The Banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa) is a tree belonging to the Lythraceae family, originally from Southeast Asia and decorated with beautiful flowers ranging from bright pink to purple lavender. The Banaba tree grows wild in the forests of the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, but is also very common in Australia and on the Pacific coast.
Properties of the Banaba
Banaba leaves (Lagerstroemia speciosa) rich in corosolic acid.
Local traditional medicine in Southeast Asia uses Banaba leaves rich in phytotherapeutic active ingredients to treat weight gain, obesity and hyperglycaemia, but also to assist in the treatment of type II diabetes and kidney problems.
Banaba leaves (which are commercially available in the form of dry extract, capsules or tablets), can be of great help to those predisposed to the development of insulin resistance typical of metabolic syndrome. The recent popularity of this plant in the Western medical world has aroused interest in many researchers precisely because of its hypoglycaemic properties, confirmed by several studies.
Banaba is mainly used as a dietary supplement to control blood sugar levels and has proven to be useful in treating cases of weight gain and obesity, encouraging a healthy lifestyle and a targeted diet to counteract nervous hunger due to blood sugar fluctuations.
The role of corosolic acid
Research has identified hypoglycaemic action in various components of the plant, but it is mainly thanks to the corosolic acidcontained in the Banaba leaves that there is an "insulin-like" effect.
The acid boosts the entry and use of glucose by the cells, allowing for better absorption of monosaccharide and intervening in a positive way in the regulation of sugar and plasma insulin levels.
It is not surprising that in the nutraceutical field, this substance is also called "phyto-insulin" or "green insulin" because of its ability to modulate insulin and glucose levels.
It must be said that natural remedies such as Banaba are not very effective if the person does not lead a balanced lifestyle, in particular if too many simple sugars, saturated fats, trans-fats and very refined foods are being consumed, or where the lifestyle is too sedentary or with little physical activity.
Does Banaba reduce nervous hunger?
Obesity and weight gain: two pathologies that Banaba helps to treat.
The nutraceutical integration of Banaba in the diet helps exploit its potential not only to control blood sugar, but also to reduce hunger "attacks" (so-called nervous hunger), thereby promoting weight loss. In fact, blood sugar fluctuations are often associated with that irresistible desire for carbohydrate-rich foods, such as cakes, pasta and bread, that we all know very well.
Among the various studies that have revealed its characteristics, one has especially been published (by Biosci Biotechnol Biochem) where it is shown that herbal tea based on Banaba leaves inhibits the action of α-amylase by up to 38%, while other research suggests that extracts of methanol and water within the leaves of this plant can counteract both α-amylasemia and α-glucosidases.
These two enzymes are involved in the digestion of carbohydrates and are responsible for increasing blood glucose levels after eating foods containing starches and sugars. Thus, by hindering their enzymatic activity, the absorption of carbohydrates slows down, leading to better control of blood sugar levels.
The use of dosages tested by scientific research ranges from 8 to 48 mg of 1% corosolic acid extract .
No toxic effects have been reported at these levels, so the Banaba is considered to be a safe plant.
As a precautionary measure due to lack of specific experimentation, it is preferable for pregnant women and children not to use it. Before starting to use Banaba exclusively or as an adjuvant, you should always consult your doctor or diabetologist.
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