You might have heard about banaba extract, which is nowadays used as a dietary supplement as well as a herbal remedy. This extract is prepared from the leaves of the banaba bush (Lagerstroemia speciosa). The plant is native to certain parts of southeast Asia, especially Philippines and India. It is believed that the leaves of banaba have therapeutic properties, and in Philippines, it is a popular herbal medicine.
In fact, banaba is the local name of giant crepe myrtle, in Philippines. The plant is also known as queen crepe myrtle. This bushy plant may grow to medium-sized trees with a height of up to 20 meters. The banaba tree has a mottled, flaky bark; and its leaves are oval with a waxy finish. The flowers are usually produced during the summer and the fall. Banaba flowers have a wrinkled texture and are formed in clusters. The colors may range between red, white, lavender, purple, etc. The green fruits of the plant turn brown, as they ripe.
Banaba Leaf Benefits
The leaves of the banaba plant have various active ingredients that are beneficial for treating some health problems. The most important among them is corosolic acid. Apart from that, banaba leaves contain phytochemicals, like reginin A, flosin B, and stroenin. It is believed that these compounds are responsible for the blood sugar lowering property of banaba leaves. Even though, there is no conclusive evidence to prove the effectiveness of banaba leaves in lowering blood glucose levels; various studies and trials conducted on animals as well as humans, support this claim. The most important health benefit of banaba leaves is its so-called use in treating hyperglycemia and diabetes.
While the traditional use of banaba leaves is in the form of banaba leaf tea, nowadays it is available as extract. This extract, prepared from the leaves of this tree, is said to be effective in lowering cholesterol levels. Even this claim is supported by animal trials, wherein, overweight mice were administered with banaba extract for a certain period of time; after which they were found to have lost their body weight as well as body fats to some extent. So, banaba leaf extract is also promoted as a weight loss supplement.
Even though, it is claimed to be safe, some of the users may develop side effects, like hypoglycemia. It should not be used by pregnant and nursing women, those who are taking medication for diabetes and hyperglycemia, and those with heavy menstrual bleeding. Even those with hypoglycemia must avoid use of banaba leaves. If you intend to use it for medicinal purposes, contact a qualified herbal practitioner.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.