Morus alba, commonly known as White mulberry or Shahtoot (शहतूत) in Hindi is a fast-growing, medium sized tree. The ripe fruit is used in pies, tarts, wines and tea, while the leaves are used as medicinal herb.
White mulberry is native to northern China, India and is primary food source of silkworms. It was introduced to U.S.A. in ancient times when silk industry was started there and is now widely cultivated and naturalized elsewhere.
The fruit of trees grown wild in areas other than China is deep purple, but in cultivated plants it varies from white to pink. The white mulberry is sweet but bland, in contrast to the more intense flavor of red and black mulberry. The red and black variety is best for culinary use, while white is used medicinally.
Mulberry has been used as a “cooling” herb to remove excessive heats and toxins from the body in China. However, in recent years doctors and scientists are fascinated by its promising blood sugar management properties. Studies have shown that alkaloids and Nitrogen containing sugars isolated from mulberry leaves are potent inhibitors of alpha glucosidase, a key enzyme in carbohydrate and sugar metabolism pathways.
A recent “Dr. Oz Show” included a segment featuring white mulberry leaf tea to treat Diabetes. While this is great news to most of us, clinical studies have been on-going for decades. In fact, he just called White Mulberry “the next health food sensation” and a “super food”.
Andrew Weil, M.D, a famous physician who has devoted the past thirty years in developing, practicing, and teaching others about the principles of integrative medicine, has also recommended the use of white mulberry since at least 2007. Dr. Weil has written that mulberry leaf has been used as a folk remedy to treat diabetes by many cultures around the world and human studies show that it significantly reduces the spike in blood sugar that occurs after a meal.
Active Ingredients in Mulberry Leaves and Berries
The leaves contain a warehouse of highly active ingredients, vitamins and beneficial minerals, such as beta-carotene, GABA-1, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, chlorophyll, vitamin C, B1, B2, B6, A and they are rich in fiber.
The leaves contain six times more calcium than green tea, 25 times more than milk and 40 times more than cabbage. It contains 2.5 times more Iron than green tea and 10 times more than spinach.
Additionally, 100 g of mulberry dried leaves contain 230 mg of gamma-amino acid, which is thought to lower blood pressure, 46 mg of sitosterol which controls the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines, while the same amount of green tea provides 14 mg of sitosterol.
The nutritional benefits of dried white mulberries are also wonderful: an ounce of berries provides 16 percent of recommended daily fiber, 3 grams of protein, 130% of daily vitamin C, 20% of iron and only 90 calories. It’s also high in resveratrol, a proven antioxidant found in grapes.
Mulberry is also rich polynutrients like anthocyanin, flavonoids, lutein, zea-xanthin, B carotene and A carotene.
White mulberry has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use white mulberry.
Health Benefits of Mulberries
Mulberry is considered an important remedy in Chinese medicines. The health benefits of mulberry can be derived from its juice which is full of Vitamins, Minerals and anti-oxidants.
There are some ingredients in white mulberry that work in a similar way to some drugs used in Type 2 diabetes. They inhibit the breakdown of sugars in the gut so that they are absorbed more slowly into the blood. This helps the body maintain blood sugar levels in the desirable range. The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has reported that mulberry leaves may prevent diabetes in healthy persons by inhibiting the rise in blood glucose levels and insulin secretion after meals.
Major clinical trials conducted at the University of Minnesota, proved that mulberry leaf reduce body’s absorption of sugars and other carbohydrates and lower post-meal blood sugar spikes and stabilize blood sugar levels. Studies published in Diabetes Care, the most widely read diabetes journal, reported an average 44% reduction in peak post-meal blood sugar elevations. levels and to support cardiovascular health.
Diabetes damager – DNJ (1-Deoxynojirimycin)?
1-deoxynojirimycin (DNJ) is an interesting ingredient which is only found in mulberry leaves. DNJ is reported to inhibit the activity of a carbohydrate digesting enzyme called alpha-glucosidase. By slowing or stopping this enzyme, the digestion of starch and oligosaccharides is slowed, which suppresses blood glucose spikes after eating. Chemically DNJ is very similar to glucose. If the oxygen portion in the structure of glucose were replaced with nitrogen, the composition would be exactly the same as that of DNJ.
Simply speaking, the intake of disaccharides, (alpha-glucosidase /sugar) is immediately dissolved and broken down and absorbed by the body. But if DNJ is introduced into the body and because of its similar composition to glucose, the DNJ preferentially gets absorbed. During the process, the excess glucose moves to the colon without being broken down into monosaccharide and does not get absorbed into the blood. Instead it gets discharged. In effect this maximizes the body’s absorption of any remaining nutrition because disaccharides tend to displace or inhibit the body’s ability to absorb needed nutrients. This is why mulberry leaves, particularly the substrate DNJ, is now highly recognized as a promising herb which may help control carbohydrate absorption.
Dr. G.N.Ahanger Famous Researcher and Herbalist from Srinagar has concluded that White Mulberry is definitely superior to other herbs in treating Diabetes. He warns you to keep a strict watch on your sugar levels for 15 days when you start this tea. His company exported 27 Tons of Mulberry tea last year to Japan, Korea and Malaysia.
The effective dose for Diabetes is 2.5-5 g of dry mulberry leaves in the form of tea three times a day before meals, which corresponds to 9-18 mg of DNJ, respectively.
Enhances Immunity and Prevents Cancer
Mulberries are a good source of resveratrol, a potent phytonutrient that prevents cancer. It contains high level of anti-oxidants which stunts the growth of prostrate cells and tumor growth.
Cleanses Blood, Liver and Kidney
In Chinese medicine, mulberry is considered as a blood, Liver and Kidney cleanser. It improve circulation and helps in strengthening the entire system. It enriches the blood in the process while soothing and calming the nerves.
Cholesterol and Heart Health
Eating mulberries proves beneficial to the heart’s health. It strengthens the nervous system and reduces bad cholesterol thus preventing the blockage in flow of blood and thus prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Rejuvenates Skin and Enhance complexion
It has properties that help in clearing out dark spots and other blemishes on the facial skin. The process of melanin synthesis is regulated effectively, allowing you to get the clear and bright skin that you have always wanted. Experts recommend eating the fruit or drinking mulberry tea and juice to rejuvenate your skin.
Mulberry leaves can be used to treat extremely dry skin by steeping them in coconut or olive oil for a few days and applying the oil onto your skin. The leaves can be used in saunas and hot baths to help open up your pores as well as detoxify your body. The steam that contains infused mulberry leaves allows your body to sweat and regulates your body’s metabolism as well.
Promotes Hair Growth and Retains Hair’s Natural Color
Mulberries have properties that can help make your hair healthier. It is well-known that this berry promotes hair growth, thus preventing hair loss. The production of melanin in your hair is enhanced by mulberries. This allows you to retain your hair’s natural color.
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