What is Banaba Leaf?

Tracey Parece

Banaba leaf comes from the banaba bush, or Lagerstroemia speciosa, an ornamental plant indigenous to Australia, Southeast Asia, and India. It is also found in other warm climates throughout the world including the temperate regions of the United States, where it is commonly known as crepe myrtle. In addition to its use as a decorative shrub, the banaba bush has been prized for its medicinal properties. Banaba leaf extract contains high levels of a plant insulin known as corosolic acid. Studies have shown that the corosolic acid naturally present in banaba leaf may improve blood sugar control in type II diabetics.

Banaba leaf may be taken in supplement form.
Banaba leaf may be taken in supplement form.

Banaba has been used for years in the Philippines and other parts of Asia as a method of controlling blood sugar. It may stimulate the transport of glucose into the cells resulting in lower blood sugar levels. Other natural herbs that may assist in lowering blood sugar include lipoic acid, fenugreek, chromium, and cinnamon. Homeopathic remedies for high blood sugar sometimes use a combination of these herbs and nutrients for maximum effect.

Hypoglycemia is one possible side effect of taking banaba leaf.
Hypoglycemia is one possible side effect of taking banaba leaf.

Some users have reported a decrease in blood cholesterol levels when using banaba leaf. It has also been used for the relief of urinary tract infections, and may aid weight loss when used as an appetite suppressant to control food cravings. In animal studies, weight loss occurred with the ingestion of banaba leaf extract without the reduction of calories.

Medical supervision while taking banaba leaf is particularly important for diabetics.
Medical supervision while taking banaba leaf is particularly important for diabetics.

Additional studies have indicated that the corosolic acid present in banaba leaf may have practical applications in treating bacterial infections, upset stomach, and cough. Elevated lipid-blood levels and elevated levels of fatty acid compounds in the blood may be decreased with its use as well. In addition, evidence has shown that the regular use of banaba leaf tea may provide relief for the discomfort associated with kidney stones and help prevent gallbladder stones.

Banaba tea can be used to dissolve kidney stones.
Banaba tea can be used to dissolve kidney stones.

Banaba leaf extract is commonly ingested in the form of tea, juice, or dietary supplements. Some of the only known side effects of banaba leaf are fatigue, dizziness, and headache associated with hypoglycemia, commonly known as low blood sugar. There may also be interactions with other medications and herbal remedies. It is always a good idea to consult a physician before beginning a regimen including this or any other homeopathic remedy. Medical supervision while using this supplement is particularly important for individuals being treated for diabetes because it can compound the effects of common diabetes drugs like insulin, phenformin, chlorpropamide, and glyburide.

Regular use of banaba leaf may help prevent gallbladder stones.
Regular use of banaba leaf may help prevent gallbladder stones.

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Discussion Comments


I have been taking Banaba leaf for about a month. I lost 27 pounds and the cravings for sugar have gone away. My glucose level has not evened out. In normal people, Banaba leaf is supposed to lower levels in two hours, but mine goes up and up. Without taking Banaba leaf, my glucose after eating (two hours later) is 117, but when taking the herb it is close to 150. I have also tried bitter melon and fenugereek with the same results: glucose goes up when it is supposed to go down. I have also tried acai berry and gogi berry; both make my glucose go up. I have tried garcinia, which takes off my weight, but again my glucose goes up.

I am on a very low carb diet with ketones in the moderate to high level, and my energy level is great. I do not mix the herbs, but now that I have gone through the majority to control my glucose level, I will start to mix them to see if I can control my glucose levels and hopefully bring my weight down another 90 pounds.


I tried a banaba leaf supplement and it made me really really tired. I'm talking like cough syrup, fall out of your chair tired. I tried it several times and I had the same effect each time. Eventually I just gave up on it, its not worth the trouble.

But I know that my experience is unique. My boyfriend was so amazed by the side effects that he actually wanted to try it for himself (he is kind of weird like that). He took and even larger dose than I had and he had no troubles at all. In fact he ended up taking it regularly and finished the bottle for me. So don't necessarily be scared away. I obviously had a unique experience with banaba leaf.


I actually have several banaba leaf plants in my backyard. I grow them both for their ornamental qualities and their medicinal benefits.

They look great in my backyard mixed in with several other shrubs. Of course they are not indigenous to my area but I've had no trouble keeping them alive.

I also like to have them around so that I can make a tea out of their leaves. I do this probably 3 times a week. I am not trying to cure anything specific, I have always just heard that this was really good for you and figured I might as well drink a little.

The flavor is pretty good and I do think it gives me a little health boost. My doctor tells me that I'm doing well so I have to believe that whatever I'm doing now is worth keeping up. Anybody that has access to a banaba bush should give this a shot.


@letshearit - Banaba leaf has helped me lose some weight, though it should be noted it was because it helped keep my blood sugar levels even. When your blood sugar levels are normal you crave sugar less which can help you stop shoveling sweets into your mouth.

You mentioned a craving for salty things. In that case I am not sure if banaba leaf would help you very much. Salt cravings could actually be caused by dehydration. You may not be drinking enough water and for some reason the body goes after salt when it is thirsty. Try drinking a lot more water and see if it helps you any.


Has anyone ever tried banaba leaf supplements for weight loss? If so, what was your experience like, did it actually help you shed some pounds?

I have been looking for something to take that will help me overcome cravings for salty foods. I absolutely love potato chips and saltines. I have actually gained some weight from my salt addiction and while I had no trouble cutting sweets from my diet, it seems nearly impossible to drop salty foods.

According to my doctor I am at risk of diabetes if I don't drop some weight. So I am hoping that the banaba leaf can also help keep my blood sugar in the normal range.

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