by Sayer Ji
originally October 03,
updated March 09, 2019
There is much more than meets the eye with the banana.
favorite, a lost-leader at the grocery store, a metaphor for
psychiatric problems, a mainstay of comic slap stick, the banana has
woven itself deeply into human affairs, on both gut and mental
And this relationship is at least 10,000 years old, as far
as conscious human cultivation of the species goes.
But, many do not realize that the banana is more than just an
exceptionally starch-rich fruit, but has a complex biochemistry,
with unique pharmacologically active properties which scientists
Bananas actually contain the catecholamines dopamine [i] and norepinephrine,
[ii] the very same adrenal hormones released in the
human body when it undergoes the typical "fight-or-flight" response.
It is believed that the banana plant uses the biosynthetic pathway
for catecholamines when under the stress of attack to fight off
infectious pathogens such as in crown rot disease. [iii]
varieties excrete a form of serotonin in their sap, [iv] and there
is even mention in the biomedical literature of the discovery of the NSAID drug
naproxen (trade name
Aleve) within the banana cultivar
Well, that's to be expected from a fruit we commonly
associate with a state of unbridled madness.
But the banana has a secret second life. It has been observed slyly
practicing medicine without a license, and indeed, seems readily
equipped with the following nutritional "super powers"...
Green Banana Is Anti-Diarrhea
Before a banana is ripened, while it is in its green state, it
contains starches which are resistant to digestion, but have been
studied in combination with pectin to significantly reduce
intestinal permeability and fluid loss in those suffering with bouts
of diarrhea. [v] [vi]
Even when used without pectin, green banana has
been found to hasten recovery of acute and prolonged childhood
diarrhea when managed at home in rural Bangladesh. [vii]
Banana Is Anti-Ulcer Activity
Banana powder has been studied to prevent ulcer formation induced by
a variety of drugs, including,
Researchers have found that
banana powder treatment not only strengthens mucosal resistance
against ulcerogens but also promotes healing by inducing cellular
One of the anti-ulcer compounds identified
within unripe banana is the flavonoid known as
which is particularly effective against aspirin-induced erosion.
Banana Peel Suppresses Prostate Gland Growth
Banana peel has been found to suppress testosterone-induced prostate
gland enlargement. [x]
Banana Stem Extract suppresses Oxalate Kidney Stones
A water extract of banana stem extract has been found to suppress
the formation of oxalate-associated kidney stones in the animal
model, leading researchers to conclude that it "may be a useful
agent in the treatment of patients with hyperoxaluric
Banana Consumption Protects the Skin Against UV-Light Damage
UV-B light induced skin damage may be prevented or reduced through
the consumption of bananas, with a protective effect against loss of
skin elasticity. [xii]
Banana Has Anti-Diabetic Properties
Banana flower extract has been studied in a type 1 diabetic
model, [xiii] and has been found to have both antioxidant and blood
sugar lowering effects.
Banana root extracts have been discovered to
contain blood sugar lowering properties comparable in efficacy to
the drug glibenclamide (trade name Glyburide). [xiv]
banana contain starches resistant to hydrolysis and therefore
beneficial to diabetics. [xv]
Banana Contains a Variety of Anti-Infective Compounds
Banana contains compounds with demonstrable,
activity [xvii] [xviii]
transformation by fungi, anti-leishmanicidal activity [xix]
leaves of the plant are used in many centers in India during the
care of patients with toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) and other
extensive blistering disorders which can result in deadly sepsis in
the absence of treatment. [xx]
Whatever you do, don't slip up and buy non-organic bananas. Like
other foods that are grown in massive monocultures, without crop
rotation, they are a pesticide-intensive crop.
And this concern
extends beyond simply what agrochemicals you are exposing your body
In conventional farming, the planet gets carpet-bombed as well
with these nasty toxicants, and since we all live on the same Earth,
eventually those pesticides make it back up the food chain to you,
whether you choose to eat organic or not.
H Sakakibara. High content of dopamine, a strong
antioxidant, in Cavendish banana. J Agric Food Chem.
2000 Mar ;48(3):844-8. PMID:
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R PARRATT. A note on the presence of noradrenaline and
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Lepoivre, M Haïssam Jijakli. Catecholamine biosynthesis
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Valladares, Luis Rivas. Fungus-elicited metabolites from
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