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Banaba: An All-Around Medicinal Tree

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Few trees have both aesthetic and medicinal values.
One such example is the banaba tree (Lagerstroemiaspeciosa).
Found in tropical countries like the Philippines, the banaba grows up to 20 meters tall.
A flowery tree, it is commonly planted throughout rural areas as an ornamental tree because its purplish flowers are quite a sight when in bloom.
But the main reason why folks in the Philippines love to plant banaba is the tremendous health benefits that it brings.
Its leaves, for instance, have been a regular staple in Filipino folk medicine.
Treatment of diabetes is one of the most common medicinal uses of the tree's leaves.
Recent findings have validated the efficacy of L.
speciosa leaves on fighting type 2 diabetes.
Scientists have discovered that the tree's leaves contain corosolic acid.
An insulin-like compound, corosolic acid can efficiently lower abnormally high blood sugar levels.
Those who have weight problems can also benefit from banaba leaves.
One main reason why fat is formed in the body is through accumulation of excess carbohydrate.
Because of its blood sugar control properties, banaba leaf extract can prevent increase in carbohydrate storage, which leads to lesser fat formation.
Recent studies have recorded that compounds from the banaba tree's leaves can help obese type 2 diabetes patients shed off 2-4 pounds of weight per week.
Banaba leaves also have diuretic properties and can be very helpful for people who have problems urinating normally.
And for those who are suffering from urinary tract infections (UTI), leaves from the medicinal tree may provide relief because of their anti-bacterial properties.
Matured leaves are boiled for about 30 minutes and consumed as tea by patients with UTI.
Aside from containing anti-diabetes and anti-bacterial compounds, L.
speciosa leaves are also rich in valoneic acid dilactone (VAD), which is a very effective compound in treating gout.
VAD acts by inhibiting activity of xanthine oxidase, an enzyme that oxidizes xanthine to uric acid.
By effectively preventing build-up of uric acid, VAD in banaba leaves is a boon to those who suffer from gout.
In fact, results from a Japanese study last 2004 suggest that VAD in L.
speciosa leaves may be more effective in inhibiting xanthine oxidase than allopurinol, the active compound used in many gout prescription drugs like Zyloprim.
Leaves, however, are not the only medicinally useful parts of banaba.
Other parts of the banaba tree have beneficial health effects.
Its flowers are commonly boiled to make anti-diarrhea concoction.
Banaba flowers also have diuretic properties and are very useful to people with bladder problems.
Roots of the banaba tree can also be boiled to effectively treat canker sores.
Its bark, on the other hand, can also be ground and boiled to make a natural laxative and cure constipation.
The banaba tree is indeed an all-around herbal remedy that can be used to help ease various conditions.
What is amazing with this tree is that almost all of its parts (leaves, flowers, roots, and bark) have beneficial medicinal properties.
Scientific studies are slowly proving the efficacy of banaba in treating several diseases.
With more research in the future the full effectiveness of the banaba as a medicinal tree will be scientifically validated.
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