In and of itself, glucose (sugar) is not a bad thing. In fact, it is necessary for providing energy to cells. But when we disrupt our body’s natural balance—by eating too many carbs and too little fiber—blood sugar levels can fall or rise too quickly and lead to serious conditions including Syndrome X, insulin resistance, and hyperglycemia, or diabetes.
Hyperglycemia is the overproduction of insulin by the pancreas in response to a rapid rise in blood glucose levels. Insulin regulates carbohydrate metabolism by controlling blood sugar levels. Stress and poor eating habits can create an insulin imbalance. During a meal, the insulin level is a determining factor in signaling the brain that your body is full. But low insulin levels will elevate glucose and cause you to eat more, and consequently gain weight. It becomes a vicious cycle, because overweight people burn sugar less efficiently than people who maintain a healthy weight.
Insulin is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy, and is responsible for getting blood sugar into the cells. Insulin receptors on the surface of cells act like doors that open and close, regulating the inflow of blood sugar. Unfortunately, after one has consumed a high-carbohydrate diet for years, these insulin receptors, which have been besieged by insulin, begin to collapse and shut down. Consequently, with fewer doors open, the body needs to produce even more insulin to push the glucose into the cells. More insulin causes even more doors to close and as this cycle continues, a condition called Insulin Resistance sets in.
Insulin resistance can go undetected for up to 40 years, or until serious complications begin to surface. As the need for insulin rises, the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce enough insulin to push the blood sugar into the cells, and an extreme case of insulin resistance develops type 2 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes usually need insulin delivered by a pump or injection. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes can be controlled by exercise, whole foods, low carb diet, and nutritional supplements. Type 1 diabetes usually strikes children and young adults—which is why it’s usually called juvenile diabetes—although onset can occur at any age. It accounts for 5% to 10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes, and the risk factors include autoimmune, genetic, and environmental causes.
The new epidemic
An estimated 18 million Americans have diabetes, but 5.2 million are unaware they have the disease. Add to that another 20.1 million Americans who have a pre-diabetic condition that involves higher than normal glucose levels, but not high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.1 How did we end up with what medical professionals are calling a full-blown epidemic?
Type 2 diabetes
It’s no secret that Americans—the wealthiest people on earth—eat a “poor” diet laden with over-processed foods that are high in carbs and saturated fats. Although diabetes and other serious blood sugar conditions can be genetic, they often develop as a result of poor diet and lack of exercise. It’s no wonder, then, that type 2 diabetes is becoming more prevalent in children and adolescents,1 and now accounts for 90 to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes in the U.S.1 The disease is becoming so rampant, in fact, experts expect the incidence of type 2 diabetes to double during this decade.
Unfortunately, type 2 diabetes increases risk of serious long-term complications including cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, and loss of vision.
The good news is that many people with blood sugar disorders and type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose by eating a diet of fresh, whole foods—including lean poultry, meat and fish, and little or no carbohydrates—exercising regularly, losing excess weight, and taking nutritional supplements, including Banaba Extract.
- Balances blood sugar
- Regulates insulin levels
- Supports healthy weight loss
Banaba is a botanical extract that comes from the leaves of the banaba tree. In Southeast Asia and the Philippines, the leaves are traditionally used as an herbal medicine to treat diabetes and hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar).
Corosolic acid, a triterpenoid found in the leaves, helps regulate blood sugar by stimulating glucose uptake. This blood sugar lowering effect is similar to that of insulin—which induces glucose transport from the blood into body cells.23 Animal studies have shown it to be effective for treating both diabetes and obesity.345
Researchers have found that corosolic acid is not the only active ingredient in banaba leaves. Studies show that Banaba extract contains at least three other active ingredients—lager-stroemin, flosin B and reginin A. These natural phytochemicals regulate glucose uptake, and could be responsible for lowering blood glucose levels.67
The blood sugar regulating properties of banaba have been demonstrated in cell culture, animal and human studies. In diabetic mice, banaba reduced elevated blood sugar and insulin levels to normal.345 Additionally, total blood cholesterol levels were lowered.7
In a study of humans with type 2 diabetes, Banaba extract showed a 30% reduction in blood glucose levels.8
Induces weight loss
For some people, fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin are related to appetite, hunger, and food cravings, particularly for carbohydrates such as bread, pastries, and desserts. By keeping blood sugar and insulin levels in check, Banaba extract may be an effective supplement for promoting weight loss in certain individuals. Researchers theorize that modulation of glucose and insulin levels reduces total caloric intake somewhat and encourages moderate weight loss.
