Diarrhoea should not be confused with the frequent passing of stools of normal consistency – this is not diarrhoea. Diarrhoea is instead characterised by abnormally loose or watery stools. Also, breastfed babies often pass loose, pasty stools, which is normal and not diarrhoea.
In Africa, the prevalence of diarrhoeal infection is as high as 18.8 per cent, above the average of 16 per cent, making it one of the worst in the world. It accounts for an annual estimated 2500,000 deaths mainly amongst children under five in Africa, who continue to be the more susceptible mainly because of poor sanitation and hygiene practices.
With over a decade of the practice and promotion of oral rehydration therapy (ORT), diarrhoea is still the second among the causes of child death. In addition, this management option which often fails during high stool output state is also associated with undesirable side effects such as headache, convulsion, stomach cramp, vomiting, constipation and hallucination.
Consequently, attention is now being shifted to alternatives in medicinal plants for the management of the disease.
Various parts of the plantain plant have been useful in the management of several ailments. For example, a cold infusion of the root is used to treat venereal diseases, anaemia, scabies, leprosy, and skin diseases.
The fruit is consumed as food and used as tonic, worm expeller, diuretic, and aphrodisiac, while the leafy juice was reported to be used in the treatment of fresh wounds, cuts, insect and snake bites. The leaves have also been used for managing cold, bronchitis, and eye infections.
Furthermore, its sap has also been researched to be useful as a remedy for diarrhoea, and dysentery..
In an animal study, the researchers found that the sap significantly prolonged the onset time of diarrhoea, decreased the number, fresh weight, and water content of feaces, and increased the inhibition of defecations.
They found that the reductions exhibited by the 1.0 mL of the sap were more than the other dose levels and also compared favourably with those administered the reference drug for diarrhoea, loperamide.
The 2015 study published in the journal, Evidence Based Complement Alternative Medicine, involved researchers at the University of Ilorin,