Skip to main content

The Wide-Ranging Benefits of the White Mulberry Plant

Beverley has a degree in Science and additional certifications in nutrition and aromatherapy. She's published on and offline.

The Health Benefits of and Studies of White Mulberry

The Health Benefits of and Studies of White Mulberry

White Mulberry, botanically Morus alba L, offers a wide range of human health benefits. That’s because the native Chinese plant is loaded with bioactive constituents such as polyphenols, alkaloids, vitamin C, and calcium. Researchers believe them to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, anti-obesity, antimicrobial, and hepatoprotective properties.

The Chinese traditionally used mulberry as a nutraceutical (medicine and food), and in their silk industry. Today the white, purple, red, and black varieties are grown in Iran, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, and United States.

Depending on the plant part, white mulberry is used as a tea, extract, powder, or encapsulated. The berries are eaten fresh, dried, or cooked. Young leaves are also cooked.

Other names for white mulberry include common mulberry, Egyptian mulberry, silkworm mulberry, Russian mulberry, mon tea, and chi sang.

White Mulberry Plant

White Mulberry Plant

What Parts of White Mulberry Are Used in Herbal Preparations?

The root, bark, stem, leaves, and fruit or berries are all used in herbal and pharmaceutical preparations. There is some overlap in the ailments they treat. The leaves and berries, for instance, have been used to remedy diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Reasonable since both plant parts contain similar bioactive compounds.

Note that there’s no medical evidence to support white mulberry plant parts curing, treating, or preventing diseases in humans. Always consult your healthcare provider before consuming any food source or supplements for health and wellbeing purposes.

Bioactive Compounds in White Mulberry Root or Root Bark

Scientists have discovered rich supplies of powerful polyphenols including flavonoids like anthocyanins, Kuwanon C, and Kuwanon G, oxyresveratrol, and prenylated flavones like morusin in the white mulberry root or root bark. These compounds seem to exhibit a host of health benefits.

Health Benefits of White Mulberry Root or Root Bark

White mulberry root or root bark may:

  • Decrease Cancer Risk: Research suggests that the Kuwanon C, Kuwanon G, and morusin among other compounds may reduce the risk of cancers such as colorectal cancer. The polyphenols seem to suppress proteins that activate cancer cell production. The growth of breast, pancreatic, liver, gastric, glioblastoma, hepatocarcinoma and prostate cancer have all been stymied by the flavone morusin, according to research studies. And leukemia has been inhibited by the cytotoxic and apoptotic properties of the bioactive compound Albanol A, which has also been found in the root bark.
  • Show Antimicrobial/ Anthelmintic Activity: White mulberry root extract may prevent or treat viral diseases such as herpes.
  • Offer Dental Health: Research shows that the Kuwanon G compound may stop the growth of the oral bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.
  • Reduce Stress and Depression: Experiments with mice seem to imply that their induced stress was normalized when they were treated with white mulberry root bark extract. Trials on rats suggest that depression could also be inhibited.
  • Whiten Skin: You may have noticed white mulberry root bark listed as an ingredient in some skin-whitening or skin-toning products. That’s because, in clinical trials with human subjects, white mulberry oil seemed to lighten dark patches on the skin. Studies on mice indicate that the compound, mulberroside F may be inhibiting melanin production.
White Mulberry Stems or Twigs

White Mulberry Stems or Twigs

Bioactive Compounds in White Mulberry Stems

White mulberry stems or twigs also seem to have beneficial phytocompounds. In one study, researchers isolated flavonoids, flavones (especially morusin), coumarins, and stilbenoids, including various forms of resveratrol.

Health Benefits of White Mulberry Stems

What human health benefits could these twigs offer? Research indicates antioxidant activity, anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging properties. This may help

Read More From Remedygrove

  • Prevent Cancer: The antioxidant ability of white mulberry twigs or stems may help prevent certain cancers.
  • Protect Against Strokes: The antioxidants may be effective against strokes by reducing cellular oxidative stress and post-stroke brain damage.
  • Protect Against Diabetes: Studies show that controlling one’s weight is an important protection against the potentially harmful side effects of type 2 diabetes.
  • Protect Against Infectious Diseases: White mulberry stems have polyphenols such as the prenylated flavone morusin that act as agents against infectious diseases such as herpes.
  • Offer Hepatoprotective Aid: Research shows that the resveratrol stilbenes may offer hepatoprotective support for the liver and kidneys.
  • Slow Ageing: The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the phytochemicals exhibit potential in the fight against signs of aging like changes in skin tone.
White Mulberry Leaves

White Mulberry Leaves

The Bioactive Compounds in White Mulberry Leaves

Are the bioactive compounds in white mulberry leaves similar to those in the other plant parts? Yes, in varying degrees of concentration and type.

