Mulberry leaf extract, plant, morus alba
Feb 19 2014 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Mulberry leaves are thin, glossy, and light green in color. The shape of the mulberry leaf can be quite variable even on the same tree. Some leaves have 5 lobes while others have one lobe, two lobes, three lobes, or no lobes at all. The mulberry plant has been highly regarded in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine. It may possess blood sugar lowering effects in animal studies. Preliminary human studies have confirmed its benefits in both preventing and treating type 2 diabetes.
   Mulberries are one of my favorite berries. Sometimes I eat dried mulberries as a snack. For more information about fruits.

Mulberry benefit
In vitro studies suggest that extracts of black, green, and mulberry tea leaves could interfere with carbohydrate  absorption via their ability to inhibit {alpha}-amylase, {alpha}-glucosidase, and sodium-glucose transporters. Mulberry tea or mulberry extract may be a healthy addition to one's diet when used occasionally. More studies are needed to determine the long term benefit and side effects of mulberry extract supplements. See diabetes for a full range of natural options to treat this condition.

Food Chem Toxicol. March 2014. Antihyperlipidemic effects of stilbenoids isolated from Morus alba in rats fed a high-cholesterol diet.

What's in mulberry leaf?
Mulberry leaf has a substance called moranoline (1-deoxynojirimycin) that inhibits an enzyme in the intestinal tract (alpha-glucosidase) involved in the digestion of carbohydrates. Moranoline holds back complex carbohydrates, starches, maltose and sucrose from breaking down into glucose.
   Anthocyanins contribute to the red or dark purple color of mulberry fruits. Anthocyanins provide antioxidant activity, cardiovascular protection, antiviral activity as health benefits. Mulberries are also a source of resveratrol, which functions as an antioxidant.

How is it sold?
Mulberry leaf extract is available in various extract concentrates, including a 30:1 concentrate standardized to contain 2% moranoline content.

Mulberry leaf dosage
Much more research needs to be done to determine the right dosage of mulberry leaf. The suggested dosage is 100 mg of the 30 to 1 extract two times daily.

Mulberry leaf side effects
Not enough research has been done to determine the mulberry leaf side effect profile.

Mulberry research
An extract of black, green, and mulberry teas causes malabsorption of carbohydrate but not of triacylglycerol in healthy volunteers.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2006
From NatureGen Inc, San Diego, CA, and VAMC, Minneapolis, MN
We measured breath hydrogen and 13CO2 to investigate the ability of an extract of black, green, and mulberry tea leaves to induce malabsorption of carbohydrate and triacylglycerol in healthy volunteers. Design: In a crossover design, healthy adult volunteers randomly ingested test meals with a placebo beverage or a preparation containing an extract of black (0.1 g), green (0.1 g), and mulberry (1.0 g) teas. One test meal contained 50 g carbohydrate as white rice, 10 g butter, and 0.2 g triolein, and the beverages contained 10 g sucrose. The calorie content of the second test meal consisted entirely of lipid (30 g olive oil and 0.2 g triolein). With the carbohydrate-containing meal, the mulberry tea extract resulted in a highly significant increase in breath-hydrogen concentrations, which indicated appreciable carbohydrate malabsorption. A comparison of hydrogen excretion after the carbohydrate-containing meal with that after the nonabsorbable disaccharide lactulose suggested that the mulberry tea extract induced malabsorption of 25% of the carbohydrate. The tea extract did not cause triacylglycerol malabsorption or any significant increase in symptoms.

