For some strange reason, I’ve had more folks searching my web site for “white mulberry for diabetes. So, here’s my take on the topic.
According to the doctors of pharmacology at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, my favorite website on natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements), white mulberry is “possibly effective” for diabetes.
White mulberry is a small-to-medium sized shrub or tree. The fruit looks like a blackberry, but is white or pinkish violet in color, and said to be “insipid to taste.” White mulberry is native to China, but was introduced into the US during colonial times, in an effort to establish a silkworm industry.
There is some clinical research which shows that taking white mulberry might help reduce fasting blood glucose levels and peak blood glucose levels after a sucrose load in people with type 2 diabetes.
In one clinical study, powdered white mulberry leaf, 1 gram three times daily for 4 weeks reduced fasting blood sugar levels by 27%, compared to an 8% reduction with glyburide 5 mg daily.
However, and this is critical, NEITHER treatment significantly reduced hemoglobin A1C levels over the 4-week period. The A1C is a blood test that measures the average blood sugar over the previous three months. So, any treatment that does NOT lower the A1C may not be clinically useful.
This study and another have shown that single doses of 0.8-1.2 grams of powdered white mulberry leaf standardized to contain 1.5% of the constituent1-deoxynojirimycin, reduced the peak blood glucose level after ingestion of 50-75 grams of sucrose in healthy people and those with type 2 diabetes.
No significant side effects have been reported in the few clinical studies reported.
White mulberry leaf powder appears to have antihyperglycemic effects rather than hypoglycemic effects according to one study. In other words, it kept blood sugar from rising too high as opposed to lowering it too low.
Another study showed that healthy people who used 1.2 grams of the powder before each meal for 38 days did not experience hypoglycemia.
A caution to remember is that white mulberry might have additive effects with diabetes medications and potentially cause hypoglycemia. The NMCD tells prescribers and pharmacists, “Advise patients to closely monitor glucose levels after starting white mulberry. Dose adjustments to diabetes medications may be necessary.”
As far as the dose to try, the experts at NMCD say, “For diabetes, 1 gram of powdered white mulberry leaf three times daily has been used. Some studies have used a specific white mulberry leaf powder standardized to contain 1.5% 1-deoxynojirimycin.”