Banaba Leaf Dramatically Reduces Blood Sugar, Fights Diabetes, + 8 More Health Benefits
You may have tried all kinds of methods to manage your diabetes, but have you heard of banaba leaf yet?
Banaba leaf, not to be confused with banana leaf, grows on a tropical tree species called the Pride of India. The scientific name of the tree is Lagerstroemia speciosa.
Like its name implies, the banaba tree is native to India, Southeast Asia, and the Philippines. It is consumed in these areas as a tea. The young and mature leaves are also eaten as vegetables — the leaves have a mild, sweet taste and are a staple dessert in some cuisines.
But banaba leaves aren't only eaten. The extract of banaba leaves has been used in traditional and folk medicine for many years due to its ability to treat diabetes.1
Banaba extract has been the subject of diabetes research since 1940, and scientists have discovered that the extract has a hypoglycemic effect similar to that of insulin. The extract stimulates the transport of blood glucose into cells all over the body.2
Currently, researchers believe the leaf holds promise as a natural type 2 diabetes treatment.
So, let’s take a look at how banaba leaf can reduce your blood sugar and fight diabetes.
Banaba Leaf Extract: How it Fights Diabetes
Different compounds present within the banaba leaf extract affect the body in a number of different ways.
Corosolic acid: Corosolic acid, present in high amounts in banaba leaf extract, has been found to lower blood sugar levels in diabetic patients in as little as 60 minutes.3
Other studies on diabetic individuals demonstrate a drastic improvement in fasting blood sugar levels. On average, corosolic acid is able to reduce blood glucose levels by 10–15%, and a decrease of up to 30% has also been recorded.4
So how does corosolic acid act on the body to fight diabetes?
Corosolic acid acts indirectly to lower blood sugar. The administration of corosolic acid encourages cells to increase their uptake of glucose. It also keeps the body from digesting carbs or sugar into straight glucose molecules. In addition, it prevents gluconeogenesis, which is when the body makes glucose for energy from non-carbohydrates.5
An additional benefit of corosolic acid is its ability to lower the levels of LDL and triglycerides.
Lagerstroemia: Lagerstroemia, a substance found in banaba leaf extract, is an ellagitannin (a class of phytochemicals present in traditionally medicinal plants, fruits, and vegetables).6
Ellagitannins (ET) have received increased attention in the medical field lately due to their valuable properties. ETs are hypothesized to contain chemopreventive, anticarcinogenic, and antiproliferative (anti-tumorous) compounds.7
Lagerstroemia in particular is beneficial for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. This ET has been reported to act as an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor.
Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors are used in anti-diabetic drugs due to their ability to prevent the digestion of carbs — especially simple starches and sugars — which in turn reduces the impact these foods have on blood sugar levels.8
PGG: Also derived from banaba leaf extract is glucopyranose (PGG). This metabolic compound helps to discourage the production of fat cells. PGG also improves the uptake of glucose, reducing high blood sugar.9
9 Other Health Benefits of Banaba Leaf: From Reducing High Blood Sugar to Improving Heart Health
1. Banaba Leaf Fights Diabetes
To review, banaba leaf contains key compounds, such as corosolic acid, lagerstroemia, and PGG, that help reduce high blood sugar. These components increase the glucose tolerance of cells, decrease the production of glucose, and alter the body’s breakdown of simple starches and sugars to reduce glucose uptake.
A recent review of the literature on the anti-diabetic activity of banaba leaves highlights a number of human, animal, and in-vitro studies that support these assertions.
A one-year efficacy and safety study observed the results of daily administration of water-soluble banaba extract. The researchers found no reported negative side effects to taking the supplement. However, the benefits were enormous: The extract reduced patients’ fasting blood glucose level by 16.6% without causing hypoglycemia.10
2. Banaba Leaf Boosts Weight Loss
Type 2 diabetes is strongly associated with obesity. Approximately 90% of all individuals in the United States suffering with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.13 Unfortunately, the current medications available for the treatment of high blood sugar, while effective for lowering glucose levels, actually promote weight gain.
One of the exciting properties of banaba leaf extract is its ability to boost weight loss while concurrently lowering blood sugar levels.
One study on obese mice found that the mice consuming banaba leaf extract experienced approximately a 10% weight loss when compared with the control group eating a regular diet.14
It is hypothesized that by discouraging the quick breakdown of glucose molecules, banaba leaf extract optimizes the digestion of food and reduces appetite.
