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Morus Alba (White Mulberry): Medical Uses, Health Effects, Mechanisms (2023 Research)

Morus alba, a member of the Moraceae family, is not only known for its role in sericulture but also for its therapeutic potential.

The plant’s traditional uses are backed by scientific research, indicating its effectiveness in various medical conditions.


  • Morus alba is utilized in traditional medicine for its analgesic, antibacterial, antidiabetic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • It contains a wide range of phytochemicals including tannins, flavonoids, phytosterols, and alkaloids.
  • Pharmacological studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating various ailments ranging from diabetes to cardiovascular diseases.
  • Morus alba is widely distributed across Asia, Africa, South America, Europe, and North America.

Source: Naunyn-Schmiedeberg’s Archives of Pharmacology (2023)

Morus Alba (White Mulberry): Overview

Morus alba, commonly referred to as white mulberry, is a deciduous tree that can reach heights between 10 to 20 meters.

It has a notable light-colored bark, often grey or yellowish, which becomes deeply furrowed with age.

The tree’s leaves are its hallmark, varying greatly in shape, from heart-shaped to oval, and sometimes lobed.

They are bright green, glossy, and have a smooth texture, with a slightly paler underside.

The tree produces small, inconspicuous flowers which are grouped in catkins and are generally wind-pollinated.

Morus alba’s fruits are aggregate fruits that closely resemble blackberries.

Historical Context & Global Spread

Originally from China, Morus alba has been an integral part of Chinese culture and economy for thousands of years, primarily due to its role in sericulture.

The cultivation of Morus alba for silkworm feeding fueled the silk industry, a major economic and cultural element in ancient China.

Over time, its cultivation spread along the Silk Road to other parts of Asia and eventually to Europe and North America.

Traditional Uses Across Cultures

In TCM, Morus alba is believed to benefit the liver and kidneys, with its leaves and fruit used to treat conditions like insomnia, dizziness, and premature graying of hair.

The root bark is known for its antipyretic and diuretic properties.

In Indian Ayurvedic medicine, Morus alba is used to treat cold, flu, and respiratory issues, reflecting its adaptogenic qualities.

It’s also used in Korean and Japanese traditional medicine for similar purposes, including as a blood tonic and an agent to improve vision.

Culinary Uses & Nutritional Value

Apart from its medicinal applications, Morus alba holds a significant place in culinary traditions.

The fruits, with their sweet and slightly tart flavor, are consumed fresh, dried, or used in making jams, pies, wines, and teas.

In some cultures, the young leaves are also cooked and eaten as a vegetable.

Nutritionally, Morus alba’s fruits are rich in vitamins C and K, iron, potassium, and various phytonutrients.

They are also a good source of dietary fiber.

The leaves, often used for tea, contain compounds like flavonoids and antioxidants, contributing to their health benefits.

Morus Alba (White Mulberry): Phytochemicals & Mechanisms of Morus Alba

Morus alba contains a complex array of bioactive compounds, each contributing to its broad spectrum of medicinal properties.

Understanding these compounds in detail provides a clearer picture of how Morus alba operates at a molecular level to impart health benefits.


Specific Compounds: Quercetin, kaempferol, rutin, and isoquercitrin are the primary flavonoids.

Mechanisms of Action

These flavonoids are powerful antioxidants, neutralizing free radicals and reducing oxidative stress, a key contributor to chronic diseases.

Quercetin, in particular, is known for its anti-inflammatory effects, inhibiting enzymes like cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX), and blocking the production of inflammatory mediators like prostaglandins.

Rutin strengthens capillaries, which can be beneficial in conditions like varicose veins and hemorrhoids.


Primary Compound: 1-Deoxynojirimycin (DNJ).

Mechanisms of Action

DNJ is a potent alpha-glucosidase inhibitor, effectively slowing down the breakdown of carbohydrates into simple sugars, thereby managing blood glucose levels post-meals.

This makes it particularly valuable in the management of Type 2 diabetes.

Phenolic Acids

Specific Compounds: Chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid.

Mechanisms of Action

These acids exhibit strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Chlorogenic acid, for instance, has been shown to modulate glucose and lipid metabolism, indicating potential benefits in metabolic syndrome.

