Banana extracts stop migraines, bleeding’

Going bananas? Scientists say that is the way to go. Recent studies suggest that the fruit and sap of banana (Musa sapientum) tree may be the novel ‘cure’ for migraines, ulcer, high blood pressure, bleeding, post-surgical wounds, among others. CHUKWUMA MUANYA writes.

BOTANICALLY known as Musa sapientum, banana is an herbaceous plant of Musaceae family.

Until now, several studies have shown that extracts of banana could be used for the treatment of gastric ulcer, hypertension, diarrhea, dysentery and diabetes. The anti-diabetic effect of the leaves, stem, fruit, root and flower; as well as anti-ulcerative properties of unripe bananas have been demonstrated.

Other researches showed banana has antimicrobial properties and can used in the treatment of excessive menstruation.

Indeed, studies on the properties of the banana, especially of its pulp, have shown that it is rich in flavonoids and leucocyanidin, which are compounds known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-neoplastic properties and liver-protective activity. The peel it showed potent antihypertensive activity in renal hypertensive rats.

Neoplasm is the abnormal new growth of tissue in animals or plants or rather a tumour.

There are also studies in the literature reporting on the use of the peel and leaves of the banana plant to improve epithelialization and alleviate pain in the treatment of chronic wounds.

Epithelialization is healing by the growth of epithelium over a denuded surface.

A multicenter study showed that banana was useful in the treatment of ulcer dyspepsia; however, its medicinal use is still incipient. Banana has also been shown to promote cellular alteration of the mucosa and increases the synthesis of DNA without carcinogenic or mutagenic effects.

But the story of a British mother who claimed the banana fruit cured her of crippling migraines after 20 years has prompted more interest into the medicinal benefits of banana.

According to a story monitored in Daily Mail Online, a mother-of-two who has been plagued by migraines for almost 20 years says she has been cured after snacking on bananas.

Lisa Poyner, 38, used to suffer episodes that left her bed ridden for days at a time, and tried out dozens of medications to try and relieve her condition. But she realised she could head off attacks if she snacked on the fruit as soon as she felt the symptoms coming on.

However, for the first time, researchers have demonstrated that the sap from the stem of banana plant could be used to stop bleeding and heal wounds.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science concluded: “The traditional use of sap of M. sapientum in the treatment of bleeding is warranted. And its mechanism of action results from a part of it causes vasoconstriction and secondly from the formation of a protein network that serves as a focal point to cell aggregation and the bleeding stops.”

The study is titled “Haemostatic potential of the sap of Musa sapientum L. (Musaceae).”

The Beninoise researchers wrote: The use of M. sapientum in the treatment of bleeding is very common in the South – Benin. Indeed, this plant is used as a hemostatic in Brazil and India. But this study is the first that has focused on assessing the power of hemostatic M. sapientum.

“The addition of sap in whole blood induced a reduction of Clotting Time (CT) significance with an effect not dose dependent. The action of sap on the CT does not appear related to the typical cascade of coagulation reactions typical of coagulation since the addition of sap in plasma did not alter the prothrombin time nor the activated partial thromboplastin time. The sap therefore has no effect on clotting factors (II, V, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII and XIII) of both intrinsic and extrinsic ways. This particular mechanism of action registered sap in the same category as the hemostatic with nonspecific action on the coagulation cascade.

“The decreasing proteins concentration in the supernatant serum after the addition of sap indicates that proteins have become networks. This interaction between sap-protein seems linked to the presence of tannins in the sap.

“Studies on the hemostatic properties of Jatropha multifida and Annona senegalensis have already underlined the role of tannins on the blood proteins. Indeed, the tannins have the ability to transform certain soluble proteins insoluble because of the chemical bonds that develop between them and the tannins. They are bristling with phenolic hydroxyl groups capable of reacting with strong hydrogen bonds with the atoms of the peptide binding protein, which rendered insoluble proteins increases blood viscosity and inhibit the movement of red blood cells. That’s what facilitates their aggregation.

