Corosolic acid is a supplement derived from the leaves of the banaba plant.
It’s been used in holistic therapies for many years, but has recently made a name for itself in the supplement industry.
Some say it can be used to treat a long list of conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer, and can even help you lose weight.
Others say it’s yet another unproven gimmick that’s not worth a plugged nickel.
In a nutshell, many of the purported benefits of corosolic acid are overblown. That said, there’s good evidence it’ll help you recover faster after an intense workout.
In this article, you’ll learn what corosolic acid is and what it really will and won’t do for your health and fitness.
Table of Contents
Corosolic acid is a naturally occuring substance primarily found in the leaves of the banaba plant.
Banaba, or Lagerstroemia speciosa, is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia that has long been used in folk medicine to treat numerous health conditions, most notably diabetes.
More recently, corosolic acid has made waves in the fitness space due to claims it may improve your post-workout recovery, boost your body’s ability to absorb amino acids, and even help you lose weight.
You don't need supplements to build muscle, lose fat, and get healthy. But the right ones can help. Take this quiz to learn which ones are best for you.
Find the Perfect Supplements for You in Just 60 Seconds
You don't need supplements to build muscle, lose fat, and get healthy. But the right ones can help. Take this quiz to learn which ones are best for you.Take the Quiz
If you poke around online, the main claims you’ll hear regarding corosolic acid are that it can . . .
- Decrease triglycerides and LDL, or “bad” cholesterol
- Decrease blood pressure
- Increase weight loss, when combined with proper diet and exercise
- Reduce symptoms of diabetes, such as thirst, drowsiness, and hunger
- Reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome, like obesity and insulin resistance
- Act as an anti-inflammatory
- Treat cancerous tumors
- Treat colon cancer
- Treat bone diseases, such as osteoporosis and periodontitis
The problem with these studies, though, is they almost always tested corosolic acid alongside other molecules. That is, the corosolic acid was just one of many supplements that the participants took as part of each study, so it’s impossible to say how much the results were due to corosolic acid.
What’s more, much of the research on corosolic acid was done on animals, so we can’t assume humans would experience the same benefits.
“What and what,” you might be wondering?
Put simply, corosolic acid helps your body to control the level of sugar in your blood by enabling insulin to transport glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids into your liver, body fat, and muscles more efficiently.
For example, in a study conducted by researchers at Kyoto University, 31 participants were randomly given either a capsule containing 10 mg of corosolic acid or a placebo 5 minutes before they drank 75 grams of a syrupy glucose drink designed to spike their blood sugar levels.
Of the participants, 19 had diabetes, 8 had symptoms often associated with diabetes, and 4 had normal glucose tolerance.
The results showed that about one to two hours after drinking the glucose drink, the participants who took corosolic acid had markedly lower blood sugar levels than the participants who took the placebo.
This, the researchers believed, was because the corosolic acid supplement helped control the participants’ blood glucose levels, even when they had health conditions that made it difficult for their bodies to do so naturally.
That’s all well and good, but can corosolic acid also help healthy people?
As a general rule, you want to be insulin sensitive. This means that your body only needs to release a small amount of insulin to move nutrients from your bloodstream (like glucose) into other tissues. It also needs to be able to produce this insulin quickly and get rid of it once the job is done. This prevents high blood sugar levels from damaging nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues, and generally improves your body composition.
If you’re a lean, healthy, active person, your body does all of this on its own.
That said, some research shows that corosolic acid may be able to enhance your body’s ability to remove nutrients from the blood, and that this may improve post-workout recovery.
There are two reasons for this:
1. Your muscles’ primary source of fuel during exercise is a form of stored carbohydrate known as glycogen.
When we exercise, we deplete the glycogen that’s stored in our muscles and liver. If we don’t replace it, our performance in the gym suffers.
Being able to efficiently absorb glucose when our stores are drained not only ensures we’ve always got the energy to perform at our best, it keeps cortisol levels low and testosterone levels high, improves post-workout genetic signaling related to muscle growth and repair, and helps us avoid becoming overtrained.
2. Once the protein we eat is broken into amino acids, insulin helps transport them into our muscle cells where they can be used to build new muscle tissue.
