The Benefits of White Mulberry

Morus alba (White mulberry) leaves and red fruit
Morus alba (White mulberry) leaves and red fruit. Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

White mulberry is a plant used in herbal medicine. Most commonly sourced from the leaves, fruit, or bark of the plant, white mulberry extract is said to offer a number of health benefits. For example, use of dietary supplements containing white mulberry is purported to aid in diabetes control.

White mulberry contains a variety of compounds thought to influence health. The fruit of the white mulberry plant, for instance, appears to be rich in anthocyanins (a class of substances with antioxidant effects).

 

Uses for White Mulberry

Long used in traditional Chinese medicine (a form of alternative medicine that originated in China), white mulberry is often touted as a natural treatment for the following health problems:

In addition, white mulberry is said, in alternative medicine, to alleviate pain in the joints and muscles, boost the immune system, promote hair growth, and protect against premature graying of the hair. 

Benefits of White Mulberry

Although there's currently a lack of clinical trials testing the health effects of white mulberry, some preliminary studies show that white mulberry may provide certain health benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available research on white mulberry:

1)  Diabetes

Several animal-based studies indicate that white mulberry may help fight diabetes.

These studies include a report published in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine in 2013, in which tests on diabetic rats revealed that treatment with white mulberry anthocyanins helped lower the animals' blood sugar levels.

2)  High Cholesterol

There's some evidence that white mulberry may help keep cholesterol in check and aid in the prevention of atherosclerosis.

For instance, a rat-based study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine in 2011 determined that treatment with white mulberry extract helped improve cholesterol levels in animals fed a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet. White mulberry extract also helped lower the animals' blood pressure.

Additionally, a mouse-based study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2005 found that quercetin in white mulberry leaves helped inhibit the growth of atherosclerosis-associated plaques.

3)  Anxiety 

White mulberry leaf extract may possess anti-anxiety properties, suggests an animal-based study published in Indian Journal of Pharmacology in 2008. In the study, tests on mice demonstrated that white mulberry leaf extract may have sedative effects.

Caveats

Due to a lack of scientific studies testing the effects of white mulberry extract in humans, little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use of white mulberry or how it might interact with various medications. However, since white mulberry appear to lower blood sugar levels, it's important for people taking diabetes medication to consult their physicians prior to using white mulberry.

Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements here.

Alternatives to White Mulberry

Several other remedies show promise as a natural means of regulating your blood sugar and lowering your cholesterol. These remedies include cinnamon, glucomannan, and acacia fiber. However, it should be noted that using any type of dietary supplement as a substitute for standard care in the treatment of conditions like diabetes and high cholesterol may have serious health consequences.

In addition, a wide range of natural substances also contain anthocyanins (one of the compounds thought to contribute to white mulberry's potentially health-enhancing effects). To get your fill of anthocyanins, consider increasing your intake of acai, cranberry, elderberry, and/or tart cherries.

Where to Find It

Many natural-foods stores and other stores specializing in dietary supplements sell white mulberry extract. White mulberry supplements can also be purchased online.

Using White Mulberry for Health

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend white mulberry as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using it, make sure to consult your primary care provider first.

Sources

Bharani SE, Asad M, Dhamanigi SS, Chandrakala GK. "Immunomodulatory activity of methanolic extract of Morus alba Linn. (mulberry) leaves." Pak J Pharm Sci. 2010 Jan;23(1):63-8.

El-Sayyad HI, El-Sherbiny MA, Sobh MA, Abou-El-Naga AM, Ibrahim MA, Mousa SA. "Protective effects of Morus alba leaves extract on ocular functions of pups from diabetic and hypercholesterolemic mother rats." Int J Biol Sci. 2011;7(6):715-28.

Enkhmaa B, Shiwaku K, Katsube T, Kitajima K, Anuurad E, Yamasaki M, Yamane Y. "Mulberry (Morus alba L.) leaves and their major flavonol quercetin 3-(6-malonylglucoside) attenuate atherosclerotic lesion development in LDL receptor-deficient mice." J Nutr. 2005 Apr;135(4):729-34.

Lee YJ, Choi DH, Kim EJ, Kim HY, Kwon TO, Kang DG, Lee HS. "Hypotensive, hypolipidemic, and vascular protective effects of Morus alba L. in rats fed an atherogenic diet." Am J Chin Med. 2011;39(1):39-52.

Sarikaphuti A, Nararatwanchai T, Hashiguchi T, Ito T, Thaworanunta S, Kikuchi K, Oyama Y, Maruyama I, Tancharoen S. "Preventive effects of Morus alba L. anthocyanins on diabetes in Zucker diabetic fatty rats." Exp Ther Med. 2013 Sep;6(3):689-695.

Singab AN, El-Beshbishy HA, Yonekawa M, Nomura T, Fukai T. "Hypoglycemic effect of Egyptian Morus alba root bark extract: effect on diabetes and lipid peroxidation of streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats." J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Sep 14;100(3):333-8.

Yadav AV, Kawale LA, Nade VS. "Effect of Morus alba L. (mulberry) leaves on anxiety in mice." Indian J Pharmacol. 2008 Jan;40(1):32-6.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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