Why do blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries get all the fame? What about mulberries? Remember that childhood nursery song — ‘here we go round the mulberry bush’? What happened to mulberries? And just what are they?
And more importantly, is mulberry extract essential to a healthy diet?
The answer is YES.
Sweet, ripe mulberries might make a tasty pie, but there’s a better reason why mulberry extract should find its way into your diet. The health benefits from mulberry extract may make a great contribution to your overall quality of life.
Now, by no means is the mulberry a NEW superfruit, nor is it new to the health industry — Chinese and Japanese medicines have used the plant for centuries — but interest in the mulberry and its benefits is definitely on the upswing again… and it’s about time.
Mulberry Mojo from Around the World
Over time, the mulberry has evolved, split, and splayed into dozens of different varieties. It looks like someone stretched a blackberry and left it that way. China lists 14 different species for the mulberry, with other species found in India, the Himalayas, and Japan.1 North American mulberries include the red mulberry (Moras rubra) species.2
The mulberry and its extract have so many health benefits that literally every part of the it can be used to help with one health concern or another. The mulberry tree’s bark, leaves, and fruit are all useful. But, it’s the extract that packs the most powerful — and beneficial — punch.
Here are just a few of the benefits of mulberry:
- It helps with weight loss or weight maintenance 3
- It’s been known to have anti-inflammatory properties 4
- It’s a helpful diuretic 5
In fact, the mulberry leaf is also used in a variety of other ways. It happens to be a good source of protein. Not only that, it may also help to protect the brain against certain neurological diseases.6 And there are even studies suggesting it may also improve skin tone.That’s why the mulberry fruit has often been used in so many beneficial health tonics.7
The Magnificent Mulberry
Lowers Blood Glucose
For a long time, mulberry extract has been touted for its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.8 Furthermore, its leaves contain deoxynojirimycin (known as DNJ), a sophisticated word for a glucose inhibitor.9
Long story short… according to a recent study, the DNJ in mulberry leaves helps to lessen the risk for diabetes. How so? Well, the chemical lowers the blood glucose and insulin levels while raising fat burning proteins. Bad cholesterol levels were also moderately reduced as well.10,11
Additionally, including mulberry extracts in the diet are linked with a decline in lipid accumulation in the liver and muscles. This could help lower blood glucose levels and improve insulin responses.12
Another great property of mulberry extract is its ability to inhibit tyrosinase. This means means mulberry might even help stop the production of melanin — the pigment that determines skin color.13
And recently, a hybrid of the mulberry plant, taken from two different species of mulberry, has been said to be included in promising Thai whitening agents.14
These Berries Aren’t Beating Around the Bush…
Essential mineral and antioxidant properties pop up everywhere when looking at the mulberry. Four different species, the black mulberry (Morus nigra), the white mulberry (Morus alba), the large white mulberry, and the large black mulberry exhibited high levels of phenols and alkaloids.15
Translation: mulberries have nutritious nitrogen and carbolic acids that are healthy for the diet by activating macrophage (or white blood cell) activity and boosting the immune system.16
There are other beneficial elements in mulberries as well:
- Anthocyanins, pigments that appear red, blue, or purple. They are present in fruits, vegetables, wine, and grains which give these food their anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and antimutagenic properties.17,18
- Black mulberries, in comparison to red mulberries, have higher antioxidant capacity, while both have healthy levels of fructose, glucose, and citric acid.19
- They’re rich in Vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin K1, Potassium, and Vitamin E.20
Latest Health Studies
Recent studies are looking into the gamma-aminobutyric acid (known as GABA) within mulberry leaves. GABA depletion in the brain has been related to neurological diseases, and the GABA in the mulberry leaves (dubbed GAML) is being used to combat depletion.21,22
Acronyms aside, mulberry leaves = good for the brain!
In addition, studies are being conducted to further evaluate and determine the white mulberry’s abilities to potentially help fight inflammation in the body. Researchers found in one study that the extract of white mulberry (and its active compound, oxyresveratrol) may indeed provide anti-inflammatory benefits, preventing symptoms such as over-active white blood cell activity, which can lead to fevers, and irritation, etc.23
Furthermore, scientists are also investigating further the use of mulberry root barks as a way to control inflammation. Specifically, they’re looking at a way to help relieve lung inflammation (like bronchitis). A study in 2013 indicated that Morbus alba (white mulberry) root bark did inhibit bronchitis-like symptoms and was even able to help control some inflammation in the lungs including bronchitis.24
How to Add More Mulberry to Your Diet
The health benefits of mulberries range from weight loss to neuroprotection and even include controlling insulin levels. Mulberries can also help suppress fevers, coughs, and inflammation. The entire plant is chock-full of healthy vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
But unless you have a mulberry bush growing in your garden, it may be challenging to add them to your diet. However, there are many supplements with mulberry extract in pill, powder or liquid form. The health potential of mulberry extract is exciting because of the ways it can help you feel vibrant and well!
