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Banana Leaves: Medicinal Benefits And Traditional Uses

Banana leaves are parts of a banana tree and are considered as nutritional and healthy as banana fruits. The leaves of bananas are easily available in various parts of India and are used in multiple ways, from treating certain illnesses to using them in culinary or as cattle feed.

In this article, we will discuss some of the amazing medicinal benefits and uses of banana leaves. Take a look.

1. Treat common cold and flu

The common cold and flu are the most occurring illnesses in the world. A study has shown that medicinal herbs, including plantain species, leaves such as banana leaves can be used as herbal medicine against such illnesses. Banana leaves have potent antioxidants which may help treat these minor conditions with the self-treatment method. [1]

2. Reduce fever

A study talks about the beneficial effect of all parts of banana against fever, including its leaves. The phytochemicals in banana leaves may help prevent or treat conditions like fever due to their antipyretic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. Drinking decoction made of banana leaves is considered health-promoting. [2]

3. Alternative for wound dressing

According to a study, banana leaves make for a cheap and efficacious wound dressing in many developing countries due to their excellency, inexpensiveness and easily available properties. The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of banana leaves are equal to those of petroleum jelly gauze dressing and thus, can help treat or fill the wound in a shorter time. [3]

4. Boost the immune system

Lectin, a type of protein, is abundantly found in banana leaves along with its pulp, says a study. [4] Lectin has strong immunomodulating properties that may help increase the count of T-cells in the body. T-cells are part of immune cells that help detect and mark the pathogens in the body and send signals to B-cells for their destruction. [5]

5. Reduces cellulite

Some anecdotal studies say that banana leaves may help reduce cellulitis in the body. This could be done by mashing the leaves and applying them on the skin where cellulitis are present. The polyphenols in the leaves help lower the cholesterol in the skin cells which are responsible for the development of cellulitis and thus, may help cut them down.

6. Good for hair

Banana leaves act as a great hair ingredient and may help get rid of certain hair problems like dandruff, itchy hair and grey hair. Some personal-based experiences of individuals say that chopping and crushing banana leaves to extract their water and then applying it over the hair, can help make the hair perfectly black, reduce grey hair and also strengthen their follicles.

7. Manages diabetes

According to a study, banana leaves are a potential source of rutin, a plant flavonoid that has anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects. This essential flavonoid in banana leaves may benefit diabetics by managing their glucose levels and preventing any risk of related complications. Banana leaves also help break down the maltose, a type of sugar, in the body whose increased amount indicates diabetes. [6]

8. Treats ulcers

Peptic ulcer disease is a condition characterised by painful ulcers in the lining of the stomach due to an imbalance of acid, pepsin and defensive factors like nitric oxide. A study talks about the anti-ulcer property of banana leaves. It says that the leaves contain flavonoids and many organic and inorganic compounds such as alkaloids, tannins, antioxidants and phenolic acids that may provide protective effects against gastric mucosal injury and treat the condition. [7]

Traditional Uses Of Banana Leaves

9. May improve appetite

Many long-term and short-term conditions such as liver disease, fever, kidney problems, food poisoning and hepatitis can reduce the appetite of a person. Such anecdotal studies say the aroma of banana leaves can help induce the appetite when served on a banana-wrapped plate.

10. May neutralise venoms

A study talks about the anti-venom activity of banana leaves against the toxicity induced by snake venom. It says that when the extract of banana leaves interacts with the proteins of snake venom, the tannins and polyphenols in the leaves tend to inactivate the toxic proteins and may reduce their effect to some extent. This is the reason why banana leaves paste is applied on snake bites for relief. The study needs more evidence. [8]

11. Make for a hygienic food wrap

Banana leaves are used traditionally due to many hygienic purposes. First of all, foods wrapped in banana leaves tend to stay toxic-free compared to plastic wrap, as no plastic toxins get mixed with the food. Secondly, the antibacterial properties of the leaves prevent the food from getting ruined due to bacteria and germs and keep it safe and fresh for a longer period. Also, eating on banana leaves does not require much cleaning and is eco-friendly.

12. Add a unique flavour to the food

Banana leaves are widely used in cooking. Foods that are wrapped and cooked (preferable steamed) in banana leaves is known to get vital plant compounds from the leaves like EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate), a polyphenol that is known to reduce many inflammatory and chronic diseases like cancer, heart diseases and Alzheimer's. Also, when hot foods are served on banana leaves, the waxy coating over them tends to meltdown and get mixed with food, thus providing a unique and subtle flavour to the food.

To Conclude

Banana leaves have none to minimal side effects and an abundance of medical benefits and traditional uses. However, only some of those benefits are backed by science while most of the benefits and uses are based on anecdotal studies or personal experiences. As banana leaves are considered herbs, it is always good to consult a medical expert before using them.

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