Musa sapientum (Family: Musaceae), known as banana, is a familiar tropical fruit. It finds its origin from native South-Western Pacific home and spread to India later on. Later, it spreads into the Islands of the Pacific and to the West Coast of Africa as early as 200-300 BC. Musa sapientum is a treelike perennial herb that grows 5-9 m in height, with tuberous rhizome, hard, long pseudo-stem. The inflorescence is big with a reddish-brown bract, and it is eaten as vegetables, and the ripe fruits are sweet.
Banana not only is delicious, but also has a lot of medical value.
This fruit is made of water (75%), carbohydrate (23%), proteins (1%), fatty acids (0,3%) and alimentary fiber (2,3%) and their proportions can change according to the grade of maturation and species. Moreover, pulp contains lots of vitamins such as vitamin A, B2, B1, C, PP, B6 (it promotes protein’s metabolism) and E, and it is full of minerals as calcium, phosphorus, iron and potassium.
However, most important and studied effects of bananas are:
• inhibition of hiv replication
• improving physical performances
• prevention from hypertension and stroke
• cure for depression
• regulation of bowel’s motility
• cross reaction in allergies.
• antiacid action on stomach
Now let’s focus on the effect antiacid, various researchers have reported that bananas pulp protect the gastric mucosa in the laboratory animals against NSAIDs and other ulcerogens. Also, it appears to stimulate growth of the gastric lining after damage has occurred.
What is the peptic ulcer?
Peptic ulcer is a sore that forms in the lining of the stomach or the duodenum. A peptic ulcer results from an imbalance between some endogenous aggressive factor(s) [hydrochloric acid, pepsin, refluxed bile, leukotrienes, reactive oxygen species ROS] and cytoprotective factors, which include the function of the mucus-bicarbonate barrier, surface active phospholipids, prostaglandins (PGs), mucosal blood flow, cell renewal and migration, non-enzymatic and enzymatic antioxidants and some growth factors.The pathogenesis of ulcers is multifactorial and includes diverse factors such as a stressful lifestyle, alcohol consumption, use of steroidal and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and drugs which stimulate gastric acid and pepsin secretion, Helicobacter pylori infections, smoking, lower socioeconomic status and family history.
The pattern and distribution of gastritis strongly correlate with the risk of clinical duodenal or gastric ulcers, mucosal atrophy, gastric carcinoma or gastric lymphoma.
The main therapeutic target is the control of gastric secretion using antacids, H2 receptor blockers like ranitidine, famotidine, anticholinergics like pirenzepin, telezipine or proton pump blockers like omeprazole, lansoprazole, etc. The prevention or cure of peptic ulcers is one of the most challenging problem in medicine because gastric ulcer therapy faces drawbacks and most of the drugs currently available in the market show limited efficacy against gastric diseases and are often associated with severe side-effects.
The development of new anti-ulcer drugs from medicinal plants is an attractive proposition, because diverse chemical compounds with anti-ulcer activities have been isolated from these plants, and they have shown to produce promising results in the treatment of gastric ulcers. The bioactive molecules (generally alkaloids, glycosides, lupeols, essential oils, e.t.c) isolated from crude extracts have been used directly as therapeutic agents or as starting materials for the synthesis of useful drugs or serve as a model for pharmacologically active compounds in the process of drugs in synthesis.
Banana as a drug
The use of Musa sapientum pulp in peptic ulcer as a component of herbal medicine has been evaluated and found effective. Some studies reported that pectin and phosphatidylcholine in green banana strengthens the mucous-phospholipid layer that protects the gastric mucosa. Other studies highlight reported that leucocyanidin, a natural flavonoid from the unripe banana (Musa sapientum) pulp, protects the gastric mucosa from erosions. Leucocyanidin and the synthetic analogues, hydroxyethylated leucocyanidin and tetra-allyl leucocyanidin were found to protect the gastric mucosa in aspirin-induced erosions in rat by increasing gastric mucus thickness. In addition to what other studies provide evidence on anti-ulcerogenic activity of banana pulp powder in aspirin-, indomethacin-, phenylbutazone-, prednisolone-induced gastric ulcers, and cysteamine- and histamine-induced duodenal ulcers in rats and guinea-pigs, respectively.
Furthermore, people from the South-Western Nigeria do blend the dried Musa sapientumpeels with the yam flour, which is one of their stable foods. Folklore has it that this meal has ameliorative effect on the patients with gastric pain and ulcer.
The Leucocyanidin is a colorless chemical compound, belonging to the group of leucoantociani idrossiflavani, which is extracted from many plants including banana (Musa sapientum) pulp; increases capillary resistance , antagonizes the loss fraction of blood elements and normalizes capillary permeability .
The mechanism of action
The mechanism of action of Musa sapientum is by stimulating the growth of the gastric mucosa by increasing mucosal protein i.e. sialic acid and hexosamine, which in turn increase the production of mucus and thus prevent erosion by the ulcer. These significant increased levels of sialic acid and hexosamine correlated with the increased mass of mucosa in the stomach of animals treated with banana. The mode of action of the banana appears to be unlike that of conventional anti-ulcerogenic drugs in that it promotes mucus secretion by stimulating the growth of mucosal cells. The regenerated mucosa cells would rapidly seal damaged areas with a secretory layer of mucus and prevent further erosions due to gastric HCl and pepsin. The active components such as leucocyanidin may be responsible for the antiulcer properties and protect the mucosa by stimulation of cell proliferation, promoting mucus secretion, increasing mucus resistance, inhibiting the Hcl secretion and thus healing the ulcer.
Sections of (a) ulcerated stomach of control groups untreated with MEMS; (b) ulcerated stomach of rat treated with OMP; © ulcerated stomach of rat treated with MEMS, after 7 days of treatment. Sections of (d) ulcerated stomach obtained from acetic acid-induced ulcer model in control rats; (e) ulcerated stomach rats treated with OMP; (f) ulcerated stomach treated with MEMS, after 12 days of treatment. The arrow point towards regeneration and angiogenesis
Finally, it was shown that the presence of many active constituents like flavonoids, saponins, glycosides and alkaloids in MSE, having prominent anti-hyperglycemic, antioxidants and ulcer healing properties, may contribute in healing of chronic diabetic gastric ulcer possibly by decreasing gastric mucosal cytokines, IL-1β (Interleukin-1β) and TNF-α (Tumor necrosis factor-α) and enhancing, growth factor, TGF-α (Transforming growth factor-α). The possible control of blood sugar level by MSE (Musa sapientum extract) has additionally reversed the adverse effects of diabetes on ulceration and cytokines. PTX (Pentoxyphylline), an inhibitor of TNF-α, a prominent inflammatory marker, and MSE showed better healing effect in DR-AA rat than omeprazole or insulin. Thus, MSE could be a better choice in diabetes with concurrent peptic ulcer.
We can conclude by saying that the positive effects of the banana are quite comparable, if not better than the antacid drugs still on the market.