Banaba leaf tea is steeped using the leaves of the Banaba Bush (Lagerstroemia speciosa), a bush which can reach more than 40 feet (12 meters) in height! The leaves are thick and waxy and have been used traditionally for centuries, in countries where it is indigenous, as a folk remedy to treat high blood sugar (diabetes).
Scientific Name: Lagerstroemia Speciosa
Common Name: Queen's Crape Myrtle
Philippine Name: Banaba Bush
What is a Banaba Bush?
The Banaba Bush, which many of us commonly refer to as the Crepe myrtle or Crape myrtle, has crinkled and ruffled flowers that appear as if they could be made of crepe paper, thus the name. The genus, Lagerstroemia, contains around 50 species of shrubs native to India, parts of Asia, Australia, and the islands of Oceania. It is now cultivated in warmer climates worldwide.
The Banaba Bush is a woody plant that has a very distinct mottled bark caused by patches of the bark peeling away. Some species of Banaba are deciduous, while others are evergreen, with leaves ranging from 3-10 inches (7.6-25.4 cm) in length. It is a bush, but it can reach heights over 40 feet (12 meters).
Banaba Leaf and Blood Sugar Levels
The leaves of the Banaba Bush contain high levels of corosolic acid, which is a constituent of insulin, and could be used to decrease the insulin production of the pancreas. Because of this, drinking Banaba Leaf Tea could prove to lower an individual’s blood sugar levels making it beneficial in the treatment of diabetes. In fact, according to the International Food Information Service’s “Dictionary of Food Science and Technology,” it is currently used in both the Philippines and Japan as a treatment for diabetes.
In “The American Society for Nutritional Sciences” 2005 study, “Tannic acid stimulates glucose transport and inhibits adipocyte differentiation in 3T3-L1 cells,” it was determined that the tannic acid in Banaba leaves could be beneficial for obesity related Type 2 diabetes as well.
One randomized clinical trial done on type 2 diabetic patients found that dosages of 32-48 mg of Banaba extract standardized to 1% corosolic acid reduced blood glucose levels after being administered for 14 days. Other testing with type 2 diabetic individuals using a dose of 16-48 mg per day administered for 4-8 weeks has shown to reduce blood sugar levels between 5-30%.
Animal testing has shown that the extract created from the Banaba leaves reduces blood glucose levels, increases insulin levels, and improves hypoglycemia – all good things for someone dealing with the control and treatment of diabetes.
Weight Loss Benefits
Banaba Leaf tea, having properties that enable you to burn fat faster, has also been proven to be beneficial for weight loss. For many, fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels can lead to the craving of carbohydrates, such as breads and sweets. Because Banaba assists in keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable, it can be effective in promoting weight loss by helping to eliminate these cravings.
Many herbalists believe Banaba leaf extract is effective in suppressing appetite and controlling food cravings making it even more helpful in the battle of the bulge.
Micro Nutra Health Journal states that insulin resistance, a major contributor to obesity, has a common side effect of storing glucose as fat when blood sugar levels are elevated. Because of this, the ability of the Banaba leaf extract to lower blood sugar levels should have a direct impact on a person’s ability to lose weight.
A 1999 study took place in Tokyo where obese mice were given Banaba extract. As a result of the Banaba enhanced diet, these mice exhibited weight loss, a reduction in triglycerides, and a 65% decrease in hepatic lipids (related to weight loss).
Banaba Tea and the Urinary Tract
Banaba leaf tea is said to help individuals who have difficulties urinating. And if you are plagued with frequent UTI’s (Urinary Tract Infections), the anti-bacterial properties of Banaba leaf tea may prove to be very beneficial as well. People dealing with UTI’s should boil the leaves for 30 minutes to steep their tea.
Other Health Benefits of Banaba Leaf Tea
- Banaba is used traditionally in the Philippines as an aid in cleansing the liver.
- In Japan, Banaba leaf tea is known as a “slimming tea.”
