What Is White Mulberry?

This plant has been studied for its use in diabetes and cholesterol

White mulberry powder and capsules

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

White mulberry is a leafy tree with the scientific name of Morus alba. This tree is native to China, Japan, and India but is now a naturalized plant worldwide. White mulberry is considered an invasive species in the United States. That means it contributes to the destruction of established natural habitats.

White mulberry contains bioactive compounds, which are also known as phytochemicals. White mulberry may work through these bioactive plant chemicals. So, white mulberry might have different properties and activities depending on the specific plant chemical.

This article discusses what you should know about white mulberry—its potential uses, side effects, and interactions.

Dietary supplements are not regulated like drugs in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. Choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLabs, or NSF when possible. However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn't mean they are necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and check in about potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredients (s): Sterols, glycosides, saponins, alkaloids (e.g., 1-deoxynojirimycin), phenolic compounds—like terpenoids, flavonoids (e.g., quercetin, rutin, isoquercetin, etc.), and tannins.
  • Alternative name(s): White mulberry, mulberry, Russian mulberry, silkworm mulberry, Morus alba, tut
  • Legal status: Banned in some regions of the United States (it's an invasive species).
  • Suggested dose: May vary based on the plant part used, dosage form, and medical condition.
  • Safety considerations: Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and children. White mulberry may also interact with prescription medications, herbs, and supplements.

Uses of White Mulberry

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Like many plant-based medicines, people may use white mulberry for several different reasons. But there are several studies assessing white mulberry for the following potential uses.

Diabetes

Several clinical studies suggest that mulberry leaves may affect blood glucose (sugar) levels. And this effect seems to be due to 1-deoxynojirimycin (DNJ), one of the plant chemicals in white mulberry.

You may experience lower post-prandial (after-meal) blood sugar within 30 minutes of taking a dose of DNJ-enriched mulberry leaves. A higher amount of DNJ was suggested after eating complex carbohydrates. Examples of foods with complex carbohydrates include:

  • Legumes—like peas and beans
  • Starchy vegetables—like potatoes
  • Whole-grain and fiber—like oatmeal

Participants in a small study also improved insulin with a DNJ dose with every meal. Insulin is a naturally-occurring hormone in your body. It generally helps your muscles and fat take in sugar from your diet to use or store as energy. In diabetes, your body may not be making enough insulin or may not be responding to this hormone. So, there is a build-up of sugar in your body.

Results from another small study also suggested improved after-meal blood sugar levels with DNJ dosed three times daily for 12 weeks.

While these clinical trials are promising, large, well-designed studies are still necessary. Also, it's essential to focus on eating a balanced diet and getting exercise to improve insulin sensitivity.

Check with your healthcare provider before taking any herbs or supplements if you have diabetes and/or are taking insulin or other blood-sugar-lowering medications. Significant side effects can occur when taking blood-sugar-lowering herbs or supplements with diabetes medications.

High Cholesterol

A small study found DNJ-containing mulberry leaf supplement tablets taken three times daily before meals reduced total cholesterol, triglyceride, and low-density lipoprotein ("bad cholesterol") levels in 23 adults with dyslipidemia (abnormal blood cholesterol). High-density lipoprotein ("good cholesterol") also improved. Although the findings were positive, they were limited by a few factors.

An animal study found mulberry leaf extract lowered triglyceride levels. And a combination of mulberry leaf extract and mulberry fruit extract also lowered fasting (before-meal) blood sugar levels. It decreased weight gain in mice with obesity from a high-fat diet. This animal study suggests that mulberry may aid in treating obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of medical conditions that may raise your risk of heart-related problems (e.g., heart attack) and stroke. These medical conditions may include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal blood cholesterol, and excess weight.

Like the studies for high blood sugar, these cholesterol-related studies are also somewhat promising. But large and well-designed human studies are still needed to confirm these results.

Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects

According to a review, mulberry leaves may have some antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, particularly in people with mildly high cholesterol. For example, a small study suggested that DNJ-containing mulberry leaf tablets taken three times daily may lower 8-isoprostane and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels.

High amounts of 8-isoprostane are typically linked to oxidative injury and cell damage inside the body. On the other hand, CRP levels are high when there is inflammation (swelling) in the body.

And over time, high cholesterol is usually connected to an inflammatory medical condition called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the hardening and narrowing of your arteries, which may increase your risk of heart-related problems—like heart attacks.

Like white mulberry's other potential uses, large and well-designed studies are still needed to confirm this plant's effects on oxidative stress and inflammation.

White mulberry capsules
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

What Are the Side Effects of White Mulberry?

Like many medications and herbs, side effects are possible with white mulberry.

Common Side Effects

There is limited information about white mulberry's safety. However, according to several clinical trials, common side effects may include:

Severe Side Effects

According to a report, it might be possible to experience severe dehydration from gastroenteritis (stomach flu) caused by using white mulberry.

Severe allergic reaction is another serious side effect possible with any medication. Symptoms may include breathing difficulties, itchiness, and rash. 

Call 911 and get medical help immediately if you're having a severe allergic reaction or any of your symptoms feel life-threatening.

