Morus Alba (Sang Bai Pi)
What is Morus Alba (Sang Bai Pi)?
Morus Alba (sang bai pi, 桑白皮), also known as White Mulberry Root-Bark, comes from Morus Alba, a fast-growing and small to medium-sized mulberry tree. Widely cultivated to feed silkworms used in the commercial production of silk, Morus Alba has a relatively short lifespan that is comparable to that of humans, though there are a few specimens known to be more than 250 years old. The tree is also known for the rapid release of its pollen that is launched at a speed that surpasses that of sound.
The typical Morus Alba is yellowish-brown and thin. It is usually collected in the winter by peeling it off the branches. The bark is then cleaned, cut into pieces, then dried under the sun for medicinal usage. Morus Alba can be used raw or fried with honey. The medicinal usage of Morus Alba in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be dated back to 659AD.
In TCM, Morus Alba falls under the category of ‘Herbs that cool the blood’. Such herbs can clear inflammatory and infectious conditions that are referred to as Internal Heat in TCM. These herbs usually possess both antibacterial and antiviral properties. Cold in nature, Sang Bai Pi can help individuals who have a Yang Excess or a Yin Deficiency, to restore a healthy yin-yang balance. Sweet in taste, the herb can slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body and has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, the herb targets the Lungs.
Functions and Benefits of Morus Alba (Sang Bai Pi)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Morus Alba has the following health benefits.
Morus Alba can purge the Lungs to relieve dyspnea and cough, especially if caused by the reversed flow of qi, heat or water retention in the Lungs. This herb is often combined with other herbs to treat different forms of dyspnea and cough. For example, for Lung-Yin Deficiency with internal Heat manifested as cough and dyspnea with short breath, bad breath, hectic fever or night sweat, Morus Alba is frequently combined with qi-tonifying, yin-nourishing and Lung-astringing herbs to tonify qi and stop coughing.
Morus Alba can induce diuresis and direct qi downwards to regulate fluid movements and disperse Dampness. The herb is thus indicated for oedema and dysuria. For obstruction of Lung qi and water retention with symptoms of oedema, sensation of fullness in the chest and dysuria, Morus Alba is often combined with Lung-ventilating and exterior-releasing herbs to enhance its effect.
Morus Alba is also believed to reduce blood pressure levels. The herb is indicated for hypertensive diseases caused by hyperactive Liver-yang.
Modern studies have discovered rich amounts of powerful polyphenols in Morus Alba. This finding suggests that the herb may help to reduce stress, depression and even lower the risk of cancer. Studies suggested that the herb contains compounds that may reduce the risk of certain cancers such as colorectal cancer. The polyphenols seem to suppress proteins that activate cancer cell production.
Morus Alba may also help to prevent or treat viral diseases such as herpes, and stop the growth of oral bacteria that causes cavities and gum diseases to promote dental health. Morus Alba is also used in some skin-whitening or skin-toning products for its possible benefits in managing skin problems. The herb may help to address skin conditions such as dark spots and blemishes. The herb can also promote the healing of scars by nourishing and enhancing the self-healing capabilities of skin.
Eating Morus Alba may help the body to regulate endocrine disorders and urinary problems. In addition, Morus Alba may help to relieve athlete’s foot as it is a good odour remover. You can boil the herb in hot water then soak the patient’s feet in the solution.
How to Use Morus Alba (Sang Bai Pi)
The recommended daily dosage of Sang Bai Pi is 10 – 15g, when decocted in water. Raw Sang Bai Pi is used to purge the Lungs, induce diuresis, calm the Liver and clear Fire. Stir-bake Sang Bai Pi with honey to treat coughs caused by Lung-Deficiency.
Whole slices of dried Sang Bai Pi can be found at many Asian markets and specialty stores. Some herbal stores also sell powdered Sang Bai Pi, which can be used in decoctions.
Cautions and Side Effects of Morus Alba (Sang Bai Pi)
Morus Alba should not be used by individuals who are experiencing coughing or wheezing caused by Wind-Cold in the Lungs. Also, the herb should not be used by individuals experiencing excessive urination.
Do not store Morus Alba in iron containers.
We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Morus Alba to your healthcare routine.
Here is a summary for Morus Alba (Sang Bai Pi):
- Herb name (Chinese): 桑白皮
- Herb name (Pin Yin): sāng bái pí
- Herb name (English): White Mulberry Root-Bark
- Herb name (Botanical): Cortex Mori
- Origin of species: Morus alba L.
- Part(s) of herb used: Root bark
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Anhui, Henan, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Hunan
- Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet; Cold; Administrates the Lung Meridian
- Actions: Relieves coughs with yellow or sticky oral discharge; Eases mild water retention symptoms in the body
Chang, L. W., Juang, L. J., Wang, B. S., Wang, M. Y., Tai, H. M., Hung, W. J., … & Huang, M. H. (2011). Antioxidant and antityrosinase activity of mulberry (Morus alba L.) twigs and root bark. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 49(4), 785-790. [Accessed on 22nd December 2022]
Du, J., He, Z. D., Jiang, R. W., Ye, W. C., Xu, H. X., & But, P. P. H. (2003). Antiviral flavonoids from the root bark of Morus alba L. Phytochemistry, 62(8), 1235-1238.[Accessed on 22nd December 2022]
Wei, H., Zhu, J. J., Liu, X. Q., Feng, W. H., Wang, Z. M., & Yan, L. H. (2016). Review of bioactive compounds from root barks of Morus plants (Sang-Bai-Pi) and their pharmacological effects. Cogent Chemistry, 2(1), 1212320.[Accessed on 22nd December 2022]
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