The dangers of Pawpaw consumption

I don’t know much about it, but saw a post on Our Figs, I did know about the toxin. I think i will avoid consumption for now though until more is learned.

Pawpaws contain Annonacin. here is a study, but I didn’t purchase so tells you little, just that it is present in pawpaw fruit.

The chemical is known to cause an atypical Parkinson’s disease.

Peterson is a well known breeder who patented many varieties. . He is showing signs of Parkinson disease in this recent grafting video. Look for yourself, the video is on this page.

Make your own mind up on how safe this fruit is or is not.


This has been discussed here before. People who like pawpaws tend to get very emotional and very defensive about this. But acetogenins are not the only potential health issue with pawpaws. Many people get various types of upset stomach after eating them, but there’s no indication that it’s being caused by the acetogenins, so there’s something else in pawpaw fruit that bothers some people. As for Neal Peterson, his Parkinson’s type symptoms have been widely noted for at least a year.

I eat about one pawpaw every year. I actually lost interest in eating them before the acetogenin problem became widely known. I have been growing them since the early 1990s. My son cannot eat them because they cause him stomach problems. My wife won’t eat them because there’s just something about them she doesn’t like.

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Well maybe you knew a year ago or so, i didn’t, and that video is enough for me. I thought the toxin was no big deal, that the amount was small, my bad. I added some last year, they will be removed now.


Catanea is right. A long discussion about this toxin topic was inside one of pawpaw threads.

However, Drew’s heading of this thread makes it stands out even more. Maybe, more people will see it. People can make their own judgment. It’s good to have the info.


In mentioning Neal’s history I was not implying any criticism of your post at all. I was just supporting it. People don’t like to talk about Neal’s problem, and so many people don’t mention it, but it’s not new. I am really glad you posted this.

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There are toxins in many things we eat. It’s been discussed here in several threads. Here’s one

I have no idea whether or not paw paws are a potential health problem. But making inferences that seem to suggest that anyone can observe Neil Peterson for a few minutes and then diagnose him with Parkinson or “parkinson-like” problems seems absurd. We know nothing about his health history, that of his parents, whether he may even know the cause of his symptoms (which he may), or what of a million possible illnesses (if any) he may have or what causes them. More importantly, these kinds of inferences that seem to suggest that IF (a huge if) he has some kind of parkinson-type disease that it was caused by consuming paw-paws is an even bigger leap. People often criticize health studies of hundreds of patients as having too small a sample size, but to suggest or infer that Neil Peterson is sick because of Paw Paws is using a sample size of exactly ONE. Seems like it would be good to know if more than one person who eats a lot of paw paws is showing similar symptoms.

Like @mamuang, I think there is nothing wrong with telling people about this concern so I promise I am in no way condemning anyone for the post or thread- heck, we are here to learn about fruit and this is how we do that. I just also wanted to say that I don’t think watching someone in a video who may or may not have health problems of some kind (perhaps he is taking medication for some other illness that has a side effect) and then suggesting that those health problems are paw-paw related seems to be putting the cart about 2 miles before the horse. Just one opinion.


Neal’s Parkinson-like symptoms have been discussed for at least a year online. If his symptoms are not related to eating pawpaws all he has to do is say - “My medical problems, if any, are not related to eating pawpaws. Please respect my privacy.”

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So since there are already many toxins in many things we eat, we should eat more toxins? Many people certainly have that approach to consuming toxic substances, but I can’t find any logic in that approach. Here’s a better approach -
evaluate each food you eat, and its potential toxins, on its own merits.


I was the one who posted the link to the original in the forum

As someone who grew up eating custard apple in the tropics, an incredible delicious fruit, this was a rude and scary wake up call. I also have an aunt with severe Parkinson’s disease that we suspect is linked to pesticide exposure.

It is just not worth it. There are too many other tasty fruits out there.

what did you add and when will you be removing them?


I understand your position and as I said, nothing wrong with you stating your own opinion- that’s what I’m doing. But maybe Neal thinks his health is no one else’s business. And perhaps he has no idea what the cause of his problem is-if there is one. If he doesn’t, I’d think there would be a very long list of possible causes that would be more likely than paw paw poisoning. There are some people right here in this site who have consumed large amounts of paw paws for many years and don’t have any ill-effects. I don’t think that proves paw paws are safe any more than Neal’s condition, if any, should be presented as evidence that they are unsafe. The experience of one paw paw eater just isn’t a large enough sample size to draw even a suspicion. I suspect parkinsons itself is a far, far more common cause of his symptoms than paw paw poisoning, so it seems to me that it would be more natural to watch the video and conclude he has parkinson with the same origins as all parkinsons patients. Or that he has a nerve problem, brain tumor, or any of a long list of known and more common causes of those symptoms than paw paw consumption.

I have much respect and admiration of you and your helpful posts in the past, @castanea, so let me state one more time that I’m just respectfully stating on opinion on this one topic that differs from your view and your use of Neal’s video as possible evidence paw paws are bad-no more or no less. I don’t think we can watch a few minute video of a man we know nothing about and use that to suggest he is sick and that the cause of his sickness is paw paw consumption. We need confirmation of illness, a health and family history, extensive medical testing, a study of large numbers of paw paw eaters, medical professional analysis of all this information, statistically significant causation proofs (not just correlation) and more. This is hearing horse hoofs and looking for not zebras but for some rare bird.


