According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million children and adults in the US have diabetes. That's 8.3% of the population and represents a 14-fold increase since 1960. This high growth has led to a growing number of pharmaceutical drugs attempting to treat the problem -- and with those drugs, a host of dangerous side effects, such as increased risk of heart failure. It's no wonder people are looking for safer, and possibly more effective, natural alternatives. Fortunately, there just might be a powerful natural alternative with banaba leaf extract.
Banaba Leaf and Low Blood Sugar Benefits
Banaba leaf, not to be confused with “banana” leaf, has been used for thousands of years in India and the Philippines to naturally treat diabetes and low blood sugar levels. It turns out these cultures were onto something -- banaba leaf and blood sugar control go hand in hand.
The blood sugar regulating properties of corosolic acid, the active ingredient in banaba leaf, have been demonstrated in cell culture, animal, and human studies. In isolated cells, for example, it is known to stimulate glucose uptake. In fact, some studies have shown that it can help lower blood sugar within sixty minutes. It has also been shown to help correct leptin problems and food cravings that are typically found in overweight individuals who have elevated blood sugar. The average human response is a 10-15% decrease in blood sugar within two hours of ingestion. For this reason, it is found in many sugar metabolic enhancement formulas including Jon Barron’s Glucotor.
In diabetic mice, rats, and rabbits, banaba feeding reduces elevated blood sugar and insulin levels to normal. In humans with type II diabetes, banaba extract, at a dose of 16-48 mg per day for 4-8 weeks, has been shown to be effective in reducing blood sugar levels (5%-30%) and in maintaining tighter control of blood sugar fluctuations.
Banaba Leaf Weight Loss Benefits
An interesting "side-effect" of tighter control of blood sugar and insulin levels is a significant tendency of banaba to promote weight loss (an average of 2-4 lbs. per month) – without significant dietary alterations. For this reason, it is found in many weight-control formulas including Jon Barron’s Accelerator Meal Replacement shake. It is likely that modulation of glucose and insulin levels reduces total caloric intake somewhat and encourages moderate weight-loss.
Banaba Leaf as a Natural Antioxidant
The leaves also contain the minerals manganese and zinc. Extracts from the seeds have been found to have powerful antioxidant properties and are in fact being researched as a possible HIV treatment.
Banaba Leaf as a Potential Cancer Killer
The corosolic acid in banaba leaves isn’t just good for blood sugar levels either. Researchers at Changhai Hospital in Shanghai, China tested corosolic acid against human cervical cancer cells. They found that corosolic acid stimulates the release of cancer-cell-killing enzymes, resulting in cancer cell death.
Banaba Leaf for Heart Health
Banaba leaf may also be effective in treating metabolic syndrome, a group of pre-diabetic conditions that increases susceptibility to heart disease and stroke. Researchers at Mukogawa Women's University in Nishinomiya, Japan found that by the end of 10 weeks of treatment with banaba leaf, blood pressure had been lowered, fat metabolism had normalized, and the body's inflammation levels had decreased.
How to Use Banaba Leaf
In folk medicine, the leaves were often brewed as a tea, which does work; however, today it can be easily found in supplement form. If you do suffer from blood sugar issues, keep in mind that taking banaba along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. As always, if you are using medication or under a doctor’s care for any medical condition, be sure and check with your doctor before using any herb or supplement.
Does low blood sugar really kill diabetes? Learn more about preventing diabetes.