The leaves of Lagerstroemia speciosa (Lythraceae), a Southeast Asian tree more commonly known as banaba, have been traditionally consumed in various forms by Philippinos for treatment of diabetes and kidney related diseases. In the 1990s, the popularity of this herbal medicine began to attract the attention of scientists worldwide. Since then, researchers have conducted numerous in vitro and in vivo studies that consistently confirmed the antidiabetic activity of banaba. Scientists have identified different components of banaba to be responsible for its activity. Using tumor cells as a cell model, corosolic acid was isolated from the methanol extract of banaba and shown to be an active compound. More recently, a different cell model and the focus on the water soluble fraction of the extract led to the discovery of other compounds. The ellagitannin Lagerstroemin was identified as an effective component of the banaba extract responsible for the activity.
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