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Banana Leaf: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Smita Barode

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction: 

We have all enjoyed a typical South Indian feast on a banana leaf. But have you wondered why people eat on a banana leaf? As per Indian culture, the banana leaf has religious importance and when we eat on a banana leaf, the food is considered ‘prasad’. In addition, serving hot food on banana leaves gives food a specific smell enhancing the taste and making it healthier and nutritious.1 The banana tree is the largest herbaceous flowering plant. The scientific name of the banana tree is Musa and belongs to the family Musaceae. It is primarily cultivated in Southeast Asian countries. Just like its fruit, banana leaves may also have various medicinal values. Banana leaves are green, tubular, and spiral about eight feet long, composed of a stalk and a lamina.2 Let us discuss some potential benefits of banana leaf, nutritional composition and much more. 

banana leaves uses

Did you know?

Nutritional Value of Banana leaf:  

Banana leave contains phytonutrients with a moisture content of about 60%.3 The nutrients present in banana leaf are: 

Nutrients  Value % dry matter 
Carbohydrate  5 % 
Fibre 72 % 
Lignin 5-10 % 
Hemi-cellulose 6-19 % 
Pectin 3-5 % 
Tannins 0.11 % 
Cellulose 60-65 % 
Selenium 24.9 % 
Potassium 11.6 % 
Calcium 8.0 % 
Magnesium 1.1 % 
Phosphorus 0.7 % 

Table 1: Nutritional value of banana leaf.2,3 

Fun fact: Other than medicinal uses, banana leaves may find their utilisation in textile industries as well. Banana leaves are highly sustainable plant products. To be specific, I recently read an article that says banana leaves are being used to form mats and ropes.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Properties of Banana leaf:  

The banana leaf contains bioactive phytonutrients that might play a role in various biological activities of the body. Some of the potential  

  • It may heal wounds 
  • It may heal ulcers 
  • It may have anti-cancer activity 
  • It may enhance digestion  
  • It may have anti-diarrhoeal activity 
  • It may act as antioxidant 
  • It may have an antibacterial and antifungal activity 1–6 

Potential Uses of Banana leaf for Overall Health:  

Apart from the benefits of banana fruit, the banana leaf may also have potential uses for human health. A few potential benefits of the banana leaf are: 

1. Potential uses of banana leaf for wounds 

The banana leaf may be used as a dressing on wounds like cuts, burns, and blisters. These tender leaves may provide a cooling effect on burns and the leaf may also be used with coconut oil to cover the blisters. This dressing may help in healing wounds quickly.4,5 However, more studies on humans are needed to support the potential uses of banana leaves for healing wounds. If you have any wounds or damaged skin consult your doctor and do not self-medicate.  

2. Potential uses of banana leaf for hiccups 

Everyone gets hiccups and they go away within a couple of minutes. But they are annoying and keep disturbing. People have endless tricks to get rid of them and we also got one trick you may try. Eating burnt banana leaves mixed with honey might stop your hiccups.4 However, there is no scientific evidence to claim. Therefore, consult your doctors before trying this trick. Do not self-medicate.  

3. Potential uses of banana leaf for skin care 

Our skin is sensitive and continuous exposure to the sun might cause harmful effects on the skin. It may cause skin redness and tanning. A study conducted by Wasule and his co-workers in 2018 found banana leaves may have a high amount of lignin (plant polymer). Lignin may help to form new cells and saves them from getting destroyed. Hence, banana leaf extract might be a suitable ingredient for making sunscreen gel for shielding against sunlight.3 However, human trials are needed to study the efficiency of sunscreen gel prepared from banana leaves. Therefore, consult a doctor before using banana leaves and do not self-medicate. 

4. Potential uses of banana leaf for stomach ailments 

Nobody likes the uneasy feeling in the stomach. The banana leaf may enhance digestive properties which might act against diarrhoea and dysentery. Drinking burned ashes of banana leaves dissolved in water might relieve flatulence, acidity, and indigestion. Some villagers use tender banana leaves with mustard oil to cover the stomach, which may help to relieve loose motion.4,5 However, this information is insufficient as there is no scientific proof for overcoming stomach ailments. Hence, it is essential to take medical advice from a doctor. 

5. Potential uses of banana leaf for diabetes 

An animal study (Kappel et al., 2013) showed that banana leaves may have anti-diabetic properties. When diabetic animals were given banana leaf extract, their insulin production may increase and reduce blood sugar levels. The component responsible for regulating the blood sugar level may be the flavonoid compound called rutin. Rutin may show potential activity against diabetes.7 However, this data is insufficient as this study is done on animals. Therefore, human studies are needed to support the true scope of banana leaves in fighting against diabetes. If you have diabetic issues consult the doctor and do not self-medicate.  

6. Other potential uses of banana leaf 

  • Banana leaf has a rich source of polyphenols which may act against cancer cells.1 
  • Fresh banana leaf juice may relieve people with psoriasis (itchy, scaly rashes on the skin).5 
  • Regular banana leaf juice intake in the morning might reduce cough and cold.2 
  • A piece of banana leaves may be used as a shade for the eyes in case of eye infections as it may give pleasantness to the eyes.5 
  • The juice of banana leaves might overcome the symptoms of heat or sunstroke.5 

Though studies show the benefits of banana leaves in various conditions, these are insufficient, and there is a need for further studies to develop the true scope of the benefits of banana leaves on human health. In addition, each person may respond differently to these herbs. Therefore, it is essential to consult a physician before using the banana leaf for any medical condition. 