Precautions

Your healthcare provider may advise against using white mulberry if any of the following applies to you:

  • Severe allergic reaction: If you have a severe allergic reaction to white mulberry or its components (ingredients), you shouldn't take this medication.
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding: With only a small number of human studies on white mulberry, there is limited effectiveness and safety information—like in pregnancy and breastfeeding. So, caution is generally recommended. To discuss the benefits and risks of white mulberry while pregnant or breastfeeding, reach out to your healthcare provider.
  • Children: Limited effectiveness and safety information exists for white mulberry's use in children. So, caution is typically recommended. If you're considering white mulberry for your child, have a conversation with your child's healthcare provider (pediatrician) first.
  • Older adults over 65: With only a few human studies on white mulberry, there is little effectiveness and safety information—including in older adults. Moreover, some older adults may be more sensitive to medication side effects. For this reason, take white mulberry with caution.

Dosage: How Much White Mulberry Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

While there are some small studies on white mulberry, larger and well-designed studies are still needed. For this reason, there are no guidelines on the appropriate dosage to take white mulberry for any condition.

But in general, studies have used mulberry leaf supplement pills three times daily with meals. The pills may vary in the quantity of 1-deoxynojirimycin (DNJ), a plant chemical in white mulberry. The recommended DNJ amount may vary depending on the intended potential benefit or use.

If you want to try white mulberry, talk with your healthcare provider first. And follow their suggestions or the label instructions.

What Happens If I Take Too Much White Mulberry?

While there are a limited number of studies on white mulberry in humans, this plant is typically linked to minimal toxicity in humans and animals.

A case report reported that white mulberry might have caused severe dehydration from gastroenteritis. And in this case report, severe dehydration did result in death.

Interactions

Use caution when taking white mulberry with the following:

  • Cholesterol medications: White mulberry may lower your cholesterol. This may have additive effects or increase the side effects of your cholesterol-lowering medications, such as Lipitor (atorvastatin).
  • Diabetes medications: White mulberry may lower your blood sugar levels. This may have additive effects with your diabetes medications—like insulin. If your blood sugar is too low, symptoms may include excessive tiredness and sweating.

It is essential to carefully read a supplement's ingredient list and nutrition facts panel to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.

How to Store White Mulberry

Storage instructions may vary for different products. Carefully read the directions and packaging label on the container. Keep your medications tightly closed and out of the reach of children and pets, ideally locked in a cabinet or closet. Try to store your medications in a cool and dry place.

Discard after one year or as indicated on the packaging. Avoid pouring unused and expired medicines down the drain or in the toilet. Visit the FDA's website to know where and how to discard all unused and expired medicines. You can also find disposal boxes in your area.

Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any questions about the best ways to dispose of your medications or supplements.

Similar Supplements

Several other herbs and supplements may impact blood sugar or cholesterol levels. Be sure to discuss the use of any of these with your healthcare provider to prevent any unintended additive effects.

In general, mulberry is in the Morus genus. This Morus group consists of 10 species of trees—like the white mulberry. The following Morus species may also have similar potential uses as the white mulberry:

  • Morus nigra (black mulberry)
  • Morus indica

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the most common dosage form for white mulberry?

    White mulberry is available in several different dosage forms—with tablets and liquid being the most common.

  • Is white mulberry available from manufacturers in the United States?

    Yes. Several U.S. manufacturers make white mulberry products.

  • Is the wood of the white mulberry tree toxic?

    Yes. The white mulberry wood may be toxic.

    Prolonged exposure to white mulberry wood might be linked to the following symptoms: allergic reaction, coughing, headache, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, and skin irritation. But these symptoms usually go away within 24 hours. Seek immediate medical attention if you believe you or someone is having a life-threatening reaction to white mulberry.

  • How do I take white mulberry safely?

    To safely take plant-based medications—like white mulberry—inform your healthcare providers and pharmacists about any medication changes. This includes over-the-counter (OTC), herbal, natural medications, and supplements.
    They can help prevent possible interactions and side effects. They can also ensure that you’re giving white mulberry a good trial at appropriate doses.

Sources of White Mulberry & What to Look For

Several sources of white mulberry exist.

Food Sources of White Mulberry

White mulberry is naturally available as a leafy tree with fruit. You may eat mulberry fruits as fresh fruits and jams. You may also turn the fruit into drinkable fruit juices. And the leaves can be brewed into tea.

Mulberry has played a role in different food industries; you may find it in the following:

  • Alcoholic beverages, such as sake and wine
  • Chocolate
  • Coloring agent in yogurt
  • Fruit jam
  • Jelly
  • Juice
  • Pasta
  • Pastries
  • Syrup
  • Vinegar

White Mulberry Supplements

White mulberry is available in various forms, including capsules and tablets. If you have difficulties swallowing pills, white mulberry is also available in the following dosage forms:

  • Drink packets
  • Liquid
  • Powder

There are also vegetarian options. The specific product you choose will depend on your preference and what you hope to get in terms of effects. Each product may work a bit differently, depending on the form. So, following your healthcare provider's recommendations or label directions is essential.

Summary

White mulberry is a leafy tree with fruit. This plant may have some potential to lower blood sugar and cholesterol. It may also have some antioxidant and anti-inflammation effects.

While white mulberry is generally recognized as safe, it's not without side effects. There are also potential interactions to consider. And white mulberry wood can be toxic.

More research with larger and well-designed clinical trials is still needed to study white mulberry's effectiveness and safety. Before taking white mulberry, reach out to your pharmacist or healthcare provider to help you safely achieve your health goals.

21 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Ross Phan, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP, BCPS
Ross is a writer for Verywell with years of experience practicing pharmacy in various settings. She is also a board-certified clinical pharmacist and the founder of Off Script Consults.