I haven’t read the article yet, but more needs to be known than just the presence of a toxic substance before getting overly concerned about a fruit. I plan to research this before getting too attached to my two baby pawpaw trees. But it should be pointed out that many fruits including plums, cherries and apples contain small amounts of hydrogen cyanide. So questions like how much of this toxin is dangerous? How much is in paw paw? and the like are important to know before getting too excited. Heck most drinking water has all kinds of toxic bromides and chlorides added. And some chemicals that are poisonous at some doses are beneficial at other doses. More info is simply needed.


Are we getting more and worse total toxins when eating a few or dozen pawpaw than what we are getting in the other foods we eat. It’s doubtful that a day goes by that we don’t consume a toxin. How does that compare with what we get from pawpaws. Maybe the toxins in pawpaws are much worse than what we typically consume and if that is the case we should be very cautious.

Great discussion above.
As several have pointed out; many plants do have toxins so does it make sense to stop consuming them?

In the case of Pawpaws, there is direct evidence linking consumption of its relative: the custard apple to onset of Parkinsons. This is not an isolated study. There are numerous similar papers.
In the case of other fruits, there is far less of a connection linking their consumption to something as severe as Parkinsons.

In each case, one has to make an evaluation of the cost/benefit of performing an action, such as consuming a fruit.

Crossing a street could result in your being involved in an accident, so should you avoid crossing the street? Similarly going out in the sun could cause melanoma, would you avoid going out in the sun?

In each of the above cases, there is a clear benefit. i.e: crossing the street that in most people’s minds far outweighs the cost of not doing so.

In the case of custard apple: the benefit (atleast to me) is much more limited. Most people on this forum, I would wager have never tasted one. And they are all pretty happy with their lives.
While it is an extremely tasty fruit (as I also expect the Pawpaw also to be), there are other fruits that are very good without the same potential risk. Parkinson’s is a very nasty disease.

Until it is better understood, I will limit/eliminate my consumption of Annonaceae fruits.

Whether you choose to stop consuming these plants or not is your personal decision.


It’s not just a few minutes of video. There has been discussion of his possible problem on the internet for at least a year. I don’t know how Neal could not be aware of what people are saying. As someone who promotes the pawpaw industry and makes money off the pawpaw industry, you would think he would speak up and tell people his symptoms have nothing to do with pawpaw consumption.

Plums etc do not have acetogenins. Pawpaws have acetogenins. That’s a fact. The primary acetogenin in pawpaws is annonacin. That’s another fact. Annonacin is toxic to cortical neurons. Another fact. Here’s a discussion of annonacin in Annona muricata -
“Both alkaloids and annonacin, the most abundant acetogenin, were toxic in vitro to dopaminergic and other neurons. However we have focused our work on annonacin for two reasons: (1) annonacin was toxic in nanomolar concentrations, whereas micromolar concentrations of the alkaloids were needed, (2) acetogenins are potent mitochondrial poisons, like other parkinsonism-inducing compounds. We have also shown that high concentrations of annonacin are present in the fruit or aqueous extracts of the leaves of A. muricata, can cross the blood brain barrier since it was detected in brain parenchyma of rats treated chronically with the molecule, and induced neurodegeneration of basal ganglia in these animals, similar to that observed in atypical parkinsonism. These studies reinforce the concept that consumption of Annonaceae may contribute to the pathogenesis of atypical parkinsonism in Guadeloupe.”

And here are the results of a study on annonacin in pawpaws-
The average concentration of annonacin in the fruit pulp was 0.0701±0.0305mg/g. Purified annonacin (30.07μg/ml) and crude EtOAc extract (47.96μg/ml) induced 50% death of cortical neurons 48h post treatment. Annonacin toxicity was enhanced in the presence of crude extract.
Pawpaw fruit contains a high concentration of annonacin, which is toxic to cortical neurons. Crude fruit extract also induced neurotoxicity, highlighting the need for additional studies to determine the potential risks of neurodegeneration associated with chronic exposure to pawpaw products.”

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Eating pawpaw is safe. I suggest reading Andy’s Moore Pawpaw Book page 107-108 before making any strong statements.


If he did, i would not believe him. I don’t mind risks, i use synthetic pesticides, think they are safe, but when it comes to these neurons, losing one is a great loss as far as I’m concerned. How much exposure do you get from handling them, or even being near these trees? Skin absorption etc.
To me it’s like asking the question how much lead is OK in your water to drink? Do these toxins remain and build up in your system? No pawpaws will pass my lips ever again.

I’m certainly not saying Neal has Parkinsons or am I condemning Paw Paws. I can tell you from first hand experience that his motor skills problems are very Parkinson-like. I had a very close family member die from Parkinsons and watching Neal in that video brought back a lot of memories of that. We all play doctor in our own heads sometimes. It’s human nature to see someone with a condition and try to determine what the ailment is. Hopefully Neal was just nervous.