Effects of dietary mulberry, Korean red ginseng, and banaba on glucose homeostasis in relation to PPAR-alpha, PPAR-gamma, and LPL mRNA expressions.
Life Sci. 2005.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of traditional anti-diabetic herbs on the progress of diabetes in db/db mice, a typical non-insulin-dependent model. Five different experimental diets were as follows: control diet, 0.5% mulberry leaf water extract diet, 0.5% Korean red ginseng diet, 0.5% banaba leaf water extract diet, and 0.5% combination diet (mulberry leaf water extract/Korean red ginseng/banaba leaf water extract, 1:1:1). Blood levels of glucose, insulin, HbA1c, and triglyceride were measured every 2 weeks. At 12 weeks of age, animals were sacrificed, and tissue mRNA levels of PPAR-alpha, PPAR-gamma, and LPL were determined. Results indicated that mulberry leaf water extract, Korean red ginseng, banaba leaf water extract, and the combination of above herbs effectively reduced blood glucose, insulin, TG, and percent HbA1c in study animals). We also observed that the increased expressions of liver PPAR-alpha mRNA and adipose tissue PPAR-gamma mRNA in animals fed diets supplemented with test herbs. The expression of liver LPL mRNA was also increased with experimental diets containing herbs. The efficacy was highest in animals fed the combination diet for all of the markers used. These results suggest that mulberry leaf water extract, Korean red ginseng, banaba leaf water extract, and the combination of these herbs fed at the level of 0.5% of the diet significantly increase insulin sensitivity, and improve hyperglycemia possibly through regulating PPAR-mediated lipid metabolism.

Mulberry anthocyanins, cyanidin 3-rutinoside and cyanidin 3-glucoside, exhibited an inhibitory effect on the migration and invasion of a human lung cancer cell line.
Cancer Lett. 2005.
Anthocyanins, present in various fruits and vegetables as natural colorant, have been well characterized to be involved in various bioactive properties and are wildly used for their antioxidant properties. Furthermore, recent studies have revealed pleiotropic anticancer and antiproliferative capabilities of anthocyanin. Berry extract contains high amounts of anthocyanins and is commonly used in diet or in some therapeutic applications. In this study, we first observed that cyanidin 3-rutinoside and cyanidin 3-glucoside extracted from Morus alba exerted a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on the migration and invasion, of highly metastatic A549 human lung carcinoma cells in absence of cytotoxicity. These result suggested that anthocyanins from mulberry could decrease the in vitro invasiveness of cancer cells and therefore, may be of great value in developing a potential cancer therapy.

Hypoglycemic effect of Egyptian Morus alba root bark extract: effect on diabetes and lipid peroxidation of streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2005.
The hypoglycemic activity of the flavonoids rich fraction of 70% alcohol extract of the Egyptian Morus alba root bark - mulberry - was evaluated after its oral administration to streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Administration of mulberry for 10 days (600 mg kg/day) significantly reduced the amount of the glucose from control level to a lower level and significantly increased the insulin level from control to a high level. Mulberry may protect pancreatic beta cells from degeneration and diminish lipid peroxidation.

Mulberry tree pollen allergy
Mulberry trees were planted in Islamabad, Pakistan, in the 1960s and now every spring an explosion of pollen from paper mulberry trees produce levels of pollen that experts say are among the highest in the world. Islamabad was purpose-built in the 1960s, a small city with wide boulevards and plenty of greenery, on the edge of the Punjab plain, up against the foothills of the Himalayas. Designers planted paper mulberry on a massive scale. The trees were seen as ideal: they grow fast, provide good shade and bind the soil well. And they flourished. The trees showed no mercy on native species. They have conquered most green areas, crowding out local flora and blanketing banks of the numerous streams that flow out of the hills and through the city. By the early 1990s, people were wondering what was causing the epidemic of allergies that brought untold misery and filled hospitals every spring. Studies soon determined the main culprit was the male paper mulberry. At the end of February the pollen from the male trees begins drifting through the air. In March it erupts, producing counts of up to 40,000 pollen grains per cubic meter of air. In the West, a pollen count of 1,500 is considered dangerous. City officials are gradually cutting down many mulberry trees in order to reduce pollen count and subsequent allergies in the city dwellers.

Questions
Q. I am interested in purchasing the mulberry leaf for control of type 2 diabetes, that includes deoxynojirimycin DNJ (18 mg.) minimum. Where can I purchase it and what is your recommendation for dose to receive maximum benefit, i.e. in the form of tea or capsules (no. of milligrams per day). Also, are there any side effects.
   A. Very little has been studied in humans about the benefits and risks of mulberry leaf extract in humans and what the appropriate dosage would be for short term or long term use. As of now, I would suggest using other herbs and nutrients for blood sugar control that have been evaluated more thoroughly.