Wound Healing Potential of Musa paradisiaca L. (Musaceae) stem juice extract formulated into an ointment


A. Weremfo1, A. N. M. Pappoe2 and M. B. Adinortey1

1Department of Biochemistry, School of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana.

2Department of Environmental Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana

*Corresponding Author E-mail: weremfo@yahoo.com



Musa paradisiaca L (plantain) stem juice has been shown to possess haemostatic effect.  The present work was undertaken with the premise that if the stem juice is able to stop bleeding, then it could have wound healing potential.  An ointment containing extract of plantain stem juice (10%) was formulated and tested for wound healing activity in rats using excision wound model.  The results indicate that topical application of the formulated ointment significantly (P<0.05) enhanced the rate of wound healing and reduced the epithelization period.  The percentage closure of wound area for the ointments of plantain stem juice and silver sulphadoxine were 98.9±0.7 and 100±0.00, respectively.  Epithelization period was drastically reduced from 21.0±1.4 days for the petroleum jelly-treated group to 14.6±0.5 days for silver sulphadoxine-treated group and 16.8±0.8 days for the extract-treated group.  In conclusion the study clearly shows the potential of plantain stem juice ointment in wound healing confirming its ethno-medicinal use.


KEYWORDS: Wound healing, excision wound model, Musa paradisiaca, epithelization, topical application



Wounds are referred to as disruption of normal anatomic structure and function. Skin wounds happen through physical injuries which could result in opening and breaking of the skin1.  Restoration of damaged tissue is an important biological process, which plays vital role in the survival of life. Wound healing and tissue repair are complex processes that involve a dynamic series of events including clotting, inflammation, granulation tissue formation, epithelization, collagen synthesis and tissue remodeling2.  This highly regulated cascade of biochemical and cellular events are designed to restore tissue integrity following injury.  A treatment could influence the healing of wounds by intervening in one or many phases of wound healing.


Wounds have a tremendous impact on the healthcare economy.  Chronic wounds represent a major health burden and drain on healthcare resources in developed countries3.  It is estimated that 70 to 80% of patients in Africa are treated by herbal practitioners4. 


People in Africa rely on traditional medicine for their health needs, including management of wounds because of the high cost of orthodox medicines, inadequate health facilities and healthcare professionals, coupled with a lack of training of health workers on skin disorders and diseases5. 


Traditional medicines and medicinal plants used for management of skin disorders and as wound healing agents6,7 are easily available and affordable, sometimes free of charge.  Medicinal plants have been used widely in facilitating wound healing with high degree of successes8.  Most of these medicinal plants have been used for a long time and are assessed to be safer than isolated active compounds9.  This has inspired many research work aimed at validating the claims and potential of plants on wound healing. 


Musa paradisiaca Linn popularly known as plantain belongs to the Musacace family and is cultivated in many tropical countries worldwide.  Mature plantain pulp is very rich in iron, potassium, vitamins A and C but low in protein10.  Musa paradisiaca is known to have medicinal activity.  It is used in treatment of dysentery and diarrhoea11.  The stem mixed with Talinum triangulare leaves is used to treat measles12.  The stem juice has also been shown to possess hyperglycemic effect13.  Borges et al. have also reported an antivenom action of the stem juice14.  Agarwal et al. have shown that extracts of Musa paradisiaca fruit have wound healing activity15.


The present work was undertaken with the premise that the plantain stem juice which has been reported to promote haemostasis16 could have an effect on wound healing.  Plantain stem juice is used in wound care in Ghana.  In this study an attempt has been made to explore the wound healing potential of an ointment formulated from plantain stem juice.



Preparation of stem juice extract

The stem of Musa paradisiaca was collected and identified at the Herbarium Unit of the University of Cape Coast, Ghana.  The outer part of the stem was peeled off and its white inner portion was cut into small pieces (3.3Kg).  The pieces were homogenized and the juice about 2.1L was extracted.  The extracted juice was filtered and concentrated under reduced pressure (11.6 % yield).  The dried extract was mixed with petroleum jelly) (10% W/W).