Ferulic acid displays neuroprotective effects and might be beneficial in preventing age-related neurodegenerative diseases.


Specific Compounds: Mainly cyanidin-3-glucoside.

Mechanisms of Action

Apart from their antioxidant capabilities, anthocyanins in Morus alba have shown promise in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases by improving endothelial function and inhibiting LDL cholesterol oxidation.

Steroids & Sterols

Specific Compounds: β-Sitosterol and stigmasterol.

Mechanisms of Action

These compounds are known to lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting its absorption in the intestines.

β-Sitosterol also exhibits anti-cancer properties, especially against prostate and breast cancer.


Specific Compounds: Betulinic acid and ursolic acid.

Mechanisms of Action

They have demonstrated significant anti-cancer activities, inducing apoptosis, and inhibiting metastasis.

Ursolic acid also shows promise in muscle and bone health, potentially beneficial in conditions like osteoporosis and sarcopenia.

Potential Health Benefits & Medical Uses of Morus Alba (2023)

Antimicrobial Properties

Bacterial Infections

Specific Strains: Shows activity against Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, which are known to cause periodontal diseases.

Applications: Potential use in oral hygiene products or as a natural treatment for periodontitis. Its antibacterial action could help in reducing bacterial load and inflammation in the gums.

Antifungal Activity

Target Fungi: Effective against Trichophyton rubrum, a common cause of athlete’s foot, nail fungus, and ringworm.

Therapeutic Use: Could be formulated into creams or ointments for treating fungal skin infections. Its antifungal properties also make it a candidate for addressing dandruff and scalp fungal infections.

Anti-Inflammatory & Analgesic Effects

Inflammatory Conditions

Mechanism: Inhibits production of inflammatory cytokines and reduces nitric oxide synthesis in macrophages, key processes in the inflammatory response.

Potential Treatments: Could be beneficial in chronic inflammatory diseases like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

Pain Management

Analgesic Properties: The reduction in inflammation also contributes to its pain-relieving effects.

Clinical Implications: Could be developed into natural pain relief supplements or topical applications for conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and muscle soreness.

Antioxidant Activity

Cellular Protection: Its antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by oxidative stress, which is linked to aging and various chronic diseases.

Broader Use: Could be incorporated into health supplements aimed at improving overall wellness, anti-aging products, and treatments for oxidative stress-related conditions.

Antidiabetic Effects

Glucose Regulation: Inhibits enzymes critical in carbohydrate digestion, thus helping in controlling blood sugar levels, especially after meals.

Diabetes Management: Could be used as a supplement for diabetes management, potentially reducing the need for conventional antidiabetic medications.

Anti-Cancer Potential

Cytotoxicity Against Cancer Cells: Shows ability to induce apoptosis in cancer cells like hepatocellular carcinoma and breast cancer cells.

Complementary Cancer Therapy: Could be explored as an adjunct therapy in cancer treatment, potentially enhancing the efficacy of conventional treatments and mitigating side effects.

Cardiovascular Health

Cardioprotective Effects: Includes reducing myocardial damage and improving heart function.

Hypertension Management: The ability to regulate blood pressure makes it useful for managing hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.

Dermatological Applications

Skin Health: The anti-inflammatory and skin-whitening effects are beneficial for various skin conditions and cosmetic use.

Cosmetic Formulations: Potential for inclusion in creams and lotions targeting skin blemishes, aging, and inflammatory skin conditions.

Neuroprotective Effects

Cellular Protection in the Brain: Protects nerve cells from damage and inflammation, which are critical factors in neurodegenerative diseases.

Potential in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Emerging evidence suggests its use in preventing or slowing the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Gastrointestinal Health (GI)

Digestive Aid: The fiber content in Morus alba aids in improving digestive health, potentially alleviating conditions like constipation.

Gut Health Support: Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can support overall gut health, potentially benefiting conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Respiratory Benefits

Treatment for Coughs and Colds: Its traditional use in respiratory ailments is supported by its anti-inflammatory properties.

Respiratory Support: Could be beneficial in managing conditions like bronchitis, asthma, and allergic rhinitis, thanks to its ability to reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract.

