Title page





Chapter one:

1.0       Introduction

2.0       Historical background

3.0       Plantain and its composition

4.0       Economic and medical uses of plantain

Chapter two

2.0 physiology of intestinal motility

2.1 anatomic structure of the intestine

2.2 intestinal muscle as a syncytium

2.3 electrical activity of intestinal smooth muscle

2.4 molecular basis of smooth muscle contraction

2.5 innervation of the gut

2.6 functional types of movements in the intestinal tract

Chapter three:

3.0 methodology

3.1 materials

3.2 experimental procedure

3.3 extracts and drugs used

3.4 precautions

Chapter four:


Chapter five

Discussion and conclusion


          Historical background of intestinal research was reviewed. Also review of physiology of intestinal motility was examined.

          The effect of plantain extract (Musa paradisiaca) on intestinal motility was investigated, using isolated tissue preparations of rabbit intestine (ileum). Based on magnus method (1904).

          The plantain extract (fresh and dry pulp, fresh and dry epidermis and fresh and dry mixture of pulp and epidermis) produced an inhibitory effect on the motility of the intestine. Whit the epidermal extract as the most potent.

          Acetylcholine and atropine were used to compare their effects with those of the plantain extracts. Acetycholine is excitatory, while plantain extract is inhibitory. Atropine is inhibitory, just as the plantain extract.

          From the foregoing, it was concluded that, plantain extract has an antispasmodic effect that might be beneficial as an autidiorrhaal agent.



Intestinal motility is the spontaneous rhythmic and alternate contractions and relaxations at a remarkably regular frequency of the intestine caused by the inherent contractile elements of the visceral smooth muscles that line the walls of the intestinal track. The major part of the smooth muscle of the gastro intestinal tract is made up of a thick circular layer and a much thinner longitudinal layer. The circular layer is responsible for most of the visible intestinal movements.

          In this project, isolated tissue preparation was used to examine the effect of plantain (Musa paradisiaca) on the intestinal motility of Rabbit.


          The study of intestinal motility started as far back as the 17th century. Literature on this subject shows that it is one whose history has been characterised by a lot of differences in facts and opinions, among investigators. This is what led people like Bayliss and starting to write the following statement that:

          ‘’on no subject in physiology do we meet with so many discrepancies of fact and opinion as in that of the physiology of the intestinal movements. Among factors contributing to such discrepancies must doubtless be included the varying behaviour of the intestine in different animals, the varying conditions of the animal with regard to feeding or intestine’’.

          Dr. William Beamount (1933) used for his human studies Alexis St. Martin, a French Canadian who, on June 6, 1822, had been wounded in the upper region of the abdomen by bullets and so, a fistula was left which enabled Beaumount to look at the man’s stomach and observe its contents and movements. Contraction and relaxation of bands of muscles great variety of motion was induced’’.

          Haffer, in 1854 was the first to use isolated segments of intestine, in 1854 was the first to use isolated segments of intestine, contracting in a tiny bath of warm, oxygenated Locke’s solution, for physiological studies, but magnus modified the method in 1904 and popularized it for the study of contractile functions, consequently, the method became popularlay known as magnus method.

          Ludwig, publishing in the second volume of the Lehbuch der physiologie des menschen, in 1861 described the motor action of the small bowel as consisting of either single contractions, limited to one site, or coordinated movements. The latter movements he stated, could be divided either into recurring, stationary, rhythmic, and circular contractions or progressive contractions. The progressive contractions were described as moving either from the proximal to the distal end (peristalsis’’) or from the distal to the proximal below upward (antiperistalsis).

          Legros and Onimus (1869) recognized the difference in rate of rhythmic contractions in the upper and lower small bowel of the dog. In the duodenum they observed arrate of 18 contractions per minute and 11 or 12 contractions per minute in lower ileum. It was some forty-five years later that Alvarez demonstrated the ‘’gradient’’ of rhythmic contractions in the small bowel of rabbit.