Health Benefits of White Mulberry Leaves

In traditional Chinese medicine, white mulberry leaves were used as a cooling herb, to protect and balance one’s emotions, immune system, lungs, and liver. Current research has discovered constituents in the leaves that may actually prove the wisdom of those ancient herbalists.

White mulberry leaves are rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant flavonoids, stilbenoids, alkaloids, B-vitamins, vitamin C, iron, zinc, calcium, and phosphorus. In research, they exhibit potential anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, anti-hyperlipidemic, anti-cancer, antimicrobial, cardio-, hepato-, and neuroprotective, and skin-whitening properties. Specifically, white mulberry leaves may:

  • Lower Blood Glucose and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: In research studies, individuals who consumed excessive amounts of sugar and carbs, saw their risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes significantly lowered after treatment with white mulberry leaves extract. Their blood glucose and insulin levels decreased.
  • Lower Blood Cholesterol & Obesity: White mulberry leaves may be anti-hyperlipidemic, lowering the levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood. This activity reduces the risk of obesity as well.
  • Prohibit Growth of Certain Cancers: In vitro research suggests that the leaves may have the potential to stop the growth of liver cancer. Hence their hepatoprotective efficacy.
  • Promote Cardiovascular Health: Because they have shown the ability to decrease lipid buildup, including the bad LDL cholesterol in the blood, and reduce blood pressure, the leaves may help to promote cardiovascular health.
  • Promote Neuroprotection: Studies indicate that white mulberry leaves may offer cognitive support.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Support: A number of studies suggest that the anti-inflammatory polyphenols may provide support by reducing inflammatory-causing proteins and oxidative stress.
  • Antimicrobial Support: In one study, mice were given white mulberry leaf extract to determine the plant’s antimicrobial efficacy. Later assays of the animals’ tissues indicated antimicrobial potential.
  • Reduce Fatigue: Another study with mice as the subject showed fatigue reduction and increased endurance when they were treated with a compound isolated from the leaves.
White Mulberry Berries

White Mulberry Berries

Bioactive Compounds in White Mulberry Berries

White mulberry fruits, berries with a sweet-sour taste, also contain lots of phytocompounds that may be beneficial to human health. Science shows most of the berries’ constituents are similar to that of the roots, bark, stems, and leaves. This includes polyphenols, alkaloids, fatty acids, proteins, carbs, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Health Benefits of White Mulberry Fruits or Berries

Like the roots, stems, and leaves, research implies that the constituents of white mulberry berries may lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, offer hepato and anti-inflammatory support, and possibly

  • Decrease Risk of Diabetes: Diabetic rats treated with the berries experienced lower blood sugar levels along with a marked increase in weight and insulin levels.
  • Show Positive Anti-Cholesterol and Anti-Obesity Responses: A study with obese hamsters suggests that mulberry fruits offered anti-cholesterol and anti-obesity aid.
  • Lower Cancer Risk: Research on gastric cancers specifically, showed that the berries may offer preventative support.
  • Offer Brain Damage Protection: An in vivo study suggested that berry components may be neuroprotective with regards to brain damage.
  • Strengthen Immunity: Alkaloids isolated from white mulberry fruits, demonstrated great immune-enhancement potential, an important factor in preventing microbial diseases.
  • Prevent Premature Gray Hair and Promote Hair Growth: Mulberry juice has been used to blacken gray hair and as a tonic or topical treatment for hair growth.

Side Effects and Drug Interaction of Consuming White Mulberry

Though consumption may be relatively safe, there’s no medical evidence to support white mulberry plant parts curing, treating, or preventing disease in humans. Always consult your healthcare provider before consuming any food source or supplements for health and wellbeing purposes.

Exercise extra care if you are taking medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, pregnant, breastfeeding, or a child. Perhaps you should avoid using the herb.

The leaves also produce latex sap, which may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.

Bottom Line

White mulberry has had centuries of use as a nutraceutical in China. In vivo and in vitro studies on all parts of this plant, from root to berries, indicate the presence of important phytocompounds such as flavonoids, flavones, stilbenoids, alkaloids, minerals, and vitamins may help a wide range of human health issues.

Researchers have studied its impact on cancers, diabetes and other metabolic diseases, cardiovascular diseases, liver and brain or cognitive issues, dental health, and problematic skin conditions.

That said, white mulberry may be relatively safe, but individuals consider the possibility of side effects and drug interactions, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children. You should consult your healthcare provider.

White Mulberry Consumption Poll

Sources

Alvin, G., Catambay, N., Vergara, A., & Jamora, M. J. (2011). A comparative study of the safety and efficacy of 75% mulberry (Morus alba) extract oil versus placebo as a topical treatment for melasma: a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of drugs in dermatology: JDD, 10(9), 1025–1031.

