You have probably heard of Guava. It is a tropical fruit grown throughout the world. However, have you heard about its leaves and its health benefits? The young leaves of the guava evergreen tree have been used in traditional medicine in tropical countries for a variety of health conditions, with the leaves being even more beneficial than the fruit. In fact, according to research published in the Journal of Food and Chemistry in 2007, the antioxidant properties of guava leaf extracts may be even greater than those of dried guava fruit.
People in Asian countries steep guava leaves in boiling water and drink the extract as a folk remedy for diabetes. These leaves contain many beneficial substances, including powerful antioxidants like vitamin C and flavonoids such as quercetin. It also contains a number of other phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, carotenoids (especially lycopene), essential oils, fatty acids, flavonoids, phenols, lectins, tannins, saponins and triterpenes, and vitamins.
Drinking a tea made by infusing guava leaves in boiling water may be helpful in treating diarrhoea, cold and flu, lowering cholesterol, preventing diabetes, and it even exhibits anti-cancer properties. Herbalists around the world use this tea to treat everything from diabetes and digestive problems to toothaches, acne, wrinkles, cough, inflammation, arthritis, gout, and also to prevent hair loss. Traditional medicine recommends drinking a cup of guava leaf tea daily to develop protection against common colds and the flu.
Regular drinking of Guava Leaf Tea with every meal helps pre-diabetic and diabetic patients.
Japan has approved guava leaf tea for specified health uses to aid in the treatment and prevention of diabetes.
In fact, Japan has conducted several clinical trials that support guava tea’s anti-diabetic properties; drinking the tea frequently helped lower blood glucose (after-eating) in patients with Type 2 diabetes.
Components in the tea hinder the absorption of two types of sugars, maltose, and sucrose, thus helping to control blood sugar levels after eating. Two studies were performed to explain the effects (both published in Nutrition & Metabolism).
In the first study, the patients drank guava leaf tea after eating white rice and showed decreases in blood sugar levels that were greater after 30 minutes, 90 minutes and 120 minutes. The same study participants then drank only hot water after eating white rice again and showed no benefits.
Another second and longer study was conducted on patients diagnosed with pre-diabetes or mild diabetes Type 2. Their regular intake of guava leaf tea for the period of 12 weeks resulted in lower fasting blood-sugar levels than before they began drinking the tea.
Furthermore, a study published in the November 2008 issue of the journal Phytotherapy Research examined the impacts of guava leaf extracts in mice with type 2 diabetes and discovered that the intake of guava leaf extracts resulted in a significant decrease in blood sugar levels. Another study from Taiwan conducted on rodents reported that the intake of guava leaves results in the alleviation of hypoglycaemia in diabetes, thus recommending it as a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of diabetes-associated hypoglycemia.
2. Cancer Support
Guava Leaf extracts, but also leaf oil, the seeds, and whole plant extracts have been evaluated for possible chemotherapeutic utilisation. It displays activity against different human cancer cell lines including colon, prostate, and epidermal cancers, but also melanoma and leukaemia. Specifically, guava leaves are able to inhibit different human carcinoma cell lines.
The leaves are quite high in two compounds; the powerful antioxidant lycopene and flavonoid quercetin. Numerous studies have shown that lycopene plays an important role in lowering the potential risk of cancer. Quercetin has anti-cancer properties as well. Guava leaves, in fact, may lower the risk of cancer; particularly breast, prostate and oral cancer.
In 2010, a human study was carried out by a group of medical scientist to discover the possible health benefits of guava on prostate cancer. The results of the research presented evidence that the size of a tumour can in fact be decreased from taking the guava extract.
In addition, a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2012 confirmed the Anticancer Activity in Human Prostate Cancer Cells.
Another more recent study conducted in 2016 demonstrates that guava leaf extracts play a substantial role in fighting cancer, thus once again, confirming its anti-cancer properties.
3. Anti-Viral and Anti-Bacterial
Guava leaf tea presents strong anti-bacterial activities, which has been confirmed in several studies. Traditional medicine has used dried leaves to treat viral infections such as the common cold and flu, and it also helps with a critical condition such as Dengue Virus Infection.