Additionally, in humans, corosolic acid present in banaba lead extract has been observed to decrease the production of fat cells and decrease triglyceride and cholesterol levels.15
Another study found that when 30 participants supplemented with a daily dose of banaba, vitamin D3, green coffee bean, and Moringa, they observed lower body fat levels compared to the placebo group.
At the same time, this supplement combination helped suppress the study group’s appetite and maintain healthy blood sugar and lipid levels.16
3. Banaba Leaf Has Antioxidant Properties
Banaba leaf extract has also been studied for its antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress and free radicals, which have been associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, certain cancers, and rheumatoid arthritis.17
Banaba leaf extract cleanses the body of a specific type of free radical known as dismutase. When unregulated, the presence of dismutase can cause cell and tissue damage. Additionally, diabetic mice supplemented with banaba extract experienced an increase in the antioxidant enzyme catalase, which helps to neutralize harmful oxidative stress.18
4. Banaba Leaf Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory
Corosolic acid, present in banaba leaf extract, has been demonstrated in a number of studies to produce an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. An in vivo study revealed that the extract was beneficial in inhibiting the formation of arachidonic acid in mice. Arachidonic acid is a fatty acid associated with two types of hormones: prostaglandins and leukotrienes (which induce pain and increase inflammation).19
Banaba extract has also been observed to block the stimulation of NF-kB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells), which are thought to be the single most important factor in the development of harmful inflammation.20
5. Banaba Leaf is an Antiviral
Human rhinoviruses (HRVs) are responsible for more than half of all cases of the common cold in the United States. Ellagic acid, a component found in banaba leaf extract, has been found to act directly on HRVs and displays a high antiviral efficacy.21
Ellagic acid and gallic acid from banaba leaf have displayed novel anti-HIV activity. Recent research reveals that banaba leaf extract may have a future use as a topical anti-HIV-1 agent, without the cytotoxicity of traditional antiviral medications.22,23
6. Banaba Leaf Acts as an Antibacterial Agent
Tannins present in banaba lead extract may be responsible for its antibacterial activity. In one study, alcoholic and water extracts of banaba leaf were tested against the bacteria S. aureus, B. subtilis, P. aeruginosa, and E. coli. Both extracts were found to reduce the levels of the bacteria.24
7. Banaba Leaf May Prevent Cancer
On top of its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-diabetic properties, corosolic acid may also promote cell death in cancer cells. Corosolic acid was recently studied for its ability to attack and kill human colon cancer cells. Results reveal that this potent compound may be a beneficial anticancer agent for the future of colon cancer treatment.25
Another mechanism through which corosolic acid acts on cancer cells is its inhibition of 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13 acetate, which is a compound that stimulates the growth of preexisting tumors.26
8. Banaba Leaf May be Good for Heart Health
As mentioned above, banaba leaf extract is rich in tannic acid. Tannic acid, in addition to stimulating the transport of glucose, is thought to reduce the production of endothelin-1, a protein closely correlated with the development of cardiovascular disease.27
Research also reveals that banaba leaf extract may be beneficial for the management of high blood pressure. In one study, corosolic acid was added to the diet of hypertensive rats for 14 weeks. A significant reduction in blood pressure was observed in comparison to the control group.28
9. Banaba Lead May Prevent Liver Disease
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a type of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. This serious condition, which currently has no approved medications, can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and death. This condition is highly associated with diabetes and the excessive consumption of sugar.29
In one study in rats with NASH, researchers found that the consumption of banaba extract decreased liver damage, lowered total cholesterol, and improved liver function results.30 More research is necessary to see if this same result is replicable in humans.
So, You Want to Try Banaba Leaf...
Banaba leaf has been used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in the Philippines for hundreds of years. Finally, Western medical research is catching up. Researchers have identified the key components of banaba leaf that help lower your blood sugar, help you lose weight, and may even prevent liver disease and improve your heart health.
If you’re ready to try banaba leaf, it is most commonly found in pill form either alone or combined with other ingredients. It can also be found in a powder, which can be mixed into a drink or smoothie.
So far, studies in adult humans have used daily dosages between 32 mg and 48 mg of the extract. Pediatric studies are only preliminary and have not revealed conclusive results.31
Currently, no adverse side effects have been reported in preliminary research. Surprisingly, although the extract lowers the blood sugar of diabetic individuals, hypoglycemia is not a concern.32
Banaba leaf extract may interact with medications such as prescriptions for diabetes and blood pressure. Consult with your doctor before starting any new health supplement or changing your nutritional routine.
A number of users have tried banaba leaf extract and reaped the benefits. Are you ready to give it a try?
To your health,
To your health, Annalise May
Contributing Editor, Clear Health Now
To your health,