The more efficiently your body can digest, absorb, and incorporate amino acids into your muscle cells, the sooner it can synthesize new muscle tissue (make your muscles bigger and stronger).
There’s some evidence that corosolic acid could help with both of these processes, thus helping you recover faster from workouts.
It’s worth noting that if you’re a healthy, active person eating a balanced diet with plenty of carbs and protein, you probably won’t notice a huge benefit from taking corosolic acid. And if you aren’t doing these things—you aren’t following a good training program, eating a healthy diet, sleeping enough, and so forth—you’re unlikely to notice any benefits.
In other words, if you’re doing everything “right,” taking corosolic acid along with a handful of other supplements may slightly boost your workout recovery, but just remember that it’s still a very small piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting fit.
Find the Best Diet for You in Just 60 Seconds
How many calories should you eat? What about "macros?" What foods should you eat? Take our 60-second quiz to get science-based answers to these questions and more.Take the Quiz
There are no known side effects associated with supplementing with corosolic acid.
The clinically effective dose of a supplement is the dosage of that supplement used in well-executed, peer-reviewed scientific studies that have proven to be beneficial.
When it comes to improving insulin sensitivity, the clinically effective dose of corosolic acid is 10 mg per day.
Given corosolic acid’s ability to lower blood sugar levels, some people fear that supplementing with it when you aren’t diabetic might give them low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
If you exercise regularly and want to do everything you can to recover faster from your workouts, taking corosolic acid will likely help.
Don’t expect miracles, though—when taken alone, the effects of corosolic acid are fairly minor.
Despite being marketed as a weight loss aid, only two studies have shown people lose weight while supplementing with corosolic acid, and there’s reason to look askance at the results.
In one study, the participants were also encouraged to start eating a nutritious diet and begin an exercise program at the same time they started taking corosolic acid. In the other, the participants took several other supplements in addition to corosolic acid.
Thus, in both cases, it’s possible that changes in diet, exercise, or other supplements helped the participants lose weight more than corosolic acid.
Corosolic acid is also marketed as an appetite suppressant, but the rationale for this is also dubious.
Marketers claim that if corosolic acid helps you maintain a steady blood sugar . . . you should have fewer dips in energy . . . which should lead to fewer hunger pangs . . . which should help you eat fewer high-carb, high-sugar snacks . . . which should help you lose weight.
Which is all a bit of a stretch.
In reality, no studies have shown that corosolic acid helps reduce appetite. What’s more, the theoretical argument backing this claim—that low blood sugar leads to cravings which leads to overeating and weight gain—is still largely unproven.
Some Nutritionists Charge Hundreds of Dollars for This Diet "Hack" . . .
. . . and it's yours for free. Take our 60-second quiz and learn exactly how many calories you should eat, what your "macros" should be, what foods are best for you, and more.Take the Quiz
As you now know, supplementing with corosolic acid could help you recover from your workouts slightly faster, though its effects are pretty mediocre when taken by itself.
That’s why it’s best to take corosolic acid in a supplement that contains other ingredients that are proven to help you perform better in the gym, recover faster, and gain more muscle and strength, like Recharge.
Recharge is a 100% natural post-workout drink that boosts muscle growth, improves recovery, and reduces soreness.
It contains 10.5 mg of corosolic acid per serving, along with clinically effective doses of two other ingredients designed to boost muscle growth, improve recovery, and reduce muscle soreness, including . . .
- Micronized creatine monohydrate, which research shows boosts muscle and strength gain, improves anaerobic endurance, reduces muscle damage and soreness from exercise, and increases the amount of glycogen your muscles can store.
- L-carnitine L-tartrate, which research shows reduces exercise-induced muscle damage and soreness, improves muscle repair, and improves insulin sensitivity.
So, if you want to be able to push harder in the gym, recover better, and gain muscle and strength faster, try Recharge today.