Research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 1999 proclaimed that extracts of dried guava leaves effectively restrained the growth of Staphylococcus aureus (Staph A.) which is a common cause of skin infections, respiratory diseases, and food poisoning. Actually, 90% of eczema victims are carrying Staph A on their skin.
Another study, this time from India, from 2008, came to a similar conclusion – ”Guava leaf extract appears efficient and safe in inhibiting multidrug resistant Staphylococcus aureus.”
A Paediatric research paper from 2010 demonstrated that guava leaf extract might be used to treat dengue fever because it has an effect of increasing the thrombocyte and platelet level in blood serum. This makes guava leaves an efficient alternative home remedy to help with dengue fever.
Guava has also been used to control epidemics such as cholera. The International Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, in Bangladesh 2010 came to the conclusion that “Guava leaf and bark exhibit antibacterial activity against multi-drug resistance Vibrio cholera.”
4. Cardiovascular Effects
According to a few studies and laboratory research, Guava leaf tea may benefit your whole cardiovascular system, as it helps lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while keeping the good cholesterol in balance. Composites in the leaves may contribute to reducing blood pressure and heart rate, according to an article published in 2005 in Methods and Findings in Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology. In this study is was found that lab animals with high blood pressure when fed guava leaf extract had reduced heart rates and blood pressure.
Regular drinking of guava leaf tea might also improve your blood lipids. Several small clinical studies reviewed in a 2010 paper in Nutrition and Metabolism say that guava leaf extracts may improve blood cholesterol and unhealthy triglycerides in human subjects. Study participants who drank guava leaf tea had lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein levels, and triglycerides after 8 weeks and their levels of beneficial HDL were not affected. Other experimental studies came to similar conclusions.
In addition, Guava leaves could be useful for managing gout and hypertension and attenuating the oxidative stress associated with both diseases (mentioned in J Intercult Ethnopharmacol. 2016).
Furthermore, the tea leaves hinder an enzyme responsible for the onset of atherogenesis (fatty deposits and degeneration of arteries). This ailment can lead to various cardiovascular problems.
5. Menstrual Pain
Guava relieves pain in general, but it is particularly useful in dysmenorrhea, which is pain during menstruation, painful periods, or menstrual cramps. There was a larger study in Mexico in 2007 which shows a significant reduction in menstrual pain compared to ibuprofen.
”A double-blinded randomized clinical trial was conducted in 197 women with primary dysmenorrhea. Four intervention groups were defined: two extract doses (3 and 6 mg/day); ibuprofen (1200 mg/day); placebo (3mg/day). Participants were followed-up individually for 4 months. At a dose of 6 mg/day, the standardised guava leaf extract reduced menstrual pain significantly compared with conventional treatment and placebo.”
6. Intestinal Benefits and Diarrhoea
Guava leaves are commonly used as an anti-diarrhoeal remedy globally. They contain specific compounds which have a natural antibiotic activity that help kill certain types of pathogens. In fact, Guava leaf tea may help to inhibit a variety of diarrhoea-causing bacteria. People with diarrhoea who drink this type of tea may experience stool improvements, less abdominal pain, less watery stools and experience a faster recovery.
A common cause of diarrhoea is bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. Research published in the Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo in 2008 found that guava leaf extract hindered the growth of this bacteria. Several other studies and trials confirm this conclusion, as mentioned earlier.
Another study presented that this amazing leaf has the potential for use in the treatment of infectious diarrhoea. The study was conducted on mice with a common mouse pathogen – Citrobacter rodentium, which is similar to human E. coli. The mice in the test group treated with leaf extract showed quicker clearance of infection when compared with the control group. (from J Ayurveda Integr Med., 2015, animal study).
In addition, another study states that Guava leaves are an effective anti-diarrhoeal agent and exhibit anti-Cholera activity (BMC Complement Altern Med., 2010).