“Like fibrin, we believe that the protein network formed behaves like a net that traps red blood cells but also platelets and leukocytes. The cell aggregation has a significant effect on hemodynamics in vivo. Increased aggregation produced locally in each capillary will immediately disrupt blood flow. This could lead to a reduction in time and volume of bleeding. The haemostatic effect of sap can be enhanced by its astringent properties. Indeed astringent activity favors vasoconstriction, which is an important parameter in hemostasis.”

Scientists have also used gel from unripe banana peel to repair surgical wounds in rats.

The Brazilian researchers in the study published in Acta Cirurgica Brasileira concluded: “The gel of unripe banana peel in the concentration of four per cent improved the wound healing process in rats compared to the other gel concentrations as evidenced by the smaller residual wound area.”

The researchers wrote: “A study on the use of M. sapientum var. paradisiaca extracts was based on the premise that, since the plant has a healing action when used to treat gastric ulcers, it could also be used to treat skin wounds.

“The authors used techniques that allowed the assessment of the contraction of the scar surface area, epithelialization time, and presence of antioxidants. Rats were treated with aqueous and alcoholic extracts of M. sapientum var. paradisiaca for a period of 21 days.

“The results were satisfactory regarding the antioxidative properties of the extracts14. However, the use of the gel of unripe banana peel in wound healing by secondary intention is not well documented. The high economic and social costs for both the government and patients associated with the treatment of wounds are an important motivation for the search of new therapeutic alternatives.

“Therefore, if the effectiveness of unripe banana in the treatment of surgical wounds is confirmed, it will be an important step towards the development of a new alternative wound treatment. The identification of an extract prepared from either the peel or pulp of unripe bananas gives rise to new therapeutic possibilities.”

Another study published in Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry noted that all parts of the banana plant have medicinal applications: the flowers in bronchitis and dysentery and on ulcers; cooked flowers are given to diabetics; the astringent plant sap in cases of hysteria, epilepsy, leprosy, fevers, hemorrhages, acute dysentery and diarrhea, and it is applied on hemorrhoids, insect and other stings and bites; young leaves are placed as poultices on burns and other skin afflictions; the astringent ashes of the unripe peel and of the leaves are taken in dysentery and diarrhea and used for treating malignant ulcers; the roots are administered in digestive disorders, dysentery and other ailments; banana seed mucilage is given in cases of diarrhea in India.


Scientists Report First Cure Of HIV In A Child, Say It’s A Game-Changer by Richard Knox

Daily medications for young children with HIV include both tablets and liquid drugs in syringes.

Daily medications for young children with HIV include both tablets and liquid drugs in syringes.

Andrew Aitchison/In Pictures/Corbis

Scientists believe a little girl born with HIV has been cured of the infection.

She’s the first child and only the second person in the world known to have been cured since the virus touched off a global pandemic nearly 32 years ago.

Doctors aren’t releasing the child’s name, but we know she was born in Mississippi and is now 2 1/2 years old — and healthy. Scientists presented details of the case Sunday at a scientific conference in Atlanta.

The case has big implications. While fewer than 130 such children are born each year in the U.S., an estimated 330,000 children around the world get infected with HIV at or around birth every year, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

And while many countries are striving to prevent these mother-to-child infections, many thousands of children will certainly get infected in coming years.

Until now, such children have been considered permanently infected. Specialists thought they needed lifelong antiviral drugs to prevent HIV from destroying their immune system and killing them via AIDS.

The Mississippi child’s surprising cure came about from happenstance — and the quick thinking of a University of Mississippi pediatric infectious disease specialist, Hannah Gay.

“The child came to our attention as a high-risk exposure to maternal HIV,” Gay tells Shots. Her mother hadn’t had any prenatal care, she says, so didn’t get antiviral drugs during pregnancy.

The fact that the newborn tested positive for HIV within 30 hours of birth is a sign she was probably infected in utero, HIV specialists say.