Morus Alba: Safety, Toxicity, Dosing, & Usage Recommendations

Safety Profile

Morus alba, commonly known as white mulberry, is generally considered safe for consumption when used in moderation.

It has a long history of traditional use in various cultures, which supports its safety.

However, like any herbal remedy or supplement, it’s important to exercise caution and adhere to recommended dosages.

  • Allergies: Individuals with known allergies to mulberry or related plants should avoid Morus alba products to prevent allergic reactions.
  • Pregnancy & Lactation: While Morus alba is generally safe for most individuals, pregnant and lactating women should consult with a healthcare professional before using it as a supplement or in larger quantities.
  • Children: Morus alba supplements are typically not recommended for young children unless advised by a healthcare provider.


Morus alba is considered non-toxic when used within the recommended dosages.

However, excessive consumption of any herbal remedy or supplement can potentially lead to adverse effects.

It’s essential to be mindful of the following:

  • Digestive Upset: In some cases, consuming excessive amounts of Morus alba, particularly the leaves, may lead to mild digestive discomfort, such as diarrhea or upset stomach.
  • Interactions: Morus alba may interact with certain medications, especially those used to lower blood sugar levels. Individuals on medication for diabetes or other medical conditions should consult a healthcare professional before using Morus alba supplements.

Dosing Guidelines

Dosing guidelines for Morus alba can vary depending on the specific product and its intended use.

It’s crucial to follow product-specific recommendations and consult with a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

  • Leaves: Dried Morus alba leaves can be used to make teas. A typical dosage is 1-2 teaspoons of dried leaves per cup of boiling water, steeped for 5-10 minutes. This can be consumed up to 2-3 times a day.
  • Supplements: Morus alba supplements, such as capsules or extracts, should be taken according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Dosages may vary depending on the product’s concentration.
  • Tinctures: Tinctures of Morus alba are also available. Follow the dosage recommendations provided on the tincture product.
  • Consult a Healthcare Provider: Individuals with specific health conditions or those taking medications should consult a healthcare provider or herbalist for personalized dosing recommendations.

Usage Recommendations

Morus alba offers a range of potential health benefits and can be incorporated into one’s wellness routine in various ways.

  • Antioxidant Support: Consider incorporating Morus alba tea or supplements as part of an antioxidant-rich diet to support overall health and reduce oxidative stress.
  • Blood Sugar Management: Individuals with diabetes or those at risk of blood sugar spikes can use Morus alba to help regulate post-meal glucose levels. However, consult a healthcare provider for guidance on incorporating it into your diabetes management plan.
  • Skin Health: Morus alba’s skin-whitening and anti-inflammatory properties make it a potential ingredient in skincare products, such as creams and serums, for addressing skin blemishes and promoting a more even complexion.
  • Respiratory Health: Traditional use of Morus alba in treating respiratory conditions like coughs and colds may involve preparing teas or infusions for soothing effects on the respiratory tract.
  • Gut Health: Morus alba’s fiber content can aid in digestive health. Consider including it in a balanced diet to support gut health and regular bowel movements.
  • Consultation: Before starting any new herbal remedy or supplement regimen, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare provider for personalized recommendations and to ensure safety.

Future Research of Morus Alba

Given the extensive range of pharmacological activities of Morus alba, future research should focus on:

  • Clinical Trials: Conducting human clinical trials to validate the efficacy and safety of Morus alba in various therapeutic applications.
  • Pharmacokinetic Studies: Understanding the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of Morus alba compounds in humans.
  • Drug Development: Exploring the potential of Morus alba-derived compounds in developing new pharmacological drugs.
  • Genetic and Molecular Studies: Investigating the genetic basis of Morus alba’s pharmacological properties for targeted cultivation and enhanced medicinal benefits.

Takeaway: Morus Alba (White Mulberry) Benefits

Morus alba’s diverse range of bioactive compounds contribute to its potential as a versatile natural remedy.

Its antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antidiabetic, anti-cancer, cardioprotective, dermatological, neuroprotective, gastrointestinal, and respiratory benefits make it an invaluable resource in natural medicine.

Further research and clinical trials will be essential to fully understand and harness these benefits in various medical applications.

With its promising therapeutic potential, Morus alba holds a significant place in both traditional and modern medicine.


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