How to Use Banana leaf? 

You may use the banana leaf in the following ways: 

  • It may be used for serving hot food due to its inexhaustibility and hard texture.1  
  • It may be used as a food wrapper for steaming fish and other dishes.4 
  • The fresh leaf may be crushed with water to make juice.5 

People should consult a qualified doctor before using banana leaves in large quantities. Further, we recommend not to replace or discontinue any ongoing treatment of modern medications with any ayurvedic or herbal preparations of the banana leaf without taking the medical advice of a doctor. They will guide you with its form and dosage per your health condition. 

Banana fruit is known to provide a big buffet of nutrients and the banana leaves are popular for a lot of other fields as well and not just as an edible fruit. I came across a report that said banana leaves are being used as a shield from rain.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Side Effects of Banana leaf 

There is a need for research on humans to state the side effects of banana leaves as there is insufficient information on the topic. Therefore, you should use banana leaves cautiously and consult Ayurvedic doctors to learn more about the possible side effects of banana leaves on humans. 

Precautions to Take with Banana leaf 

Banana leaf is used as a plate or for wrapping food so that it might be safe. However, following general precautions are always better. 

  • People with allergies to bananas or other parts must take precautions before using banana leaves, as it might cause allergic reactions. 
  • No major report says that banana leaf is safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Therefore, women need to consult a doctor before using banana leaves during pregnancy. 
  • Take extra precautions while using it for children and the elderly. 
  • Thoroughly wash the banana leaf before using it, as it might have dust particles. 
  • Sometimes banana plants get infected by bacteria, fungi, or viruses, which develop leaf spots. So, avoid using these kinds of banana leaves.4 

Interactions with Other Drugs 

There is no scientific data available stating the interaction between banana leaves and other drugs. Therefore, taking medical advice from Ayurvedic doctors before using banana leaves is better. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the significance of the banana leaf in Indian culture? 

Indian families use the banana leaf for serving traditional ceremonial feasts. It has religious importance in Indian culture. Eating food on a banana leaf may be healthy and the food served on it is eaten as prasad.1 

What are the essential minerals of the banana leaf? 

The essential minerals of the banana leaf include Calcium, Selenium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium.2 

How to use banana leaves? 

You may use a young banana leaf to prepare fresh juice. You may also use it as a wrapping for steaming fish or use it as a plate to serve food.1,4,5 

What are the benefits of banana leaves for the skin? 

The banana leaf contains a lot of lignin complex that helps to form new cells. So, one of the benefits of the banana leaf includes that it might be used to prepare sunscreen gel that may safeguard our skin against the harmful effects of sunlight.3 However, human trials are required to support the use of banana leaves for skin. 

Can banana leaves with spots be used for cooking? 

Avoid using banana leaves which have spots. Because the spotted leaves may have been infected by bacteria, viruses and fungi that might affect the quality of the leaf.4 

References  

1. Hegde S, Nair L, Chandran H, Irshad H. Traditional Indian way of eating- an overview. J of Ethn Foods. 2018;5(2018):20–3. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352618118300064/pdfft?md5=ab04cf3b5ff8b502996283811ca007c4&pid=1-s2.0-S2352618118300064-main.pdf 

2. Rajesh N. Medicinal benefits of Musa paradisiaca (Banana). Interna J of Bio Res. 2017;2(2):51–4. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331149921_Medicinal_benefits_of_Musa_paradisiaca_Banana 

3. Wasule D, Kawale A, Pandey D. Determination of Banana Leaf Extract for Sunscreen Property. Intern J for Res Tre and Innov. 2018;3(12):80. Available from: https://www.ijrti.org/papers/IJRTI1812014.pdf 

4. Sampath Kumar, Bhowmik D, Duraivel S, Umadevi M. Traditional and Medicinal Uses of Banana. J of Pharma and Phyto. 2012;1(3):51–63. Available from: https://www.phytojournal.com/vol1Issue3/Issue_sept_2012/9.1.pdf 

5. Pushpangadan P, Kaur J, Sharma J. PLANTAIN OR EDIBLE BANANA (MUSA X PARADISICA VAR-SAPIEMTUM) SOME LESSER-KNOWN FOLK USES IN INDIA. Anci Sci of Life. 1989;IX(1):20–4. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3331306/pdf/ASL-9-20.pdf 

6. Kumer Sahaa, Acharyaa S, Sohidul S, Shovon H, Royb P, Saha R. Medicinal activities of the leaves of Musa sapientum var. sylvesteris in vitro Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2013;3(6):476–82. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3644576/pdf/apjtb-03-06-476.pdf 

7. Kappel V, Cazarolli L, Pereira D, Postal B, Madoglio F, Buss Z da, et al. Beneficial effects of banana leaves (Musa x paradisiaca) on glucose homeostasis: Multiple sites of action. Rev Brasi de Farma. 2013;23(4):706–15. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260771917_Beneficial_effects_of_banana_leaves_Musa_x_paradisiaca_on_glucose_homeostasis_Multiple_sites_of_action 

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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