7. Topically – Hair Loss, Skin Health, Oral Care
The American Journal of Chinese Medicine published research which showed that guava leaves are helpful against specific bacteria-causing acne. The leaves also alleviate itching. In addition, they are beneficial in enhancing the quality of the skin such as wrinkles. Another study on guava leaves use for skin problems includes for the treatment of blemishes such as dark and red spots on your face. And as mentioned earlier, it is even helpful in conditions like eczema.
Herbalists around the world recommend the use of guava leaves paste to maintain good oral hygiene. It exhibits anti-plaque properties and is effective in preventing and healing oral problems. Guava leaf tea works as a wonderful home remedy for a toothache, swollen gums, and also oral ulcers. You can grind the leaves into a paste and apply it to your teeth and gums to treat these problems.
Guava leaves are a popular natural remedy for Hair Loss. In fact, Guava leaves have taken the internet by storm with claims of it being a wonder remedy for hair loss. It is also gaining popularity as a hair thickening component that supports fast hair growth. There are no studies to back this up, so you can try it and see for yourself. Due to the potent compounds and vitamins in the guava leaves, I am quite sure your scalp can only benefit from this hair mask.
8. Anti-Inflammatory and Arthritis
Guava leaf extract has potent anti-inflammatory properties thanks to its high flavonoid content, especially quercetin. Inflammation is at the core of most illnesses, particularly chronic diseases. In fact, Guava leaves are full of analgesic and anti-inflammatory attributes that have been shown to alleviate arthritis pain. Some folk medicine recipes advise to crush fresh guava leaves into a paste and apply to swelling joints to reduce inflammation. Several published papers came to the same conclusion – that guava leaf extract is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that helps with arthritis and gout.
A scientific study concluded that guava leaf extract contains potential therapeutic agents, which regulate NF-κB* activation for the treatment of inflammatory conditions (from In Vitro Study, Fish Shellfish Immunol., 2015).
*Note – NF-κB is a protein complex that regulates the transcription of DNA, cytokine creation, and cell survival. The incorrect regulation of NF-κB has been linked to inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, cancer and abnormal immunity function. Thus, its correct regulation is vital for your health.
Tips, How to Take, Recipe
Dried loose guava leaves, ready-made tea bags, tinctures and extracts are available at health-food stores or online. Also, you can buy fresh guava leaves at specialty food stores. Making the tea is simple; just steep the leaves in hot water for about 10 minutes and enjoy it up to three times daily. Start with 3-6 leaves.
When using for atopic dermatitis, you should use dried guava leaves. Crush them and mix with a container of water. This solution relieves redness and itching.
In other skin problems, boil some crushed guava leaves. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the water turns brownish and becomes concentrated. Strain the extract and let it cool. Then, apply this solution onto the afflicted area with a cotton ball.
For your hair, gently massage the solution (not warm) into your scalp for at least 10 minutes and make sure that you cover all your hair with it.
For oral issues, make a paste from guava leaves (by grinding the fresh leaves) and apply it to your teeth and gums.
Safety, Side Effects
Guava leaf tea is generally safe and without significant side effects. An allergic reaction is however possible, but rare. Large amounts are not good and may cause mild constipation in some people, and its safety is unknown during pregnancy or breastfeeding. The tea might also interact with some medications, especially for diabetes or anti-diarrhoea pills.
When you add this herbal supplement to your diet in any way, start small and monitor your body’s response. As always, consult a medical professional or qualified herbalist before adding any powerful new components like this to your herbal regimen. In fact, it is always best to work with a natural medicine practitioner who is well-educated on using herbal medicine. It is especially important if you have any medical condition, if you are taking any medications, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding; and if you plan to start giving herbs to your children.
Guava leaf tea is a great addition to your herbal regimen. It is especially useful if you suffer from menstrual pain, diabetes or as an anti-diarrhoea support. Also, you might want to enjoy a cup daily to boost your immune system and protect yourself against common colds and flu. Due to its high quercetin content which is a natural antihistamine, it is even useful for allergies and bronchitis. Guava leaves have shown some hepatoprotective activity as well, meaning they are beneficial for your liver. It may even help with your sleep, say some natural doctors. Personally, I do not drink guava leaf tea on a daily basis, but I enjoy it from time-to-time.