Binic, I., Lazarevic, V., Ljubenovic, M., Mojsa, J., & Sokolovic, D. (2013). Skin ageing: natural weapons and strategies. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2013, 827248. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/827248

Borek C. (2004). Dietary antioxidants and human cancer. Integrative cancer therapies, 3(4), 333–341. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534735404270578

Chang, L. W., Juang, L. J., Wang, B. S., Wang, M. Y., Tai, H. M., Hung, W. J., Chen, Y. J., & Huang, M. H. (2011). Antioxidant and antityrosinase activity of mulberry (Morus alba L.) twigs and root bark. Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, 49(4), 785–790. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2010.11.045

Chao, P. Y., Lin, K. H., Chiu, C. C., Yang, Y. Y., Huang, M. Y., & Yang, C. M. (2013). Inhibitive effects of mulberry leaf-related extracts on cell adhesion and inflammatory response in human aortic endothelial cells. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2013, 267217. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/267217

Chen, H., He, X., Liu, Y., Li, J., He, Q., Zhang, C., Wei, B., Zhang, Y., & Wang, J. (2016). Extraction, purification and anti-fatigue activity of γ-aminobutyric acid from mulberry (Morus alba L.) leaves. Scientific reports, 6, 18933. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep18933

Enkhmaa, B., Shiwaku, K., Katsube, T., Kitajima, K., Anuurad, E., Yamasaki, M., & Yamane, Y. (2005). Mulberry (Morus alba L.) leaves and their major flavonol quercetin 3-(6-malonylglucoside) attenuate atherosclerotic lesion development in LDL receptor-deficient mice. The Journal of nutrition, 135(4), 729–734. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/135.4.729

Eo, H. J., Park, J. H., Park, G. H., Lee, M. H., Lee, J. R., Koo, J. S., & Jeong, J. B. (2014). Anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activity of mulberry (Morus alba L.) root bark. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 14, 200. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-14-200

Gungor, N., Sengul, M. 2008. Antioxidant Activity, Total Phenolic Content and Selected Physicochemical Properties of White Mulberry (Morus Alba L.) Fruits. International Journal of Food Properties, 11:1, 44-52, https://doi.org/10.1080/10942910701558652

Guo, C., Li, R., Zheng, N., Xu, L., Liang, T., & He, Q. (2013). Anti-diabetic effect of ramulus mori polysaccharides, isolated from Morus alba L., on STZ-diabetic mice through blocking inflammatory response and attenuating oxidative stress. International immunopharmacology, 16(1), 93–99. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intimp.2013.03.029

Jing-Han Liang, Yao-Wu Fu, Qi-Zhong Zhang, De-Hai Xu, Bin Wang, and De-Jie Lin. Identification and Effect of Two Flavonoids from Root Bark of Morus alba against Ichthyophthirius multifiliis in Grass Carp. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2015 63 (5), 1452-1459 DOI: 10.1021/jf505544e

Kang, T. H., Hur, J. Y., Kim, H. B., Ryu, J. H., & Kim, S. Y. (2006). Neuroprotective effects of the cyanidin-3-O-beta-d-glucopyranoside isolated from mulberry fruit against cerebral ischemia. Neuroscience letters, 391(3), 122–126. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2005.08.053

Kikuchi, T., Nihei, M., Nagai, H., Fukushi, H., Tabata, K., Suzuki, T., & Akihisa, T. (2010). Albanol A from the root bark of Morus alba L. induces apoptotic cell death in HL60 human leukemia cell line. Chemical & pharmaceutical bulletin, 58(4), 568–571. https://doi.org/10.1248/cpb.58.568

Kim, S. B., Chang, B. Y., Jo, Y. H., Lee, S. H., Han, S. B., Hwang, B. Y., Kim, S. Y., & Lee, M. K. (2013). Macrophage activating activity of pyrrole alkaloids from Morus alba fruits. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 145(1), 393–396. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2012.11.007

Komsiiska, D. Oxidative stress and stroke: a review of upstream and downstream antioxidant therapeutic options. Comp Clin Pathol 28, 915–926 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00580-019-02940-z

Lim, D. W., Jung, J. W., Park, J. H., Baek, N. I., Kim, Y. T., Kim, I. H., & Han, D. (2015). Antidepressant-Like Effects of Sanggenon G, Isolated from the Root Bark of Morus alba, in Rats: Involvement of the Serotonergic System. Biological & pharmaceutical bulletin, 38(11), 1772–1778. https://doi.org/10.1248/bpb.b15-00471

