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R
aw Food Materia Medica
 


Bananas

© Brigitte Mars

Bananas (Musa acuminata, M. sapientum) are native to Malaysia, India, tropical Africa and Australia. Technically, bananas are not from a tree, but from a large perennial herb. They are members of the Musaceae (Banana) Family. They are the second largest fruit crop on the planet. In India, bananas are regarded as "food of the wise."

Bananas have a tendency to move energy inward in the body. They are considered cold and sweet. Bananas are rich in carbohydrates (mostly glucose and fructose), folic acid, B6, vitamin C, potassium and the fiber, pectin. They also contain an enzyme, which aids in the production of sex hormones. They provide long-term energy and improve stamina. Bananas are used to moisten the yin fluids of the body, including the lungs and large intestines. They have some antiseptic activity. They stimulate the proliferation of cells that provide a protective coating between the stomach and harsh acids. Bananas have been used to treat alcoholism, arteriosclerosis, celiac disease, colitis, constipation, depression, diarrhea, dyspepsia, exhaustion, hemorrhoids, hypertension, weak muscles, and ulcers. Bananas have been used to help insulin shock in diabetics. They support the friendly intestinal flora of the bowels.

Bananas are ripe when not green and dotted with brown spots. Unripe bananas are considered constipating, difficult to digest as they contain enzyme inhibitors, while ripe ones are considered laxative. Bananas provide nutrients lost in vomiting and diarrhea. They can improve sleep and elevate moods due to the presence of the serotonin, which is a precursor to tryptophan, and norepinephrine, needed for normal brain function. They are high in calories and can help the emaciated gain weight and are a common food among Japanese Sumo wrestlers. People on weight loss program also use them, as they are low in fat and filling. They are also an excellent food for pregnant mothers, babies and children. However those exceedingly cold, frail and lethargic, should use bananas in moderation. Bananas are very easy to digest, for those suffering from weak digestion, vomiting and emaciation. They can be mashed to be even easier to tolerate. In many parts of the world, banana is used instead of rice or potatoes.

Commercial bananas are picked unripe and treated with ethylene gas to hasten ripening. Avoid commercial gassed bananas and instead, place bananas in a paper bag to encourage natural ripening. Plantain is considered a cooking bananas. Use bananas as a snack, in puddings, pies, fruit salads, and smoothies. Bananas blended with water make nourishing banana milk. Try a sandwich of banana and raw almond butter. Freeze peeled bananas and run through a Champion -type juicer to make dairy free "ice cream." Dried bananas make a tasty sweet snack. To preserve ripe bananas, store them in the refrigerator, which will turn the skin brown, but not adversely affect the flavor. Or keep them in a dark plastic bag sealed with a twist tie, to preserve the peak of ripeness.

The inner peel of a banana is sometimes used to treat warts, boils, frostbite, burns, migraines, and rashes, when applied topically. Mashed bananas are applied as a facial to soothe and nourish fatigued skin.

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About The Author
Brigitte Mars is an herbalist, author and nutritional consultant in Boulder, Colorado. She is author of ...more
 
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