Banaba Bark


Another unusual find at the weekend markets was this little clump of banaba bark. I had never noticed this for sale before. It seems banaba tea made from the dried leaves and flowers of the banaba tree is a fairly well known natural herbal remedy for things like urinary infections, diabetes and even weight loss. I had no idea. I only knew of the tree because someone we know lived on a street named Banaba. :)


The vendor looked at me like I was from Mars when I asked how it was used… as if I would easily let on that I had a urinary tract infection and just needed to wrap the fresh bark around my trunk to cure it. Not. So wash the bark and stick it in some boiling water and drink the infusion… Hmmm. Maybe not. I paid PHP20 for this portion of bark, and again, as with the sesame leaves of the previous post, I chalk that up to learning something new.

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11 Responses

  1. Since you are in the topic of unusual market finds, I think I have the answer to your post way back in 2008, “What is Lupo?”. Lupo is alligator weed, Alternanthera Philoxeroides, and yes, edible and used as vegetable in sinigang, munggo, etc. And the unidentified sineguelas in another post is Ambarella. Ambarellas are closely related to sineguelas. And I never thought that mangoes and sineguelas are related, but they are, both from the Anacardiaceae family. I love reading your unusual finds :)

  2. I’ve read at least one scientific paper (peer-reviewed) that showed banaba has an anti-diabetic component. They have isolated the chemical compound and tested its blood sugar lowering effects. I don’t know about the UTI, though. If you are ever on NLEX, you might see banaba trees along the way. They are trees with pretty purple flowers. They are related to the crepe myrtle that grow abundantly in the American southeast.

  3. Leah, you are right. The purple flowers of banaba are pretty, very pretty. I used to look forward to seeing them every spring on a tree just outside my office in Hanoi – and then saw quite a number of them along South Superhighway back home.

  4. “…just needed to wrap the fresh bark around my trunk to cure it. Not. ”

    Hahaha! Brilliant!

  5. It takes a number of years to grow a healthy tree to maturity. The banaba tree dies a slow death everytime it is stripped of its bark. This tree gives so much joy to the beholder every flowering season.

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