Banaba Leaf Helps Blood Sugar Health

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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Banaba leaf is a traditional Asian herbal medicine remedy for diabetes. In recent times it has garnered international attention for its ability to help lower blood sugar without adverse side effects. Modern science continues to build the case for banaba as an effective way to help manage blood sugar, including offsetting some of the problems like obesity and elevated cholesterol that often occur simultaneously as metabolism falters.

A current review on the topic explains the results of numerous human, animal, and cell studies. The active components in banaba leaf are corosolic acid and an ellagitannin called lagerstroemin. The research has documented multiple mechanisms by which banaba helps promote normal blood sugar metabolism.

Human studies show that it can help lower blood sugar within 60 minutes by helping the transport of sugar into cells. It has been shown to help the glucose transporter proteins, especially GLUT4, which is active in fat cells and muscle cells. Improving metabolism of insulin within fat cells helps to correct leptin problems and food cravings that are typical in overweight individuals with elevated blood sugar. The typical human response is a 10-15% decrease in blood sugar within two hours of ingestion. The researchers conclude that banaba extracts standardized to corosolic acid “decrease fasting as well as postprandial blood glucose levels in humans.”

Animal studies have explored diverse mechanisms for the blood sugar benefits, also noting assistance for issues such as elevated cholesterol and triglycerides as well as weight loss benefit. Summarizing the animal science the researchers state, “In these studies, corosolic acid has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, increase cellular uptake of glucose, decrease serum triglycerides and cholesterol, facilitate weight loss, and improve oxidative stress markers without production of adverse or toxic effects.”

Numerous cell studies also document benefits for blood sugar, improved antioxidant function, and decreased inflammation. Interestingly, bone building stimulation of osteoblasts also occurs from banaba. And it is now clear that better bone health is associated with better blood sugar metabolism.

When a person improves their quality of food intake, eats in harmony with the hormone leptin, and consistently exercises they are creating the opportunity for an improvement in blood sugar metabolism. Various nutrients, such as banaba, can also help guide struggling blood sugar metabolism back in the right direction.

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