What is Banaba?
Banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa) is also known as Giant Crape-myrtle, Pride of India, or Queen's Crape-myrtle. It is a small to medium sized tree with oval leaves. These leaves contain a compound that shows insulin-like effects that may have benefits for bodybuilders.
Where Does Banaba Come From?
Banaba trees grow in South East Asia, India, the Philippines, and other tropic and subtropical areas.
Banaba is known for its leaf extract which has similar effects to insulin. The effects of banaba on glucose metabolism and diabetes have been well studied all the way from the test tube level (in vitro) to human clinical trials. In vitro studies show that banaba extracts showed a similar effect to insulin in causing glucose update by cells (Liu et al, 2001). Animal studies supported these findings (Deocaris et al, 2005). However, unlike insulin, banaba extract has been found to be effective when taken orally (Garcia, 1940). Finally, the effects of banaba have been confirmed in human diabetic patients, showing that blood glucose levels were significantly reduced by banaba (Yoshi et al, 1999). These studies suggest that banaba is able to result in the more effective shuttling of glucose into cells to provide them with additional energy to improve exercise performance. Furthermore, given insulin's anabolic effects, banaba may show promise as an anabolic agent.
Banaba Negatives & Side Effects
Although the effects of banaba on glucose metabolism appear promising, it has been reported that its actions are rather slow, and may take up to 90 minutes to take effect in humans (Fukushima et al, 2006).
In a scientific review of banaba safety, it was stated that no adverse effects have been observed in either human or animal trials involving banaba (Sidney et al, 2011). Banaba is therefore considered to be safe. This is no surprise as banaba leaves have been used for centuries in Asia, and has been endorsed by the Philippine Department of Health for its healthful effects.
Banaba Recommended Doses & Ingredient Timing
Only 10 mg of one of the active ingredients of banaba has been found to be effective in causing increased cell uptake of glucose (Fukushima et al, 2006). If you intend on using banaba as a pre workout supplement, consider taking this ingredient 45 minutes to an hour before a workout.
Because of banaba's insulin mimicking properties, it occurs in a range of different supplements. They include pre workout supplements, fat burners, and weight gainers. However, relatively few supplements currently contain banaba.
Since creatine update in muscle is insulin sensitive, banaba may be stacked with creatine to increase its absorption.
Deocaris et al (2005), Hypoglycemic Activity of Irradiated Banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa Linn.) Leaves. Journal of Applied Sciencse Research, 1: 95-98
Fukushima et al (2006), Effect of corosolic acid on postchallenge plasma glucose levels. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 73: 174–177
Garcia (1940), On the hypoglycemic effect of decoction of Lagerstroemia speciosa leaves (banaba) administered orally. Journal of the Philippine Islands Medical Association 1940 Vol. 20 pp. 395-402
Liu et al (2001), An Extract of Lagerstroemia speciosa L. Has Insulin-Like Glucose Uptake–Stimulatory and Adipocyte Differentiation–Inhibitory Activities in 3T3-L1 Cells. J Nutr, 131: 2242-2247
Sidney et al (2011), A Review of the Efficacy and Safety of Banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa L.) and Corosolic Acid. Phytotherapy Research, 26: 317–324
Yoshi et al (1999), Effectiveness and Safety of Banabamin Tablet Containing Extract from Banaba in Patients with Mild Type 2 Diabetes. Japanese Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 27: 829-835