Gay decided to begin treating the child immediately, with the first dose of antivirals given within 31 hours of birth. That’s faster than most infants born with HIV get treated, and specialists think it’s one important factor in the child’s cure.

In addition, Gay gave higher-than-usual, “therapeutic” doses of three powerful HIV drugs rather than the “prophylactic” doses usually given in these circumstances.

Over the months, the baby thrived, and standard tests could detect no virus in her blood, which is the normal result from antiviral treatment.

HIV particles, yellow, infect an immune cell, blue.

HIV particles, yellow, infect an immune cell, blue.

Then, her mother stopped bringing the child in for checkups.

“The baby’s mom was having some life changes, that’s about all I can say,” Gay reports. “I saw her at 18 months, and then after that did not see her for several months. And we were unable to locate her for a while.”

Gay enlisted the help of Mississippi state health authorities to track down the child. When they found her, the mother said she had stopped giving the child antiviral drugs six or seven months earlier.

At that point, Gay expected to find that the child’s blood was teeming with HIV. But to her astonishment, tests couldn’t find any virus.

“My first thought was, ‘Oh, my goodness, I’ve been treating a child who’s not actually infected,’ ” Gay says. But a look at the earlier blood work confirmed the child had been infected with HIV at birth. So Gay then thought the lab must have made a mistake with the new blood samples. So she ran those tests again.

“When all those came back negative, I knew something odd was afoot,” Gay says. She contacted an old friend, Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga at the University of Massachusetts, who has been studying pediatric HIV/AIDS for two decades.

That was last August. Since then, Luzuriaga’s lab and labs in San Diego, Baltimore and Bethesda, Md., have run ultra-sensitive tests on the baby’s blood.

A couple of tests have intermittently found pieces of HIV DNA and RNA, but no evidence that the virus is actively replicating in the child’s cells.

Luzuriaga tells Shots this amounts to what’s called a “functional cure.”

She says that “means control of viral replication and lack of rebound once they come off antiretroviral medications.”

The only other such case known to AIDS researchers is the so-called Berlin patient — Timothy Brown of San Francisco. But his treatment involved a bone marrow transplant in Germany — essentially, he was given the immune system of a donor who’s genetically resistant to HIV. That’s not something that can be easily duplicated.

By contrast, the Mississippi child’s cure involved readily available medications.

Luzuriaga says researchers believe they have ruled out other possible reasons for the unexpected cure. For instance, the mother did not have a less virulent strain of HIV. And the child does not have known mutations in her immunity genes that confer protection against HIV.

“We think it was that very early and aggressive treatment,” she says, “that curtailed the formation of viral reservoirs” — that is, hideouts for the virus within the child’s immune cells.

Previous research indicates that once these hideouts are established, it can take 70 years or more of steady, three-drug antiviral treatment to eliminate them.

Luzuriaga says the toddler’s cure has electrified researchers searching for an HIV cure.

“It’s exciting to us,” she says. “Because if we were able to replicate this, I think it would be very good news.”

Dr. Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins University Medical School, who presented the case at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, calls the Mississippi cure “definitely a game-changer.”

“This case is sort of the inspiration and provides the rationale to really move forward,” Persaud tells Shots.

Kevin Robert Frost of the Foundation for AIDS Research, or amfAR, agrees that the finding will stimulate a lot of further work. The group helped fund studies to determine if the Mississippi toddler is really cured.

“If this approach is proven effective, we could dramatically change the way children born with HIV are treated,” he tells Shots.

Plans are under way to mount studies to see if early, aggressive treatment can cure other children of HIV. But Persaud says it will be awhile before researchers can figure out when it might be safe to stop antiviral drugs deliberately.

This research will undboubtedly be high-priority, given the birth of nearly 1,000 HIV-infected newborns a day in the developing world.

AIDS researchers foresee a day when the same treatment could give many of these children a lifetime free of toxic and costly antiviral drugs.