          In 1871 Sanders made a significant contribution when he described the method of opening an animals abdomen under a bath of warm salt solution to observe intestinal movements. Engelmann (1971) and hockgeest (1872), using sanders method, described a type of motility of the small bowel that apperetnly had not been previously observed. It was a rushing type of peristaltic wave and houckgest used the term Rollbewegungen to describe it. About twenty five years later, Meltzer and Aucer made an extensive study of the phenomenon of Rollbewgungen and coined the term ‘’peristaltic rush’’ to designate this type of motility. Van Braan Houckgest perhaps was the first man who attempted to observe gastric activity in animals by watching through a glass or celluloid window built into the anterior abdominal wall.

          Poensgen (1882) said that wepfer, in 1679, saw that during vomiting, waves began in the duodenum and course back wavelets rippling over the stomach.

          Although, early descriptions of peristalsis were provided by cash (1886), mall (1896), and others, it was Bayliss and starling who in 1899, published the first detailed account of peristalsis in the dog. Bayliss and starling (1899) to whose classic studies we owe most of our knowledge of intestinal motility, observed that the response of the small intestine to local stimuli consist of a concentration of the smooth muscle above and relaxation below the stimulated area, and that these effects are depended on the activity of local nervous mechanism. ‘’This’’, they said, ‘’is the law of the intestine’’.

          In 1898 Grutzner observed that intestinal contents moved irregularly forward and background, but he was unable to correlate these movements with intestinal motor action.

          Dr. cannon, from 1898 to 1914 made many contributions to knowledge of the movements of the stomach and bowel as observed on the X-ray screen. He studied, in seccession, movements of the stomach, oesophagus, and intestines; the myenteric reflex; the influence of tonus and antiperistalsis. Cannon (1902) saw a certain type of rhythmic contraction in which a section of intestine was divided into short segments by rings of contractions occurring at regularly spaced intervals. When the contracted areas relazed, the relaxed areas between them contracted, dividing each segment into halves. The two halves of adjacent segments joined together to form a new segment. Cannon described these contractions as segmenting contractions. The first ‘’observation of rhythmic segmentation in man was likely made in 1907 by Hertz. Cannon (1912) proposed that the reflex responsible for the law of the intestine be designated as the myenteric reflex.

          Alvarez in 1914 suspended small segments of intestine in beakers of warm oxygenated Ringer’s solution, and the variation in frequency at different levels of the intestine suggested to alvarez and his students the idea that there is a gradient in the various physiological properties of the intestine, with activity being greatest at the duiodenal end and least at the ileal end of the small bowel. Among the properties for which a gradient has been established are rhythmic contractions at different levels of the rabbit small intestine, irritability, tone, susceptibility to pharmacological agents, and slow-wave electrical activity. Alvarez considered these to be the underlying mechanism of peristalsis and ‘’polarity’’ of the small bowel.

          Keith (1915) first suggested that a rhythmogenic centre was located in the duodenum that served as a peacemaker for duodenal rhythmic contractions. The pacemaker regulates small bowel motor action.

          Alvarez (1923), started taking motion pictures of the bowel exposed under warm salt solution. In 1926, Dr. Arnold Zimmamann and Alvarex made a number of motion – picture films showing the movements of the stomach and bowel in anaesthetized rabbits and cats with the abdomen opened under warm Locke’s solution.

          In 1931 Hukura and 1937 Roden made pictures of intestinal activity through widows previously implanted in an animals abdomen.

          In the late 1930s, Dr. Alfred Barclay constructed an X-ray cinematic apparatus with which he made some beautiful films of movements in the small bowel of man.

          The studies of Ambache (1947), Bozler (1949) and Milton and Smith (1956) have described the electrical activity of the intestine as consisting of slow waves that are frequently, but not necessarily, associated with local muscular contractions and rapid, spike like waves that appears only when the muscle contracts. The slow waves have the same frequency as the rhythmical contractions and are regularly conducted along the intestine in an aboral direction.

