Ivelisee, There must be some confusion. We haven’t deleted anything, we just cannot always answer all the posts immediately. I hope you see the reply.

  • Anthony Tommo Thomas

    I was thinking of applying a spagyric tincture (from Mare Maia) to a growth on our Labrador as the vet does not want to operate. I was going to apply it topically. Any thoughts?

  • Susan Kazara Harper

    Anthony, More information please… what is the diagnosis? And why does the vet not want to operate?

  • Marius

    Awesome article.