- Banaba leaf tea has been used to treat high blood pressure, as a diuretic, and as a cleansing agent.
- In the United States, Banaba is now a component in many weight-loss formulas
- It is said to be good for controlling parasites in the gastrointestinal tract.
- According to studies, results printed in the Journal of Inflammopharmacology, on mice in 2008, Banaba leaf tea helps with inflammation because of its ability to combat free radicals.
- There is evidence that it can help with the pain of kidney stones and help prevent the formation of gall stones.
- There is also evidence that it is able to help lower blood cholesterol levels.
Making Banaba Leaf Tea
In its native locales, Banaba Leaf Tea is customarily consumed 2-4 times a day, despite its bitter flavor. Its bitterness can be diluted by mixing it with other teas to make it more palatable.
To make the tea, place the Banaba leaves in boiling water and boil for 15-30 minutes. Remove the leaves and serve. For maximum health benefits, it is recommended the tea be consumed about 4 times a day.
How to Make Banaba Tea Using a Tea Bag
Bring 1-1/2 cups (400 milliliters) water to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add tea bag. Continue to heat on low for 15 minutes. Drink tea while warm. The teabag may be reused again.
Dr. Oz and Banaba Leaf Tea
Dr. Oz has even jumped on the Banaba Leaf Tea craze! He did a show called “The Naked Hour” where he discussed not only realistically looking at yourself naked, but also the effects of drinking Banaba leaf tea and two other techniques to lose weight.
Banaba Leaf Supplements
For areas where the Banaba plants are not grown and harvested, Banaba leaf is available in supplement form. According to documentation found in Micro Nutra Health Journal, taking 8-48 mg of Banaba leaf per day may aid in weight loss by moderating blood sugar levels. Taking the supplements will enable you to reap the benefits without having to drink the bitter tasting tea.
Banaba Leaf Tea Side Effects and Precautions
No adverse reactions to Banaba leaf have been reported. There is no report of toxicology even after high doses were administered. One thing to be concerned about in the use of Banaba would be its overuse – lowering blood sugar levels too much causing headache, dizziness, fatigue, and not eating enough.
Although Banaba leaf tea has shown to be beneficial for many who are dealing with various health issues, there are certain individuals who should avoid its use.
These would include:
- Women who are either pregnant or nursing, or who intend to get pregnant.
- Women who are known to have heavy periods (bleed heavily) during their menstrual cycles
- Individuals who take the medications to treat their diabetes It is unknown how Banaba leaf supplements interact with diabetic medications; but they could enhance the medication’s performance causing severe acute hypoglycemia.
- Hypoglycemic individuals should never take Banaba as it may cause or worsen this life threatening condition.
Other precautions to consider: because of its effect on blood sugar levels, it should be avoided at least two weeks prior to any kind of surgery.
It is advisable to consult a physician before beginning the use of Banaba leaf or any other herbal supplement.
For Educational Purposes Only
The information presented here is for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. It is not intended as a substitution for medical advice from a health care professional. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Anyone considering the use of Banaba or any other supplements should seek the advice of their personal physician.
- Banaba Leaf Extract Supplement Health Benefit & Side Effects; Ray Sahelian, M.D.
- Banaba Leaf & Natural Weight Loss; Stop Insulin Resistance; MicroNutra Health Journal
- Tannic Acid Stimulates Glucose Transport and Inhibits Adipocyte Differentiation in 3T3-L1 Cells; The American Society for Nutritional Sciences
Images: Banaba (Crepe myrtle) bark - http://www.flickr.com/photos/23412868@N03/5341679594/ - jeffmason, CC BY 2.0, via flickr; Woman Drinking Banaba Leaf Tea - http://www.flickr.com/photos/kodomut/3023489163/ - kodomut, CC BY 2.0, via flickr; Banaba (Crepe Myrtle) flowers - http://www.flickr.com/photos/78428166@N00/4800736546/ - Tobyotter, CC BY 2.0, via flickr
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