Preliminary Phytochemical Analysis

Dried extracts of plantain stem juice was subjected to qualitative phytochemical screening using the methods described by Trease and Evans17 and Harbone18. 


Experimental animal

Fifteen adult healthy Wistar albino rats of either sex, weighting between 160-200g were used for the study. The animals were housed in standard conditions and were provided food and water ad libitum during the period of the experiment. The protocol of the study was approved by the Local Ethical Committee for Animal Experimentation. 


Wound healing activity

Excision wound model as described by Morton and Malone19 was used.  The animals were divided into three groups of five (5) animals each.  The animals were anaesthetized with diethyl ether and the hairs on the dorsal skin shaved with sterilized razor blades.  Circular wound of about 155 mm2 area was made on depilated dorsal thoracic region of rats.  This was taken as the initial wound area reading.  The wounds of the animals were treated topically depending on the group.  Group 1 was treated with extract of stem juice ointment (10 % w/w), Group 2 with silver sulphadoxine ointment (1 % w/w) which served as positive control while group 3 which served as normal control was treated with the blank petroleum jelly ointment.  The topical treatments were done daily starting from day one of wound creation till complete healing was noticed.  The progressive changes in wound area were measured in mm2 on alternate days until epithelization and complete wound closure were observed. Wound contraction was calculated as a percentage of the original wound area.  The period of epithelization was calculated as the number of days required for the falling of the scar tissue without any residual raw wound.

Statistical Analysis

All results were expressed as mean ± S.D. and the results were compared statistically by one-way ANOVA using SPSS software version 16.  Statistically significance was set at a value of 5%.



Wound healing activity and phytochemical analysis

From the results, the percentage closure of excision wound area of plantain and silver sulphadoxine treated groups were comparable. Epithelization period was significantly reduced (P<0.05) in both plantain and silver sulphadoxine treated rats compared to the petroleum jelly treated rats (Table 1). 


Phytochemical screening in this study revealed the presence of alkaloids, terpenoid, flavanoid, saponins and tannins.



Despite tremendous advances in the Pharmaceutical industry‚ the availability of substances capable of stimulating the process of wound repair is still limited.  Many studies indicate that plant products are potential agents for wound healing and largely preferred because of the reduction in unwanted side effects and their effectiveness6, 8, 9.  In this study the effect of topical application of plantain stem juice formulated into an ointment on excision wound model was studied in Wister albino rats.




Table 1: The effect of extracted plantain stem juice ointment on excision wound healing in rats.

Treatment Group

% of wound contraction on post wounding days


period (Days)

Day 2

Day 4

Day 6

Day 8

Day 10

Day 12

Day 14

Day 16


Ointment base

 (10% w/w)




















Silver sulphadoxine ointment base (1%)


















Petroleum jelly









70.2± 3.8








Values are mean ± SD (standard deviation)‚ n ═ 5 rats in each group. *significant difference from normal control p<0.05)


The enhanced rate of wound contraction and drastic reduction in epithelization period of plantain stem juice formulated ointment indicates that the wound healing activity of the stem juice is comparable to that of the silver sulphadoxine treated group. Although the stage of healing process affected by the stem juice ointment has not been determined, this observation may be due to a beneficial influence of the stem juice ointment on the various phases of wound healing namely; coagulation, inflammation and debridement of wound, re-epitheliazation and collagen deposition and remodeling within the dermis, resulting in fast healing. Various studies have shown that plants containing tannins, flavonoid and triterpernoid promote healing due to their astringent, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties20,21,22.  The wound healing potential of plantain stem juice observed in this study may be attributed to the presence of the individual or combined action phytochemicals such as flavonoids, triterpenoids and tannins found in the stem juice of plantain.


In conclusion, the formulated ointment of plantain stem juice is effective in the promotion of wound healing.  These findings partially justify the use of this plant in the management of wound healing in folklore medicine.  Further studies using different types of wound model could be explored.



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Received on 09.08.2011                    Accepted on 30.09.2011        

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Res. J. Topical and Cosmetic Sci. 2(2): July – Dec. 2011 page 71-73