Banana leaves are very abundant in tropical countries like Indonesia, thanks to the warm climate and its widespread distribution. This make the banana trees to be visible anywhere, from backyards to forests. The wide distribution of banana leaves has also been made into everyday utilization, particularly in villages.
For example, in cooking banana leaves can be used as a garnish, wrapping or a plate, medicine, body treatments, religious rituals, among others. Unfortunately, the benefits of banana leaves have not reached the western world. But nonetheless, these are some information and advantages of banana leaves, as well as banana leaf benefits for hair.
Uses of Banana Leaves
Banana leaves are among the most multipurpose plants around thanks to its large, flexible, waterproof yet durable characteristics.
In cooking, like what is mentioned above they are mostly used as a garnishing, wrapping, or a substitute for plates. Banana leaves have significant presence in Southeast Asian, Indian, Polynesian, Latin American as well as Caribbean cuisine because they add aroma to the food it contains while protecting the food from burns, in fact better than how foil does it. Cuisines that sees banana leaf presence are for example, Indonesian steamed rice dishes (such as lemper, lontong, and nasi timbel), satay, Indian banana leaf rice, among others.
In religious rituals, banana leaves have decorative and symbolic purposes as seen in Buddhist as well as Hindu ceremonies or offerings to the gods. For skincare, banana leaves can be used as a body wrapping during spa, as seen in traditional Balinese spa. Indeed, banana leaves were also used as one of the earliest surfaces for writing in South and Southeast Asia, long before the invention of paper.
By the way, what are the health benefits of banana peel?
What are its Health Benefits?
- Banana Leaves Contain Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG)
Epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG is a polyphenol that is similar to those found in green tea. EGCG belongs to the family of catechins, contains 3 phenol rings and of course some amazing antioxidant properties.
- Banana Leaves Contain Strong Antioxidants
Banana leaves contain strong levels of antioxidants that are attributed to the level of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) it possesses. As an antioxidant, it protects the cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals cause a number of disease and disorders, from the light ones as in skin aging, up to chronic and life-threatening ones like cancer, stroke, artiosclerosis, as well as cardiac arrest.
- Banana Leaves are Usable for Skincare
Minor dermatological wounds and conditions, such as eczema or sunburn can be cured with the help of banana leaves. In the sense of sunburn treatment, it can be treated by soaking the leaves on cold water and apply it on the affected area. And next there is also the special Balinese body wrap treatment that uses predominantly banana leaves. This particular type of skincare is mixed with green tea clay to rehydrate, rejuvenate and replenish the skin.
- Banana Leaves Provide Treatment to the Hair
Next, banana leaves provide treatment to the hair in terms of getting rid of dandruff. As one realizes, dandruff not only causes discomfort by making the scalp itch, it also leads to self esteem issues such as a significant decrease in self-esteem, and public perception towards ourselves.
On the other hand, banana leaves are also proven to be able to maintain our natural hair colour, thanks to the astringent and allantoin properties it carries. Dandruff can be gradually gotten rid of by using hair masks made out of fresh banana leaf juice.
- Banana Leaves Treat Common Skin Problems
Here come the medicinal properties of banana leaves. It is true that banana leaves act as a medicine for treating various common skin problems, such as for rashes, insect bites, stings, and irritation caused by bees, ants, spiders, or other insects. That is also why banana leaves are also labeled as “the natural eraser.” Banana leaves could come in handy in the event of no insect repellent lotions or the unavailability of nearby medical treatments.
- Banana Leaves Support Skin Growth
Skin growth with the help of banana leaves become possible thanks to the chemical compound it carries known as the Allantoin. Allantoin is commonly found inside plant leaves, including the ones from banana tree, and can be seen as an active ingredient for cosmetic lotions and creams. Allantoin when applied to the skin help to make healing a faster process, kill germs as well as stimulating the growth of new skin layers.
- Banana Leaves Protect Foodstuff
Banana leaves protect food that it is contained, that is why various cultures use banana leaf for food preparation or wrapping. This is done by making the food more aromatic, hygienic, flavorful, slower decaying speed, and protecting it from extreme temperatures such as in burns. In terms of flavors, as the food is placed on the leaves, the wax of the leaves melts and is absorbed into the food, thus making it taste better.
- Banana Leaves are Environmentally Sustainable
The banana leaves are environmentally sustainable because they eliminate the need of plastic or Styrofoam to wrap food. As we all know, these two items are non-biodegradable and takes significant amount of time to decompose. Meanwhile, banana leaves are biodegradable and decomposes easily.
- Banana Leaves are Hygienic by Default
Banana leaves are hygienic by default first it requires low efforts of cleaning. One only requires water to rinse the banana leaf before it is ready to be used. And then, in tribute to its protective nature, banana leaves are also able to make the food inside protected from infecting germs, bacteria or viruses, especially in areas where the hygienic standards are pretty much questionable.
- Banana Leaves Have Low Chemicals
Here comes the final banana leaf benefits for hair. Being low in chemicals, that makes the banana leaf to be healthy and organic when made into hair scalp. On the other hand, banana’s hygienic properties only require a brief water rinse for sterilization, thus lessening the need for detergents, which may also pose risk to the food that is about to be contained there.