. One of the Holy Grails of preparedness and self-sufficiency in controlling blood sugar in people with diabetes. I have seen many ingenious ideas on how to keep insulin cold without refrigeration. Some ideas are… lowering your supply into a well, or keeping it in a stream of cool water. The best refrigeration idea I have seen is to have a solar panel, a battery, a 12 volt ice maker and a good cooler. Basically you have a solar powered refrigerator. These ideas are great, but what if access to insulin or other medication is beyond what you may have on hand. That inspired me to see if insulin is available in any natural reproducible sources. In that search I stumbled upon the herb known as Banaba. According to the research I did, it is used largely in the Philippines and in Japan to treat diabetes. Of course my first thought was that this is obviously too good to be true. So I hit Web-MD and RxList because if THEY say it lowers blood sugar then… it probably lowers blood sugar. Well, they say it isn’t “confirmed to lower blood sugar” but if you take blood sugar medication they warn you to use caution, because if you consume it… it could lower your blood sugar to dangerous levels. Ya, sort of a screwy way of saying it works without having to be held to any liability. The biggest surprise to me was that the Latin name Lagerstroemia indica is the same as the Crepe Myrtle that blankets the south.
Yes, you heard (read) me right, Crepe Myrtle. The tree in every parking lot, church yard, and median strip in North and South Carolina. I will be honest with you, when we moved on our property, before I even thought of food foresting, or planting an orchard. I planted Crepe Myrtles around the edges of our property line. They are beautiful, but I will admit that over time I found myself saying… “Lord, if this life of being more reliant on you is your will, why did you let me plant these trees all over the place? They are just a waste of space.” (I really had this conversation with Him) I did feel a peace that since they flowered and were so nice to look at, I could console myself with the fact that they attracted pollinators and since I was planting fruit trees this would be a good thing. Then after this discovery, I find myself looking at those trees and thinking, “Wow God, you knew this already, you blessed me without me even knowing, I just had to wait and see.” He loves us, we just need to open our eyes and seek His treasures.
You can read some of the research I did, for yourself:
Here is how i make my tea:
Then lay it out to dry. This can be done in the sun, between 2 screens from your bedroom window. Or if your wife objects to that, you can use a dehydrator. Watch it closely because it doesn’t take long 1 or 2 hours depending on how wet the leaves are.
After that, just crush the leaves in a plastic bag with a rolling-pin. I keep my leaves in a glass jar with some rice grains in it to make sure they stay dry. When its time for tea, just steep. You can use a single cup steeper or do a large batch with a large strainer and a pot. Boil the water, turn off the heat, add the leaves and let sit for about 5 minutes or so.
The tea can be enjoyed by non-diabetics who simply want another source of zinc and magnesium. It can be used around meal time to assist with maintaining lower blood sugar levels. In more drastic situations where there is no access to medical supplies, a decoction might be called for.
A decoction can be made to increase the potency by actually boiling the leaves in water for 8-10 minutes. You can also use the small twigs, berries and roots from the Crepe Myrtle to do this. Then strain it.
Keep in mind that there really isn’t a good way to tell an appropriate dosage. You don’t know exactly how strong your brew is and how it affect your sugar level. Use your own best judgement and take it slow.
A little bit of a warning: I have heard the berries may cause hallucinations and I have also heard they are harmless. Do your own research and use caution… My favourite quote is from our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln… “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet, they could be lying to you.”
Here are a few other web sites that have some additional information on Banaba, or Crepe Myrtle.