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Herbs & Botanicals

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Mulberry Leaf (sang ye)

What is mulberry leaf? What is it used for?

Mulberry leaf comes from the mulberry tree, which is found throughout China and cultivated across most parts of the world. All told, there are 10 different species of mulberry tree, the most common of which is morus nigra, or black mulberry. The leaves of a mulberry tree are green and spade shaped. They are harvested in autumn and dried before being used in herbal remedies.

Mulberry leaf has sweet, bitter and cold properties in traditional Chinese medicine. It is associated with the Liver and Lung meridians, and functions to clear lung heat (which can manifest as a fever, headache, sore throat or cough) and clear fire in the liver (which is manifested as red, painful and watery eyes). It is also used to stop bleeding, especially in patients who are vomiting blood. In addition, in vitro studies have shown that decoctions made from fresh mulberry leaf can inhibit the progress of several bacteria, including S. aureus and hemolytic streptococcus. New research shows that mulberry leaf extracts can also play a role in the management and treatment of diabetes.

Mulberry is often employed in combination with other herbs, notably chrysanthemum, apricot seeds, and ligustrum.

How much mulberry leaf should I take?

The average dosage of mulberry leaf is 4.5-15 grams, depending on the condition being treated. Some practitioners recommend slightly lower doses (5-10 grams), used orally as a powder or decoction.

What forms of mulberry leaf are available?

Whole, dried mulberry leaves can be found at some herbal shops, Asian markets and apothecaries. Many nutrition stores also sell mulberry leaf powders, pills and capsules.

What can happen if I take too much mulberry leaf? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

As of this writing, there are no known side-effects associated with mulberry leaf, nor are there any known drug interactions. As always, however, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking mulberry leaf or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Fratkin J, Fischer W, Wu Y. Practical Therapeutics of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Brookline, MA: Paradigm Publications, 1997.
  • Hirayama C, Sugimura M, Saito H, et al. Purification and properties of urease from the leaf of mulberry, morus alba. Phytochemistry February;53(3):325-30.
  • Murata K, Yatsunami K, Fukuda E, et al. Antihyperglycemic effects of propolis mixed with mulberry leaf extract on patients with type 2 diabetes. Altern Ther Health Med May-June 2004;10(3):78-9.
  • Ratanapo S, Ngamjunyaporn W, Chulavatnatol M. Interaction of a mulberry leaf lectin with a phytopathogenic bacterium, P. syringae pv mori. Plant Sci March 2001;160(4):739-744.
  • Srivastava S, Kapoor R, Thathola A, et al. Mulberry (morus alba) leaves as human food: a new dimension of sericulture. Int J Food Sci Nutr November 2003;54(6):411-6.

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