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The Banana Trick
By Andrea Candee, Master Herbalist

When there is a splinter, sliver of glass, or any other unwanted foreign object under the skin, the customary plan of attack is to go in after it with a sterilized needle. This can be an uncomfortable experience for a young child or a queasy adult, but the alternative is generally to do nothing and hope for the best, risking the possibility of a lingering, painful infection.

Ripe banana peel to the rescue! The peel is rich in enzymes. It is the drawing action of the enzymes that will bring the foreign matter to the surface of the skin.

The peel can be used to create a poultice. A poultice is merely a moist mass of herb, which, when applied to the skin, has a remedial action, usually that of drawing toxin from the body or soothing the skin. Other examples of poultices are cold cucumber slices or moistened chamomile tea bags applied to the eyes to relieve swelling and itching.

Here's the "trick":

  • Cut a 1" square piece from the peel of a ripened banana to cover the affected area.
  • Apply the pulp side of the peel against the skin. Hold the banana peel in place with a piece of surgical tape (available in pharmacies).
  • Leave on overnight. In the morning, the banana will have drawn the foreign matter to the surface, ready for easy removal with fingers or a tweezer. Better still, the offending material may show up in the peel when you remove it from the skin

More deeply embedded splinters may require one or two more nights of this treatment, in which case you should use a fresh section of peel each time. A panicked mother called me when her 2-year old got a very deep splinter in his foot from her deck which was made from pressure treated (toxin laden) wood. A trip to the pediatrician did not resolve the issue for he was not willing to cut into the foot to remove the splinter. I suggested 3 nights of a banana poultice and, as expected, the splinter was drawn to the surface for easy removal.

The ripe banana fruit yields the same enzymes as the peel, but can be messier to apply on body extremities. When one of my sons was in elementary school, he was upset that he developed a pimple, whitehead style, on his forehead the day before school photographs. It looked like it needed draining, so we mashed up a small piece of ripe banana and smeared in on the pimple, letting it dry before he went to sleep. His skin was clear in the morning and photo-ready!

So you may want to consider adding bananas to your home First-Aid kit. And if you don't happen to need them for splinters or pimples, you can always eat them for all that other good stuff they've got!

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