A Japanese study done on overweight mice found that the mice fed Banaba extract had a significant decrease in weight and body fat, and a decrease of up to 65% in blood lipids.3
Lower your risk
Even if you have a genetic predisposition for diabetes, you can lower your risk. Consider adding Banaba extract to your health regimen, and other nutritional supplements such as Salacia Reticulata, Lipoic Acid, Chromium Picolinate, Carnosine, and Green Tea extract which have all been shown to help normalize glucose levels.
Exercise actually helps the body use insulin better, and a new study suggests that regular exercise alone cuts pre-diabetes risk.9 And if you’re really serious about controlling your blood sugar and weight, it’s essential to eat an “insulin smart” or low-carb diet.
How safe is Banaba?
Prescribed diabetes treatments may produce side effects or low blood sugar, but there are no known negative side effects associated with Banaba extract at suggested doses. It does produce the positive effects of lowering trigyceride and LDL cholesterol, which aid in weight loss!
Although doses of Banaba extract as low as 48 mg per day are effective in reducing blood glucose and insulin levels in humans, much higher doses have been used in animal studies, resulting in significant weight loss. For best results, begin with 100 mg daily and slowly increase the dosage to 100 mg three times daily with meals.
- American Diabetes Association, http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-statistics/national-diabetes-fact-sheet.jsp (29 July 2004)
- Hattori K, Sukenobu N, Sasaki T, Takasuga S, Hayashi T, Kasai R, Yamasaki K, Hazeki O. Activation of insulin receptors by lagerstroemin. J Pharmacol Sci. 2003 Sep;93(1):69-73.
- Suzuki Y, Unno T, Ushitani M, Hayashi K, Kakuda T. “Antiobesity activity of extracts from Lagerstroemia speciosa L. leaves on female KK-Ay mice.” J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 1999 Dec;45(6):791-5.
- Liu F, Kim J, Li Y, Liu X, Li J, Chen X. An extract of Lagerstroemia speciosa L. has insulin-like glucose uptake-stimulatory and adipocyte differentiation-inhibitory activities in 3T3-L1 cells. J Nutr. 2001 Sep;131(9):2242-7.
- Hayashi T, Maruyama H, Kasai R, Hattori K, Takasuga S, Hazeki O, Yamasaki K, Tanaka T. Ellagitannins from Lagerstroemia speciosa as activators of glucose transport in fat cells. Planta Med. 2002 Feb;68(2):173-5.
- Hosoyama H, Sugimoto A, Suzuki Y, Sakane I, Kakuda T. [Isolation and quantitative analysis of the alpha-amylase inhibitor in Lagerstroemia speciosa (L.) Pers. (Banaba)] Yakugaku Zasshi. 2003 Jul;123(7):599-605. [Article in Japanese]
- Kakuda T, Sakane I, Takihara T, Ozaki Y, Takeuchi H, Kuroyanagi M. Hypoglycemic effect of extracts from Lagerstroemia speciosa L. leaves in genetically diabetic KK-AY mice. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 1996 Feb;60(2):204-8.
- Judy WV, Hari SP, Stogsdill WW, Judy JS, Naguib YM, Passwater R. Antidiabetic activity of a standardized extract (Glucosol) from Lagerstroemia speciosa leaves in Type II diabetics. A dose-dependence study. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Jul;87(1):115-7.
- American Diabetes Association, Inc. “Physical Activity/Exercise and Diabetes Mellitus.” Diabetes Care, 2003, vol. 26, no. 3