Medicinal Properties of the Banana Plant / Banana Tree
The banana tree is actually the largest herbaceous flowering plant in the world which on an average is 20 - 25 feet tall. There is a lot more to this humble fruit than meets the eye. This starch-rich fruit doubles as a meal many a time.
There are various varieties and shapes and sizes of bananas. It has been found that bananas have curative properties both scientifically and traditionally. Birds and animals - especially monkeys and elephants love bananas.
There are many healing and medicinal properties of bananas:
The high content of iron in bananas increases the production of hemoglobin in the blood -therefore they are very good for anemia.
They regulate bowel movement - whether it is constiption or diarrhea. Our elders believed that eating a banana after every meal improved digestion significantly.
When you suffer from a hangover - a banana milkshake with honey can give you immense relief. Cold milk soothes the stomach lining and bananas with honey build up depleted blood sugar levels.
Bananas are exceedingly good for students as the rich source of potassium can make a person very alert; the fruit is often called a brain tonic
Bananas work well as a snack for people who have high blood pressure as they are wholesome with low salt levels.
For those suffering from depression, bananas are good as they contain a protein called serotonin – which is also called the ‘happy hormone’ as it makes one feel happy and relaxed.
Bananas can be eaten frequently to treat ulcers as they neutralize acidity in the stomach. This soft and smooth fruit cannot irritate the stomach walls.
For pregnant women suffering from morning sickness, eating bananas in between meals helps immensely in settling the queasiness in the stomach.
Eating bananas helps people give up smoking as this fruit is rich in vitamin C, A, B6 and B12. Bananas contain potassium and magnesium as well, which help the body recover from nicotine withdrawal.
Bananas have an antacid effect, so people who experience heartburn find relief on eating a banana.
Potassium is a vital mineral which normalizes heartbeat while regulating the body’s water balance. As banana is a rich source of potassium, it re-balances disturbances of fluids in the body.
For weight watchers, banana is an excellent snack in place of crisps and chocolates. Research found that food craving during high pressure work could be assuaged safely and in a healthy manner by eating a banana every 2-3 hourly as it is a high carbohydrate food that controls blood sugar levels.
Topically, the peel of a banana – with the yellow side on top can be taped to a warts. It will shrivel and fall off.
The peel of a banana fruit can be rubbed on a mosquito bite with good effect, the stinging sensation stops and the swelling also reduces.
A ripe banana mashed and applied on the face is great at moisturizing and nourishing tired and dry skin.
When a bunch of bananas is harvested, the stem/tree is cut away. The tender inner stem is used as food and has many medicinal properties as well.
Layers of hard outer stem are peeled away and only the tender inner stem is used. It is very fibrous, so the thread fiber has to be cleaned. The stem is chopped into small bits and soaked in buttermilk or diluted yogurt for half hour. In Southern parts of India, it is cooked as a vegetable and eaten along with rice.
The banana stem has fiber – this is very beneficial for those on a weight-loss program. It is also a rich source of potassium and vitamin B6 which helps in the production of insulin and hemoglobin. Eating banana stem once a week keeps high blood pressure in control. Banana stem also maintains fluid balance within the body. It is a diuretic and helps detoxify the body. The popular belief is that eating banana stem is very good for kidney stones.
The banana flower grows at the end of a bunch of bananas. It is a leafy maroon colored cone with cream colored florets layered inside. These florets need to be cleaned well before they are cooked as a vegetable. The banana flower is rich in vitamins, flavonoids and proteins. The flower has been used in traditional medicine to treat bronchitis, constipation and ulcer problems. It eases menstrual cramps. The extracts of banana flower have antioxidant properties that prevent free radicals and control cell and tissue damage.
Banana Plant Leaves:
In India and Asia, banana leaves are used like aluminum foil. They are used to wrap food prior to steaming and grilling. The leaf makes an excellent platter and food served on these leaves tastes delicious. The leaves are not eaten but while steaming food some of the polyphenols are imparted to the food.
Red Skinned Bananas:
The peel of this type of bananas is a maroon red color and they are plumper than normal bananas. They are also highly nutritious - the vitamin C content depends on how red the banana is. The potassium content is high - more or less like the yellow bananas. The flavor of red bananas is unique and they are delicious and rare.