Owing to its low cost, delicious taste and nifty, self-protective “packaging,” it’s completely understandable why banana is one of the most popular fruits all over the world. It’s a nutritious snack that’s bursting with fiber, potassium and other standout minerals,1 hence making it a well-loved food by adults and children alike.
But while most people love bananas because of their sweet flesh, there is a rising trend today that makes use of the whole fruit, including the peel, and “brewing” it to make a delicious cup of tea — one that’s said to help with sleep disorders.2 But are there any truths to banana tea’s purported benefits?
Banana peel tea is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a tea made by brewing a whole banana with the skin intact. A sprinkle of cinnamon may be added for flavor.3 Most people aren’t aware that the peel of banana contains healthy nutrients, just like its flesh. A 2011 study published in the Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology journal noted that banana skin “contains various bioactive compounds like polyphenols, carotenoids and others.”4
The problem is that banana skin not only is bitter, but thick and fibrous. Unlike other fruits like apples or pears, you can’t eat it raw along with the flesh. If subjected to heat, though, the tough texture of the banana peel loosens up, so it becomes simpler to chew and digest.5 Hence, one of the best ways to make use of the peel (along with the flesh) is to brew it into banana tea.
Banana peel has been touted as a useful all-around home remedy, especially when used topically. It’s said to help whiten teeth,6 to help get rid of warts7 facial lines and pimple marks8 and to polish silver and leather.9 But as a tea, the most popular benefit linked to banana peel is its touted ability to help bring about a good night’s sleep.10
You’ve probably read about this claim from many health and wellness blogs and health experts, such as Dr. Mehmet Oz,11 who recommended banana tea as a sleep aid in his site. But is there any truth to banana tea’s sleep-boosting potential?
There are three nutrients in banana peel that may contribute to this effect, namely potassium, magnesium and tryptophan.12 Potassium, which is loaded in bananas and may also be found in the peel, has been linked to an improvement in sleep, according to a 1991 study in the journal Sleep.13 It’s also been linked to relaxing the muscles.14
Magnesium also has shown promise in alleviating insomnia, according to a 2012 study among elderly subjects.15 Tryptophan, on the other hand, has been shown to help promote sleepiness. According to one study,16 taking tryptophan in doses of 1 gram or more leads to “an increase in rated subjective sleepiness and a decrease in sleep latency.”
However, there are no formal clinical studies on this tea yet, so these claims are still inconclusive. It may be better to try other, better-researched techniques to help improve your sleep.
There is no caffeine in bananas,17 therefore homemade banana tea is caffeine-free as well. This makes it tolerable for people with caffeine sensitivity.
To make a good cup of banana peel tea, you need to start by finding certified organic bananas. Bananas are a sterile plant, meaning they’re cultivated via cuttings and not seeds.18 As a result, there is no genetic diversity in the plant, giving it weak immunity against pests and diseases.19
For this reason, bananas are among the most heavily sprayed crops today.20 In Costa Rica, for example, a study from Environmental Research journal notes that bananas grown for export make use of as much as 40 kilograms (88.1 pounds) of pesticides per hectare (2.47 acres) per year.21
Since making banana tea will require submerging the entire banana in water, using organic crops will help ensure that no pesticides will leach into your tea. Make sure to wash the banana thoroughly with water before brewing it.
Once you’ve got organic bananas on hand, here are a couple of recipes from Organic Facts you can try. One is for banana tea, which uses the whole fruit, while the other is banana peel tea, which only makes use of the skin:22
Banana Tea Recipe
- 1 organic banana (ends sliced off)
- 6 cups filtered water
- Cinnamon or honey, to taste
- Bring the water to a boil in a pot.
- Add the banana to the boiling water.
- Let the banana steep for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and strain.
- Add the cinnamon or honey or both, and enjoy!
Banana Peel Tea Recipe
- Fresh banana peels
- 1 cup filtered water
- Cinnamon (optional)
- Freeze the banana peels until they harden.
- Put the peels in a pan and let thaw for one to two hours, until they turn black.
- Bake the peels in an oven at 149 degrees F for 30 to 45 minutes
- Grind the dry baked peels and place in an airtight container.
- Boil the water in a stainless steel pot. Add the powder.
- Allow the tea to steep in hot water for a bit. Strain and add honey and cinnamon to taste.
Note: Ground banana peels are as strong as black tea.
While it may offer certain nutrients, take note that consuming banana tea in copious amounts is not recommended as it may lead to hyperkalemia — this is when you have too much potassium in the body.23
Since severe hyperkalemia can be life-threatening, and may lead to chronic kidney disease and cardiac arrest,24 it’s best to consume banana tea in moderation to avoid these effects. Organic Facts notes that other side effects like stomach upset, vomiting and nausea may occur if banana tea is consumed in large amounts.25
The importance of getting high-quality sleep cannot be overstated, but take note that simply relying on banana tea may not be the best option, especially since the studies are still inconclusive on this purported benefit.
If you need to boost the quality of your sleep, however, you can start by employing simple lifestyle changes, such as removing all electronic gadgets and light-emitting devices from your bedroom, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and keeping your bedroom temperature cool. Check out my comprehensive list of sleep-boosting strategies in this article, “Want a Good Night’s Sleep? Then Never Do These Things Before Bed.”