Lagerstroemia speciosa, the tropical flowering tree, is one of the most outstanding summer bloomers. Lagerstroemia speciosa or banaba tree is a larger form of the more commonly grown L. indica (Crape myrtle.) Banaba is a medium-sized tree. Its leaves have been used to treat diabetes in folk medicine for centuries. In addition to their anti-diabetic properties, banaba leaves offer health benefits, such as antioxidants, cholesterol-lowering, and anti-obesity effects.
It is called Queen Crape Myrtle because it’s the Queen of the Crape Myrtles, dominating with grand size and larger, crinkled flowers. The name Crape myrtle is given to these trees/shrubs because of the flowers which look as if made from delicate crepe paper. Banaba tree is grown in South East Asia, India, and the Philippines & is also widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in tropical and subtropical areas.
Lagerstroemia or Banaba tree is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials. The wood is of good quality, considered to be one of the best timber trees in Myanmar and Assam, and is often traded. One of the most strikingly showy of flowering trees, and a good shade tree, it is commonly cultivated in gardens or along the sides of roads for its brightly colored purple or pink flowers.
Lagerstroemia tree bark is useful to control loose motions and abdominal pain in various medical conditions. Banaba Leaves and dried fruits are traditionally made into herbal tea (known as Banaba Tea in the Philippines) and consumed to support lowering of high blood pressure and blood sugar and kidney functions. Banaba leaves extracts are available as health supplements, purportedly effective for blood sugar control and weight loss.
Modern medical research shows that banaba leaf extracts promote hypoglycemic (glucose-lowering) effects due to the presence of tannins and triterpene acid called Corosolic which supports glucose metabolism. Scientific studies also showed promising effects of banaba leaf extracts on controlling blood cholesterol levels when consumed in recommended dosage on a regular basis.
Possible benefits of Lagerstroemia Speciosa aka Banaba
- Anticancer effects
- Antibacterial and antiviral potential
- Antithrombotic effect
- Protection against kidney damage
- Heart disease risk factors
- Blood sugar levels
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