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The Use and Benefits of Banaba or Giant Crepe Myrtle

Medically reviewed by Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD · Pharmacology

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Dec 19, 2022

The Use and Benefits of Banaba or Giant Crepe Myrtle

Herbal remedies have been around since the early days of medicine. While these days, synthetic medicine has replaced a lot of herbal remedies, there is still a place for medicinal plants when it comes to health. One well-known plant is called Lagerstroemia speciosa, better known by its common name, banaba. Banaba is touted to help with diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, kidney problems, and even urinary tract infections or UTI. Read on to learn more about the possible uses and benefits of banaba.

Uses and Benefits of Banaba

What Is Lagerstroemia speciosa or Banaba?

The Banaba plant is a tree native to Southeast Asia. It is widely known as a folk remedy for decades, with the first research study about it done back in 1940.

It is known as banaba in the Philippines, but is also referred to as crepe myrtle, pride of India, giant crape myrtle, and queen’s flower.

Banaba typically grows in tropical areas, and can reach up to 40 to 60 feet tall, and has a spread of about 30 to 40 feet.

Its lavender-colored flowers are known for their beauty. Additionally, it is not uncommon for people to plant banaba trees for medicinal, as well as aesthetic purposes.

What Are the Uses and Benefits of Banaba?

Typically, the leaves of Banaba are used for medicinal purposes. This is because it contains corosolic acid, which can help lower blood sugar levels.

Ahead, let’s take a closer look at more uses and benefits of Banaba.

For Diabetes

For decades, one of the uses and benefits of Banaba has been as a diabetes folk remedy. Boil the leaves or steep it in hot water. Drink it the same as you would hot tea.

These days, banaba leaves in capsule form are available and have reportedly similar effects.

Banaba owes its effectiveness to the high levels of corosolic acid in its leaves. Corosolic acid is a known anti-diabetic chemical.

Some studies support this claim. Researchers have found that taking banaba leaf extract leads to improved insulin sensitivity. This helps in lowering blood glucose levels in diabetics.

The fruit of the banaba tree also helps with diabetes, however, the leaves are more commonly used for this purpose.

For Weight Loss

Banaba has also been touted to be a weight-loss booster. The leaves are believed to help contribute to weight loss and it can be drunk as tea or taken in capsule form.

It is believed that corosolic acid, banaba’s active constituent, helps improve a person’s metabolism. This can promote weight loss with proper diet and exercise. 

For Urinary Tract Infections or UTI

Among the uses and benefits of Banaba are helping treat UTI.

Banaba leaves are also sometimes used to treat urinary tract infections. This is because of its antioxidants and anti-microbial properties.

However, there is little evidence of this. No conclusive study has been done regarding the use of banaba leaves for urinary tract infections.

The flowers of banaba are also sometimes used, although less frequently than the leaves, as a folk remedy.

The flowers reportedly have antioxidant and anti-microbial properties. They are typically boiled in water to extract the chemicals in the flower.

The bark of Banaba has also been used traditionally to treat abdominal pain.  

Precautions & Warnings

There have been no reported side effects when it comes to taking banaba leaves as a supplement to help with diabetes.

However, for pregnant or lactating mothers, it would be best to avoid banaba.

This is because there is little research as to its effects on pregnancy or lactation.

While several studies support the claim that banaba does help with lowering blood sugar, it is still a good idea to talk to your doctor about it.

Doctors usually do not recommend banaba as the only treatment of diabetes. But it could  aid in managing the disease as a supplement.

Because of its blood sugar lowering ability, banaba may cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, which could be potentially dangerous.

That is why it is important to talk to your physician first, if you are planning on using banaba for medicinal purposes.


When it comes to harnessing the uses and benefits of Banaba, the best thing to do would be to refer to your physician.

They would best be able to tell you if it would be okay to take Banaba, especially if you are suffering from diabetes, or have high blood sugar levels that you want to get under control.

It is also important to know that while Banaba leaves can be used as a supplement or to aid with diabetes, it should not be relied on as the sole means of managing blood sugar, especially for people with long-standing diabetes. 

Key Takeaways

While doctors do recognize the effectiveness of certain herbal remedies, it could be difficult to know the dosage of chemicals and possible side effects that herbal remedies might have.

This means that they could sometimes do more harm than good, especially if a person is self-medicating. 

While the uses and benefits of banaba are many, it is always a good idea to discuss any treatment with your physician first.

Learn more about herbal medicine, here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD


Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Dec 19, 2022

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