mulberry benefits menopause and diabetes

Mulberry is not a herb that is well known nor often discussed. But new research is opening up the possibility that this little known herb may have really big value.

There are three kinds of mulberry trees. Each is named for the colour of its fruit: white, red and black. The berries and leaves are showing promise in two areas: menopause and diabetes.

There are many herbs that help menopause, but mulberry is probably not one you have heard of. A study that is likely the first of its kind compared black mulberry leaf powder (Morus nigra L) to hormone therapy and placebo. There were 62 menopausal women in the 60 day double-blind study. The women were given either a placebo, 1mg of estradiol or 250mg of black mulberry leaf powder.

The herb and the hormone both produced significant improvement on the Blatt-Kupperman index, but the mulberry powder improved it more. The women who took the mulberry improved by 7.8 points (from 17.5 to 9.7); the women who took the estradiol improved by 6.8 points (from 15.4 to 8.6). Both were better than placebo.

This study introduces the possibility that mulberry may be superior to estrogen therapy for menopause.

A double-blind study using white mulberry (Morus alba) combined the herb with the known natural diabetes supplements chromium and yerba mate. Prediabetics who took the natural combination saw their fasting blood sugar drop by 7.8%. Insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) went down by 7.9% and improved in everyone on the combination supplement. Blood sugar control was better in the natural combination group, and insulin resistance returned to normal in 67% of them. 16.6% of people taking the natural supplement returned to normal blood sugar. The chromium/yerba mate/white mulberry group also reduced their triglycerides by 8.3%.

A second study used extracts from white mulberry fruit or leaf. Both extracts significantly reduced blood glucose and insulin after eating compared to placebo (Nutr Metabol July 6, 2020;17:51).

A third, just published, mulberry study used alkaloids taken from the twigs of the tree. This 24 week double-blind study included 600 type 2 diabetics. It compared the mulberry alkaloids to the diabetes drug acarbose. An important marker of long term diabetes and blood sugar control improved equally in the mulberry group and in the drug group, with a nonsignificant advantage going to the mulberry. The mulberry also had the advantage of being safer (Diabetes Care 2021 Apr 8;dc202109).

In the most recent—and fourth diabetes study published in the past year—an extract of black mulberry was compared to a placebo in people with diabetes. Fasting blood sugar and HbA1c both improved significantly in the mulberry group and both results were superior to the placebo. HbA1c is the most important marker of long term diabetes and blood sugar control (J Complement Integr Med 2021 May 5. doi:10.1515/jcim-2021-0005).

Excitingly, all five of these studies have been published in the past five years, suggesting that mulberry may be a very exciting new herb.

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