Learn more about mulberry:
1. Suttie J. Morus alba. Faoorg. 2002. Accessed February 28, 2017.
2. Suttie J. Morus alba. Faoorg. 2002. Accessed February 28, 2017.
3. Da Villa G e. White mulberry supplementation as adjuvant treatment of obesity. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2014. Accessed February 28, 2017.
4. Kim APark S. Mulberry Extract Supplements Ameliorate the Inflammation-Related Hematological Parameters in Carrageenan-Induced Arthritic Rats. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2006;9(3):431-435. doi:10.1089/jmf.2006.9.431.
5 Yamatake Y e. Pharmacological studies on root bark of mulberry tree (Morus alba L.) – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 1976. Accessed February 28, 2017.
6 Kang TH e. Enhancement of neuroprotection of mulberry leaves (Morus alba L.) prepared by the anaerobic treatment against ischemic damage. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2006. Accessed February 28, 2017.
7 Binic I, Lazarevic V, Ljubenovic M, Mojsa J, Sokolovic D. Skin Ageing: Natural Weapons and Strategies. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013;2013:1-10. doi:10.1155/2013/827248.
8 Wang W, Zu Y, Fu Y, Efferth T. In Vitro Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activity of Extracts from Morus alba L. Leaves, Stems and Fruits. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2012;40(02):349-356. doi:10.1142/s0192415x12500279.
9 Kojima Y, Kimura T, Nakagawa K et al. Effects of Mulberry Leaf Extract Rich in 1-Deoxynojirimycin on Blood Lipid Profiles in Humans. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. 2010;47(2):155-161. doi:10.3164/jcbn.10-53.
10 Kojima Y, Kimura T, Nakagawa K et al. Effects of Mulberry Leaf Extract Rich in 1-Deoxynojirimycin on Blood Lipid Profiles in Humans. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. 2010;47(2):155-161. doi:10.3164/jcbn.10-53.
11 Kojima Y, Kimura T, Nakagawa K et al. Effects of Mulberry Leaf Extract Rich in 1-Deoxynojirimycin on Blood Lipid Profiles in Humans. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. 2010;47(2):155-161. doi:10.3164/jcbn.10-53.
12 Lown M, Fuller R, Lightowler H et al. Mulberry extract to modULate Blood glucosE Responses in noRmoglYcaemic adults (MULBERRY): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials. 2015;16(1). doi:10.1186/s13063-015-0997-2.
13 Smit N, Vicanova J, Pavel S. The Hunt for Natural Skin Whitening Agents. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2009;10(12):5326-5349. doi:10.3390/ijms10125326.
14 Nattapong SOmboon L. A new source of whitening agent from a Thai Mulberry plant and its betulinic acid quantitation. Natural Product Research. 2008;22(9):727-734. doi:10.1080/14786410601130794.
15 Imran M, Khan H, Shah M, Khan R, Khan F. Chemical composition and antioxidant activity of certain Morus species. Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE B. 2010;11(12):973-980. doi:10.1631/jzus.b1000173.
16 Kim S, Chang B, Jo Y et al. Macrophage activating activity of pyrrole alkaloids from Morus alba fruits. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2013;145(1):393-396. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2012.11.007.
17 Kim S, Chang B, Jo Y et al. Macrophage activating activity of pyrrole alkaloids from Morus alba fruits. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2013;145(1):393-396. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2012.11.007.
18 Zou T, Wang M, Gan R, Ling W. Optimization of Ultrasound-Assisted Extraction of Anthocyanins from Mulberry, Using Response Surface Methodology. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2011;12(12):3006-3017. doi:10.3390/ijms12053006.
19 Özgen M, Serçe S, Kaya C. Phytochemical and antioxidant properties of anthocyanin-rich Morus nigra and Morus rubra fruits. Scientia Horticulturae. 2009;119(3):275-279. doi:10.1016/j.scienta.2008.08.007.
20 Adda Bjarnadottir M. Mulberries 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. Authority Nutrition. 2012. Accessed February 28, 2017.
21 Jiang Y, Wang C, Jin C et al. Improved 1-Deoxynojirimycin (DNJ) production in mulberry leaves fermented by microorganism. Brazilian Journal of Microbiology. 2014;45(2):721-729. doi:10.1590/s1517-83822014000200048.
22 Kang TH e. Enhancement of neuroprotection of mulberry leaves (Morus alba L.) prepared by the anaerobic treatment against ischemic damage. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2006. Accessed February 28, 2017.
23 Chen Y, Tien Y, Chen C et al. Morus alba and active compound oxyresveratrol exert anti-inflammatory activity via inhibition of leukocyte migration involving MEK/ERK signaling. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013;13(1). doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-45.
24 Lim H, Jin H, Woo E, Lee S, Kim H. The root barks of Morus alba and the flavonoid constituents inhibit airway inflammation. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2013;149(1):169-175. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.017.