+ Scientific References
- Galloway, S. D. R., Craig, T. P., & Cleland, S. J. (2011). Effects of oral l-carnitine supplementation on insulin sensitivity indices in response to glucose feeding in lean and overweight/obese males. Amino Acids, 41(2), 507–515. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-010-0770-5
- Ho, J. Y., Kraemer, W. J., Volek, J. S., Fragala, M. S., Thomas, G. A., Dunn-Lewis, C., Coday, M., Häkkinen, K., & Maresh, C. M. (2010). L-Carnitine l-tartrate supplementation favorably affects biochemical markers of recovery from physical exertion in middle-aged men and women. Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, 59(8), 1190–1199. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.metabol.2009.11.012
- Kraemer, W. J., Volek, J. S., French, D. N., Rubin, M. R., Sharman, M. J., Gómez, A. L., Ratamess, N. A., Newton, R. U., Jemiolo, B., Craig, B. W., & Häkkinen, K. (2003). The effects of L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation on hormonal responses to resistance exercise and recovery. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 17(3), 455–462. https://doi.org/10.1519/1533-4287(2003)017<0455:TEOLLS>2.0.CO;2
- Nelson, A. G., Arnall, D. A., Kokkonen, J., Day, R., & Evans, J. (2001). Muscle glycogen supercompensation is enhanced by prior creatine supplementation. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 33(7), 1096–1100. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-200107000-00005
- Bassit, R. A., Pinheiro, C. H. D. J., Vitzel, K. F., Sproesser, A. J., Silveira, L. R., & Curi, R. (2010). Effect of short-term creatine supplementation on markers of skeletal muscle damage after strenuous contractile activity. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 108(5), 945–955. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-009-1305-1
- Eckerson, J. M., Stout, J. R., Moore, G. A., Stone, N. J., Iwan, K. A., Gebauer, A. N., & Ginsberg, R. (2005). Effect of creatine phosphate supplementation on anaerobic working capacity and body weight after two and six days of loading in men and women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 19(4), 756–763. https://doi.org/10.1519/R-16924.1
- Branch, J. D. (2003). Effect of creatine supplementation on body composition and performance: A meta-analysis. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 13(2), 198–226. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.13.2.198
- Lieberman, S., Spahrs, R., Stanton, A., Martinez, L., & Grinder, M. (2005). Weight Loss, Body Measurements, and Compliance: A 12 Week Total Lifestyle Intervention Pilot Study. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 11(6), 307–313. https://doi.org/10.1089/act.2005.11.307
- Stohs, S. J., Miller, H., & Kaats, G. R. (2012). A review of the efficacy and safety of banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa L.) and corosolic acid. Phytotherapy Research, 26(3), 317–324. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.3664
- Miura, T., Takagi, S., & Ishida, T. (2012). Management of Diabetes and Its Complications with Banaba ( Lagerstroemia speciosa L.) and Corosolic Acid . Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/871495
- Hattori, K., Sukenobu, N., Sasaki, T., Takasuga, S., Hayashi, T., Kasai, R., Yamasaki, K., & Hazeki, O. (2003). Activation of insulin receptors by lagerstroemin. Journal of Pharmacological Sciences, 93(1), 69–73. https://doi.org/10.1254/jphs.93.69
- Snyder, A. C. (1998). Overtraining and glycogen depletion hypothesis. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 30(7), 1146–1150. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-199807000-00020
- Creer, A., Gallagher, P., Slivka, D., Jemiolo, B., Fink, W., & Trappe, S. (2005). Influence of muscle glycogen availability on ERK1/2 and Akt signaling after resistance exercise in human skeletal muscle. Journal of Applied Physiology, 99(3), 950–956. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00110.2005
- Lane, A. R., Duke, J. W., & Hackney, A. C. (2010). Influence of dietary carbohydrate intake on the free testosterone: Cortisol ratio responses to short-term intensive exercise training. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 108(6), 1125–1131. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-009-1220-5
