The Health Benefits of Banaba

Banaba can promote weight loss and treat high blood pressure.

The leaves and flowers of the Lagerstroemia speciosa tree

Ariefrahman / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

For centuries, extracts from the banaba tree's leaves has been used for medicinal purposes. It is thought that banaba extracts can help with endocrine health, weight management, and even blood pressure.

What Is Banaba?

As a medicinal product extracted from tree leaves native to Southeast Asia (named Lagerstroemia speciosa), banaba has long been used for a range of health issues. Proponents claim that banaba
supplements can promote weight loss and offer anti-inflammatory properties.

Banaba contains ellagitannins, which are compounds with antioxidant effects, and corosolic
acid, which is reported to lower blood sugar levels within 60 minutes and stimulate glucose transport into cells. Banaba is often marketed as a natural weight-loss aid, but it may not be the best choice. Here is an overview of what you need to know about banaba.

Health Benefits   

There is limited scientific research demonstrating the potential health benefits of banaba. Here's a look at several key study findings.

May Help With Weight Management

Banaba is mainly marketed as a weight-loss remedy. Researchers investigated its effectiveness in a study on consuming herbs to lose weight. Results showed that after a 12-week treatment period, participants taking an herbal blend with banaba lost significantly more weight and body fat mass compared to those taking a placebo.

Participants also experienced a greater reduction in waist and hip circumference than the control group. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness and safety of using banaba as a weight-loss tool.

May Reduce the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Banaba supplements could help with glycemic control and reduce the need for insulin therapy when used as a complement to standard diabetes treatments. According to review on banaba and natural supplements, researchers found that they have the potential to reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes in the at-risk population. Banaba may also help achieve optimal glycemic control. But more research is needed to determine its safety and effectiveness.

May Lower Blood Pressure

Banaba could help lower blood pressure, according to research on the supplement's effects. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, blood pressure, body weight, and waist circumference were evaluated with participants taking 500 milligrams of banaba twice a day before
breakfast and dinner for 12 weeks. 

Researchers found that after consuming banaba, participants had significant decreases in systolic blood pressure compared to the control group. If you have an interest in using banaba to lower your blood pressure, it is paramount that you speak to a healthcare provider first. They can let you know if it is safe and if there is a possibility it could interact with your existing blood pressure medications.

May Contain Preventative Compounds

In an investigation on banaba flowers, researchers found this plant can neutralize free radicals, which cause aging. These results were due to the high antioxidant content (antioxidants are compounds that counteract the damaging, aging effects of free radicals), phenols, flavonoids, and
corosolic acid. The banaba extract also could help protect against certain viruses and bacteria, such as a common cold and the viruses Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus megaterium.

Possible Side Effects

Consuming banaba could cause certain side effects, including sleep disturbances and headaches. If you are taking banaba, try taking a smaller dosage, supplementing with food, or discontinuing use. Keep in mind, research is not available on what occurs when consuming banaba supplements for a long period of time. You should speak with a healthcare provider before you add banaba to your dietary regimen.

Pregnant and nursing women, children, immunocompromised people, and those taking medications should avoid taking banaba supplements. Additionally, self-treating diabetes, high blood pressure, or any other condition with banaba and avoiding or delaying standard care might have serious consequences.

Likewise, you should avoid banaba if you take medication to lower your blood pressure. Banaba supplements could cause your blood pressure to reach below what is medically acceptable.

Dosage and Preparation

Limited clinical data shows exact dosing recommendations of banaba. In one study, doses of 32 milligrams or 48 milligrams of extract of the banaba leaves were given daily for 10 days to patients with type 2 diabetes. Speak with a healthcare provider to learn what is best for you based on your health history.

The appropriate dose depends on your health, age, and tolerance. Additionally, supplements have not been tested for safety and are largely unregulated, so the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label. 

What to Look For

If you consume banaba supplements, look for products that contain the USP (United States
Pharmacopeia) seal, as this ensures high quality. The label also should not list any treatment, cure, or relief of symptoms for a disease, as this is illegal per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Due to the lack of supporting research, banaba is not recommended for weight loss or any other health-related purpose. If you consider using banaba, you should consult with a healthcare provider first.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you make banaba tea?

    Banaba tea is made by brewing the parts of the plant, mainly the leaves and flowers. Typically, people add 2 teaspoons of the dried plant into a tea infuser. Bring the water to a boil and pour over the plants and steep. Complementary ingredients, such as honey or stevia can be added to sweeten the beverage.

  • How does banaba leaf lower blood sugar?

    Corosolic acid, found in a banaba leaf, is reported to decrease blood sugar levels within 60 minutes. This occurs by improving the insulin pathways. Corosolic acid can also act as an insulin sensitizer and enhance glucose transportation.

    However, if you consume a nutritious, balanced diet, you will likely not need to take any supplements, including banaba. Supplements are not regulated and their efficacy and safety are not supported by solid evidence, so always speak with a healthcare provider prior to adding a product to your routine.

  • How long does it take for banaba leaf to work?

    If you decide to use banaba, or if you have a healthcare provider who signed off on its use, allow 2 weeks to see any effects. During these first 2 weeks, you might want to keep to a smaller dosage and always follow what your doctor recommends.

  • When should I take banaba?

    Banaba can be taken at anytime, provided a healthcare provider has signed off on its use. If you are taking banaba, you might want to take the supplement with food. It also may help to take it earlier in the day because it may provide energy and could interrupt nightly sleep.

7 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Miura T, Takagi S, Ishida T. Management of diabetes and its complications with banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa L.) and corosolic acidEvid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:871495. doi:10.1155/2012/871495

  2. Chong P, Beah Z, Grube B, Riede L. Iqp‐gc‐101 reduces body weight and body fat mass: a randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled studyPhytother Res. 2014;28(10):1520-1526. doi:10.1002/ptr.5158

  3. Kouzi SA, Yang S, Nuzum DS, Dirks-Naylor AJ. Natural supplements for improving insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in skeletal muscleFront Biosci (Elite Ed). 2015;7(1):94-106. doi:10.2741/E720

  4. López-Murillo LD, González-Ortiz M, Martínez-Abundis E, Cortez-Navarrete M, Pérez-Rubio KG. Effect of banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa) on metabolic syndrome, insulin sensitivity, and insulin secretion. Published online 2022. doi:10.1089/jmf.2021.0039

  5. Sharmin T, Rahman MdS, Mohammadi H. Investigation of biological activities of the flowers of Lagerstroemia speciosa, the Jarul flower of BangladeshBMC Complement Altern Med. 2018;18:231. doi:10.1186/s12906-018-2286-6

  6. FDA. Dietary Supplements.

  7. Miura T, Takagi S, Ishida T. Management of diabetes and its complications with banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa L.) and corosolic acidEvid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:871495. doi:10.1155/2012/871495

Additional Reading

By Jennifer Purdie, M.Ed, CPT
Jennifer Purdie, M.Ed, is a certified personal trainer, freelance writer, and author of "Growth Mindset for Athletes, Coaches and Trainers."