Banaba (Lagerstroemia speciose) is a plant native to the Philippines and Southeast Asia. It is also known as Pride of India, Queen’s Crape-myrtle, and Giant Crepe Myrtle. This flowering plant that bears purple flowers during the rainy season has been traditionally used as a treatment for many medical conditions.
Found in the leaves of this plant are three important key components – corosolic acid, Lagerstroemia, and gallotannins – which are responsible for its multitude of medicinal effects.
Banaba and Diabetes
In a study conducted at Hiroshima University School of Medicine in Japan, results showed that Banaba can help reduce blood sugar levels.
Dr. Yamazaki, the author of the study, found that Banaba has corosolic acid which has insulin-like properties and can activate the transport of glucose across cell membranes.
For the study, Dr. Yamazaki adds dried Banaba leaf powder in a chicken feed then an egg yolk from the Banaba-fed chicken was given to diabetic mice. After a given period of time, tests were conducted and results demonstrated that it was able to normalize the blood sugar levels of the mice.
These findings were confirmed by a clinical test conducted in 1999. Dr. William V. Judy of Southwestern Institute of Biomedical Research in Brandenton, Florida has discovered that corosolic acid can really lower blood sugar. When taken in higher dosage, it can cause a huge drop in the level of blood sugar.
Moreover, in a year-long study, 10 mg of pure water-soluble Banaba extract pills were given daily to 15 diabetic patients. After 1 ½ year, it was found that the patients had significantly improved glucose tolerance. A 16% decrease in their blood sugar levels had been experienced by the patients at the end of the year but they did not have low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
A separate study even has found that inhaling traced amounts of corosolic acids in the alcohol extract of Banaba leaves can regulate blood sugar levels.
Other Benefits Of Banaba
Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the effects of inflammation on our tissues. This can provide help for those suffering from arthritis and general inflammation associated with conditions such as heart diseases.
Potent Antiviral Compounds
Due to its beneficial components – corosolic, gallic, and ellagic acid – the leaf extract can prevent viral infections caused by pathogens like HRV-4 (Human Rhinovirus) and HIV. It works by inhibiting enzymes that viruses use to take over human cells (proteases and reverse transcriptase).
Helps Treat Urinary Tract Infections
Banaba leaf has been traditionally used against urinary tract infections (UTI) and kidney problems. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe on urinary tract tissues while at the same time eliminating infectious agent. Simply steep Banaba leaf into a tea to provide relief from UTI.
Promotes Weight Loss
Banaba leaf extract encourages glucose storage molecules to not be broken down, thus optimizing energy conservation and reducing appetite. In addition to this, the extract can also decrease the production of fat cells and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Helps With Liver Disease
Beneficial compounds in Banaba leaf can help protect the liver by breaking down fats that accumulate in liver tissue wherein if not treated early, this can lead to fatty liver disease and other conditions.
May Improve Heart Health
According to studies, gallotannins, a subclass of tannic acid, are present in Banaba leaf extract. Tannic acid was found to be able to prevent the production of endothelin-1, a protein that is heavily involved in heart disease.
Along with corosolic acid, tannins in banaba can also help regulate blood pressure, control cholesterol, prevent strokes, and treat metabolic syndrome.
How Banaba Leaf Is Used
Banaba leaves can be eaten as a vegetable or steeped into a tea for ingestion.
Banaba tea is prepared by boiling 2 cups of water and then adding 2 teaspoons of dried Banaba leaves. Steep for 3-4 minutes. Strain and add lemons and honey.