Tropical plant banaba may support weight loss through regulating blood sugar and reducing fat formation.
Banaba is a tropical plant whose leaves are used as a traditional remedy for diabetes. It might also be capable of promoting fat loss through:
- Lowering blood sugar, which may reduce carbohydrate cravings and help manage body weight.
- Suppressing fat formation through inhibiting the process of adipogenesis.
Banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa) is a flowering plant native to southern Asia. It is best known as a traditional herb used in the Philippines to ward off diabetes and kidney conditions. The leaves of banaba contain several bio-active ingredients that include ellagitannins and corosolic acid, which have an insulin-like effect that helps lower elevated blood sugar levels – the central feature of diabetes.
In addition, these compounds may also be able to suppress the formation of new fat cells. Given these two beneficial effects, banaba leaf extract has become a common ingredient in both antidiabetic and weight loss supplements.
How Banaba Leaf Might Help With Weight Loss
Suppressing fat formation
The process of adipogenesis (fat cell formation) includes cells called preadipocytes which transition into full adipocytes (fat cells). The ellagitannins (particularly penta-O-galloyl-glucopyranose) in banaba leaf have been demonstrated to suppress this process in isolated cells.1
Lowering blood glucose
Elevated blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) is a central feature of diabetes and may also make it more difficult to manage body weight. The corosolic acid and ellagitannins present in banaba leaf have been demonstrated to promote glucose uptake, and reduce gluconeogenesis and the digestion of carbohydrates, resulting in reduced blood glucose concentrations.2
Banaba Leaf Fat Loss Benefits
Banaba leaf extract is used in both standalone and multi-ingredient antidiabetic and weight loss supplements. Research evidence for banaba’s beneficial effect on blood sugar levels is fairly solid, and some people also report reduced carbohydrate cravings.
Banaba leaf may also be capable of promoting fat and overall weight loss; however, it is important to note that this effect has yet to be examined in human trials.
Animal research demonstrates that compounds in banaba leaves may be able to both control blood sugar and promote weight loss.
The goal of this study was to examine the biological activities of the active compounds in banaba. The researchers isolated seven ellagitannin compounds and then tested their effects on isolated mouse preadypocites (precursors to fat cells). The ellagitannins were found to both stimulate the uptake of glucose, and also suppress the transition from preadipocytes into fat cells.
- The researchers concluded that “this provides a potential to develop banaba-derived compounds as glucose-lowering and weight-controlling supplemental products“3
In this study, diabetic mice were fed either a normal (control) diet or a diet containing 5% banaba leaf extract. The banaba group saw a significant reduction in body weight gain and fat tissue in some parts of the body, as well as lowered liver fat content.
- The researchers concluded that “banaba had a beneficial effect on obese female KK-Ay mice“4
This study examined the effects of corosolic acid in mice fed a high-fat diet for 9 weeks. The treatment significantly lowered blood glucose, insulin, and triglyceride levels. More importantly, it also resulted in a 10% body weight and 15% fat loss.
- The researchers concluded that “CRA treatment can contribute to reduced body weight and amelioration of hepatic steatosis in mice fed a high fat diet“5
The major issue with human trials of banaba leaf extract is that most studies examine proprietary, multi-ingredient supplements, which makes it difficult to isolate the effects of banaba alone.
This randomized trial examined the antidiabetic effect of banaba leaf extract. Ten adults (aged 55-70) with type 2 diabetes received the extract (16 – 48 mg, standardized to 1% corosolic acid) daily for 15 days and had their blood glucose measured. The 32 and 48 mg doses were found to reduce blood sugar by as much as 30%.
- The researchers concluded that “These results clearly show that oral formulations of an extract from the leaves of Lagerstroemia speciosa…exert a marked lowering of blood sugar in Type II diabetics“6
Dosage for Fat Loss
- Banaba has not yet been examined as a weight loss supplement in humans, but doses of 16 – 48 mg banaba leaf extract have been used for diabetics
- Banaba leaf extract supplements usually come in 60 – 300 mg doses, and may be standardized to contain 1-2% corosolic acid
- Banaba leaves can also come in the form of herbal tea
Supplements in Review Says
- Banaba leaf extract 250 – 300 mg 1-2 times daily.
The science behind banaba leaf extract is sound. Banaba has been demonstrated to lower blood glucose by as much as 30%, and if animal research is any indication, it may also be capable of promoting weight loss directly.
It’s best to follow supplement dose recommendations. Given the lack of dose data from research, it’s best to stick to the 250 – 300 mg dosages used by the most popular banaba leaf supplements.
- Klein G et al. Antidiabetes and Anti-obesity Activity of Lagerstroemia speciosa. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2007 Dec;4(4):401-7. ↩
- Miura T et al. Management of Diabetes and Its Complications with Banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa L.) and Corosolic Acid. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:871495. ↩
- Bai N et al. Active compounds from Lagerstroemia speciosa, insulin-like glucose uptake-stimulatory/inhibitory and adipocyte differentiation-inhibitory activities in 3T3-L1 cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Dec 24;56(24):11668-74. ↩
- Suzuki Y et al. Antiobesity activity of extracts from Lagerstroemia speciosa L. leaves on female KK-Ay mice. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 1999 Dec;45(6):791-5. ↩
- Yamada K et al. Dietary corosolic acid ameliorates obesity and hepatic steatosis in KK-Ay mice. Biol Pharm Bull. 2008 Apr;31(4):651-5. ↩
- Judy WV et al. Antidiabetic activity of a standardized extract (Glucosol) from Lagerstroemia speciosa leaves in Type II diabetics. A dose-dependence study. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Jul;87(1):115-7. ↩