          Bass et al (1961) studied the electrical activity of exteriorized loops of duodenum in trained dogs and recorded intraluminal pressures simultaneously to detect motor activity.

          Friedman et al (1965) observed two types of segmental contractions in the duodenum of man. The first type consisted of a contractions localized in a segment less than 2cm in length which was most marked on the free or external border (outer longitudinal muscle layer) of the duodenum and was therefore eccentric in appearance. It occurs in several regions at once or sequentially and seems to sub serve a mixing function. These local exentric contractions rarely succeeded in emptying the area of the duodenum completely. The second type of segmenting contractions was concentric and consisted of a local contraction involving the circular muscle layers over a segment longer than 2cm and of relatively uniform circumference. They were observed to empty the barium from the segment of the duodenum.

          The frequency of these segmental movements during digestion is highest in the duodenum – about 12 per min in man and decreases as the distance from the pylorus increases.


Plantain (Musa paradisiaca) is a staple food of a large proportion of the inhabitants of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Benin republic and some Delta tribes in southern Nigeria (Dalziel 1937).

          The plantain, originally of tropical Asia, was introduced probably through Egypt in ancient times. It belongs to a botanical family of plants called musacae in the order Zingiberale, with two genera Ensete and Musa. This classification was given by Hutchison (1959) and Simmonds (1962). The Hutchison’s classification of the order consist of six families which musacae is one of the tropical and subtropical perennial plants (Simmonds 1962). There are about one thousand four hundred species of whichMusa paradisiaca is among. All edible banana and plantain are said to be derived from a hybrid of Musa paradisiaca and Musa balbisiana.

          Ecologically, they are plants of tropoical humid low lands and are mostly grown between 300 North and South of the equator. Mean monthly temperature of 270c is optimal and at a higher temperature, they usually suffer from sunscorch. At a temperature of 21oc or less, results in a check in growth of Musa paradisiaca. Time of shooting is 7- 9 months in the tropical low lands but this may extend to 18 months in the tropical low lands but this may extend to 18 months at 1000 metre or subtropical area. They require high water, and demand an average annual rain fall of 200 – 250 cm of well distributed rainfall. The rainfall should be distributed such that soils are never dry in the root zone, or if so, only for short periods. The plant is also grown in an area with fairly pronounced dry season like Uganda (perseglorc 1979).

          About 100 grams of unripe plantain supplies about 391.8 calories, while ripe plantain of similar weight will supply about 377.32 calories (Oke 1972). Not much is known about the amino acid content of the unripe plantain, this is due to difficulty in amino acid extraction and identification (Oke 1972). Plantain is a rich source of calcium, phosphorus, Iron and other trace elements, ascorbic acid, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin (Oyenuga 1978).


Reducing sugar





Crude protein

True protein

Crude Fibre










(SOWUMI 1980)



Ascorbic Acid




11.00 mg

0.02 mg

0.05 mg

0.65 mg

(Oyenuga, 1978)

          Plantain contain substances that are physiologically and biochemically important. The presence of phenolic amines in plantain have been reported, (Simonds 1966). The most abundant is 3, 4 dihydrophenylethyl amine (Dopamine) which is said to be abundant in the skin of the plantain and banana fruit reacting about 700 P.P.M (parts per million) but relatively insignificant in the pulp (Anderson et al 1958). Other substances present are shown in the table below with various concentration.



Dopamine Trace 700
5-Hydroxytryptamine 19 – 36 30 – 170
Noradrenaline 2 122
Tryamine 7 655.

(SIMMONDS, 1966).

          5- hydroxytryptamine is the most active substance present in the banana pulp which inhibit gastric acid secretion and stimulate smooth muscle in the intestine (Simmonds 1966; Smith et al 1960). 5 – hydroxytryptamine is presumed to come from trytophane and it is excreted as 5 – hydroxyl indole-acetic acid by mammals after cating plantain (Simmonds 1966).