- Robertson, R. P., Harmon, J., Tran, P. O., Tanaka, Y., & Takahashi, H. (2003). Glucose toxicity in β-cells: Type 2 diabetes, good radicals gone bad, and the glutathione connection. In Diabetes (Vol. 52, Issue 3, pp. 581–587). American Diabetes Association. https://doi.org/10.2337/diabetes.52.3.581
- Tsuchibe, S., Kataumi, S., Mori, M., & Mori, H. (2006). An inhibitory effect on the increase in the postprandial blood glucose by Banaba extract capsule enriched corosolic acid. Journal for the Integrated Study of Dietary Habits, 17(3), 255–259. https://doi.org/10.2740/jisdh.17.255
- Judy, W. V., Hari, S. P., Stogsdill, W. W., Judy, J. S., Naguib, Y. M. A., & Passwater, R. (2003). Antidiabetic activity of a standardized extract (GlucosolTM) from Lagerstroemia speciosa leaves in Type II diabetics: A dose-dependence study. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 87(1), 115–117. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-8741(03)00122-3
- Fukushima, M., Matsuyama, F., Ueda, N., Egawa, K., Takemoto, J., Kajimoto, Y., Yonaha, N., Miura, T., Kaneko, T., Nishi, Y., Mitsui, R., Fujita, Y., Yamada, Y., & Seino, Y. (2006). Effect of corosolic acid on postchallenge plasma glucose levels. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 73(2), 174–177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.diabres.2006.01.010
- Shi, L., Zhang, W., Zhou, Y. Y., Zhang, Y. N., Li, J. Y., Hu, L. H., & Li, J. (2008). Corosolic acid stimulates glucose uptake via enhancing insulin receptor phosphorylation. European Journal of Pharmacology, 584(1), 21–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2008.01.020
- Murakami, C., Myoga, K., Kasai, R., Ohtan, K., Kurokawa, T., Ishibashi, S., Yamasaki, K., Dayrit, F., & Padolina, W. G. (1993). Screening of Plant Constituents for Effect on Glucose Transport Activity in Ehrlich Ascites Tumour Cells. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 41(12), 2129–2131. https://doi.org/10.1248/cpb.41.2129
- Shim, K. S., Lee, S. U., Ryu, S. Y., Min, Y. K., & Kim, S. H. (2009). Corosolic acid stimulates osteoblast differentiation by activating transcription factors and MAP kinases. Phytotherapy Research, 23(12), 1754–1758. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.2843
- Sung, B., Kang, Y. J., Kim, D. H., Hwang, S. Y., Lee, Y., Kim, M., Yoon, J. H., Kim, C. M., Chung, H. Y., & Kim, N. D. (2014). Corosolic acid induces apoptotic cell death in HCT116 human colon cancer cells through a caspase-dependent pathway. International Journal of Molecular Medicine, 33(4), 943–949. https://doi.org/10.3892/ijmm.2014.1639
- Cho, J., Tremmel, L., Rho, O., Camelio, A. M., Siegel, D., Slaga, T. J., & DiGiovanni, J. (2015). Evaluation of pentacyclic triterpenes found in Perilla frutescens for inhibition of skin tumor promotion by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate. Oncotarget, 6(36), 39292–39306. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.5751
- Aguirre, M. C., Delporte, C., Backhouse, N., Erazo, S., Letelier, M. E., Cassels, B. K., Silva, X., Alegría, S., & Negrete, R. (2006). Topical anti-inflammatory activity of 2α-hydroxy pentacyclic triterpene acids from the leaves of Ugni molinae. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, 14(16), 5673–5677. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bmc.2006.04.021
- Yamada, K., Hosokawa, M., Fujimoto, S., Fujiwara, H., Fujita, Y., Harada, N., Yamada, C., Fukushima, M., Ueda, N., Kaneko, T., Matsuyama, F., Yamada, Y., Seino, Y., & Inagaki, N. (2008). Effect of corosolic acid on gluconeogenesis in rat liver. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 80(1), 48–55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.diabres.2007.11.011
- Yamaguchi, Y., Yamada, K., Yoshikawa, N., Nakamura, K., Haginaka, J., & Kunitomo, M. (2006). Corosolic acid prevents oxidative stress, inflammation and hypertension in SHR/NDmcr-cp rats, a model of metabolic syndrome. Life Sciences, 79(26), 2474–2479. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2006.08.007
- Takagi, S., Miura, T., Ishihara, E., Ishida, T., & Chinzei, Y. (2010). Effect of corosolic acid on dietary hypercholesterolemia and hepatic steatosis in KK-Ay diabetic mice. Biomedical Research, 31(4), 213–218. https://doi.org/10.2220/biomedres.31.213
- Sivakumar, G., Vail, D. R., Nair, V., Medina-Bolivar, F., & Lay, J. O. (2009). Plant-based corosolic acid: Future anti-diabetic drug? In Biotechnology Journal (Vol. 4, Issue 12, pp. 1704–1711). Biotechnol J. https://doi.org/10.1002/biot.200900207