Lim, H. H., Lee, S. O., Kim, S. Y., Yang, S. J., & Lim, Y. (2013). Anti-inflammatory and antiobesity effects of mulberry leaf and fruit extract on high fat diet-induced obesity. Experimental biology and medicine (Maywood, N.J.), 238(10), 1160–1169. https://doi.org/10.1177/1535370213498982

Leitner, D. R., Frühbeck, G., Yumuk, V., Schindler, K., Micic, D., Woodward, E., & Toplak, H. (2017). Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes: Two Diseases with a Need for Combined Treatment Strategies - EASO Can Lead the Way. Obesity facts, 10(5), 483–492. https://doi.org/10.1159/000480525

Lown, M., Fuller, R., Lightowler, H., Fraser, A., Gallagher, A., Stuart, B., Byrne, C., & Lewith, G. (2017). Mulberry-extract improves glucose tolerance and decreases insulin concentrations in normoglycaemic adults: Results of a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study. PloS one, 12(2), e0172239. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0172239

Mu, Y., Xu, Z., Zhou, X., Zhang, H., Yang, Q., Zhang, Y., Xie, Y., Kang, J., Li, F., & Wang, S. (2017). 2,3,5,4'-Tetrahydroxystilbene-2-O-β-D-Glucoside Attenuates Ischemia/Reperfusion-Induced Brain Injury in Rats by Promoting Angiogenesis. Planta medica, 83(8), 676–683. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0042-120544

Nade, V. S., Kawale, L. A., Naik, R. A., & Yadav, A. V. (2009). Adaptogenic effect of Morus alba on chronic footshock-induced stress in rats. Indian journal of pharmacology, 41(6), 246–251. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7613.59921

Oliveira, A. M., Nascimento, M. F., Ferreira, M. R., Moura, D. F., Souza, T. G., Silva, G. C., Ramos, E. H., Paiva, P. M., Medeiros, P. L., Silva, T. G., Soares, L. A., Chagas, C. A., Souza, I. A., & Napoleão, T. H. (2016). Evaluation of acute toxicity, genotoxicity and inhibitory effect on acute inflammation of an ethanol extract of Morus alba L. (Moraceae) in mice. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 194, 162–168. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2016.09.004

Panek-Krzyśko, A., & Stompor-Gorący, M. (2021). The Pro-Health Benefits of Morusin Administration-An Update Review. Nutrients, 13(9), 3043. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13093043

Park, K. M., You, J. S., Lee, H. Y., Baek, N. I., & Hwang, J. K. (2003). Kuwanon G: an antibacterial agent from the root bark of Morus alba against oral pathogens. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 84(2-3), 181–185. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0378-8741(02)00318-5

Peng, C. H., Liu, L. K., Chuang, C. M., Chyau, C. C., Huang, C. N., & Wang, C. J. (2011). Mulberry water extracts possess an anti-obesity effect and ability to inhibit hepatic lipogenesis and promote lipolysis. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 59(6), 2663–2671. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf1043508

Pourhoseingholi, M. A., Vahedi, M., & Baghestani, A. R. (2015). Burden of gastrointestinal cancer in Asia; an overview. Gastroenterology and hepatology from bed to bench, 8(1), 19–27.

Sayed A. El-Toumya, Josline Y. Saliba, Walaa A.El Kashakb, Christel Marty, Gilles Bedoux, Nathalie Bourgougnon. Antiviral effect of polyphenol-rich plant extracts on herpes simplex virus type 1. Food Science and Human Wellness. Volume 7, Issue 1, March 2018, Pages 91-101. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fshw.2018.01.001

Syahdi, R. R., Mun'im, A., Suhartanto, H., & Yanuar, A. (2012). Virtual screening of Indonesian herbal database as HIV-1 reverse transcriptase inhibitor. Bioinformation, 8(24), 1206–1210. https://doi.org/10.6026/97320630081206

Srivastava, S., Kapoor, R., Thathola, A., & Srivastava, R. P. (2006). Nutritional quality of leaves of some genotypes of mulberry (Morus alba). International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 57(5-6), 305–313. https://doi.org/10.1080/09637480600801837

de Oliveira, A. M., Mesquita, M., da Silva, G. C., de Oliveira Lima, E., de Medeiros, P. L., Paiva, P. M., de Souza, I. A., & Napoleão, T. H. (2015). Evaluation of Toxicity and Antimicrobial Activity of an Ethanolic Extract from Leaves of Morus alba L. (Moraceae). Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2015, 513978. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/513978

Zhang, H., Ma, Z. F., Luo, X., & Li, X. (2018). Effects of Mulberry Fruit (Morus alba L.) Consumption on Health Outcomes: A Mini-Review. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 7(5), 69. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox7050069

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Beverley Byer

Related Articles