          Two other substances present in plantain, that tar very important for its physiological effects are tannin and phytin. The astringent property of unripe plantain and the ‘’active’’ Tannin level in unripe plantain were attributed to the phenolic substances present in the unripe plantain (Goldstein et al, 1963). Tannins have been implicated in the formation of astringent substances due to their ability to form complex and precipitate protein substances in the buccal cavity s well as in the intestinal mucosa. This astringency is termed mouth and intestinal ‘’gripping’’ respectively. Tannin astringent property inhibit saliva in the mouth, gastric secretin in the stomach.

          In the unripe plantain the bulk of tannins is leucoanthccyanidine which is present as a monomeric flavo 3, 4, diol and is believed to condense to inactive high tannin polymers at ripenings.

          Phytin which is the calcium and magnesium salt of phytic acid (INOSITOL – HEXO-PHOSPHORIC ACID) is present in plantain, (Bagoosan 1932). Phytic acid itself has been shown to interfere with the absorption of calcium either by precipitation of calcium or by converting it to a form which is not readily absorbed from the intestine (Anon, 1945). Leninger (1977) described phytic acid as the hexophosphoric ester of Inositol. Inositol is a basic sugar alcohol called myoinositol in the extra cellular compartment of higher plant tissue.

          Joan et al (1982) reported that large amount of phytate could render calcium in the intestine insoluble, refer to figure 1.0 for the structure of phytin and tannin.

          Other phenolic substances such as Eugenol and Elemicin which are quite volatile, with low boiling points are also present.


Musa paradisiaca has a lot of economic and medicinal uses. These uses are peculiar to localities where they are found. Economically, in most countries of West Africa, such as Republic of Benin, Ghana and Delta tribes of Nigeria, unripe plantain fruits are peeled, wrapped in its leaves and steamed. It is also eaten, pounded into thick mush (soft, thick mixture) and can be boiled, baked in ashes, fried in oil, and cut up and dried in the sum or smoked for use when required. Wine and spirits have also been distilled from plantain. The fibres are used for issuing and that from plantain are usually stronger and whiter than that from banana.

          Cut pieces of the fruit-peduncle can serve as stoppers, used for flint-lock guns and when thoroughly dried used also as wads.

          In Ghana they are used as sponges and the central part of the stalk is pounded up and smeared on the floor of native houses. The sap from the stem stain linen indelibly. It is also used as an astringent sap from the root containing Tannin (Buignet 1861). In West Africa, when the skin of the fruit is dried in the sun and burned, provides ash rich in caustic potash for local soap making and even for mixing with tobacco.

          In India, the sap of the stem is of medicinal use in nervous conditions like hysteria and epilepsy. The unripe fruit, combined with other plants can be used in diabetes (B. Oliver 1960).

          In Ghana, the roots are pounded and prepared as an enema. The young leaves softened by slight heating makes a good dressing for wounds. The ash of burned stem, leaf or fruit – Epidermis is used as dusting powder for treatment of ulcers.

          In Gambia, the sap of the inflorescence is used for ear ache. In French Gambia, the flowers are regarded as having emmenagoque properties. In Gabon, the scraping of the peduncle stop bleedings from cuts; the young terminal leaves, while still rolled are moistened with palm oil and applied as a dressing for burns or used like silk; the ashes of the skins are used as a dressing after scarification (production in the skin of many small superficial scratches). A remedy for cracked lips is to cut up the bracts and sterile flowers and cook them with million seed. The core of the stem is used to clean up ulcers.

          The fact that unripe plantain have been used in certain localities of the Niger Delta for the amelioration of diarrhoea ignited interested in studying, its effects on intestinal motility.

          This project, therefore is aimed at further looking at the effect of Musa paradisiacaon Isolated Rabbit ileum.

KEYWORDS; effect of roasted plantain, side effects of plantain chips, unripe plantain powder, does unripe plantain contain iron, nutritional composition of unripe plantain, ripe and unripe plantain which is more nutritious, uses of plantian, does unripe plantain contain carbohydrate

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