What is Mulberry Fruit?
Mulberry Fruit (sang shen, 桑椹) refers to a type of beneficial berries that grow on Mulberry trees. These trees are traditionally grown for their leaves as they are the only food that silkworms eat. In China, every part of the Mulberry plant has its unique and diverse therapeutic uses. The berries are bottled as a beverage to enhance immunity and promote good health. The bark is honey-fried to enhance its functions in stopping coughing and wheezing. Good quality bark is usually thick, powdery and white. The leaves are also used as an external wash for eye problems.
Mulberry Fruit, usually black, white, or red, are sought after for their health benefits. Centuries ago, the Romans ate Mulberry Fruits at feasts. Mulberry Fruit was included among the large list of useful and medicinal plants ordered by Charlemagne (812 AD) to be cultivated on the imperial farm. Today, Mulberry Fruit is often made into wine, fruit juice, tea, jam, canned foods, or dried and eaten as a snack.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Mulberry Fruit falls under the category of ‘Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency’. Such herbs can help to replenish one’s ‘Four Treasures’ (qi, blood, yin, yang). Cold in nature, Mulberry Fruit can help individuals who have too much Heat in their body, such as those who are experiencing Yang Excess or Yin Deficiency, to restore a healthy yin-yang balance.
Bitter and sour, Mulberry Fruit has a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. Also, the herb can help with digestion and restrain abnormal discharges of body fluids from the body. In particular, Mulberry Fruit targets the Heart, the Kidneys and the Liver.
Functions and Benefits of Mulberry Fruit
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Mulberry Fruit includes the following health benefits:
Mulberry Fruit can tonify the Liver and the Kidneys. In particular, the herb tonifies blood and enriches yin to address symptoms such as dizziness, tinnitus, insomnia, weakness in joints, blurred vision and premature graying of hair. Also, it can promote the production of body fluids such as saliva to moisten and relieve Dryness. This means that Mulberry Fruit can also lubricate the Intestines to address constipation caused by Blood Deficiency.
Modern studies suggest that Mulberry Fruit may be beneficial against several chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Not only can Mulberry Fruit lower blood cholesterol levels and improve the ratio between LDL and HDL cholesterol, the herb can also reduce blood sugar levels, decrease oxidative stress, lower the risk of cancer, and prevent fatty liver disease.
As Mulberry Fruit contains a good amount of dietary fibre that the body needs for facilitating proper digestion, it can help to relieve digestive issues such as bloating and stomach cramps. Rich in antioxidants, Mulberry Fruit can improve the functions of the blood vessels by dilating them, which regulates blood pressure. Also, Mulberry Fruit is rich in iron, which encourages the production of red blood cells.
Other than the above Mulberry Fruit benefits, the herb can also improve our immunity and build strong bone tissues. It may even help to prevent bone disorders such as osteoporosis and arthritis. Mulberry Fruit also helps to promote brain health and liver health.
How to Use Mulberry Fruit
The recommended dosage of Mulberry Fruit is 10 – 15g. Mulberry Fruit can be eaten raw, or consumed in other forms such as pill, powder or paste. Alternatively, Mulberry Fruit is also used to make various foods such as jams, pies and a variety of other food products.
Fresh Mulberry Fruits are harder to find in supermarkets, as compared to other common berries. They can be found at certain health food stores, while supplements containing Mulberries may be found in herbal stores.
If you would like to bake a delicious treat with Mulberry Fruit, these treats can usually be stored for two or three days in the refrigerator, if covered in plastic wrap. You can try adding Mulberry Fruit to a bowl of cereal or oatmeal, blend Mulberry Fruit with other berries to make a smoothie, use Mulberry Fruit as a topping for your ice cream or cake, or replace blueberries with Mulberry Fruits in your muffins.
Cautions and Side Effects of Mulberry Fruit
Mulberry Fruit should not be used by individuals who have diarrhoea or Spleen Deficiency. Also, individuals who are sensitive to birch pollen may have allergic reactions to Mulberry Fruit too.
While eating Mulberry Fruit on a moderate basis is beneficial for health, eating too much Mulberry Fruit may cause fatal consequences as it can reduce blood sugar levels to a dangerously low level.
Also, using Mulberry Fruit Extract on skin may increase the risk of hypoglycaemia and hinder the absorption of carbohydrates and triacylglycerol.
Here is a summary for Mulberry Fruit:
- Herb name (Chinese): 桑椹
- Herb name (Pin Yin): sāng shēn
- Herb name (English): Mulberry Fruit
- Herb name (Botanical): Fructus Mori
- Origin of species: Morus alba L.
- Part(s) of herb used: Fruit
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Hunan
- Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet, sour; Cold; Administrates the Liver and Kidney Meridians
- Actions: Eases symptoms related to premature hair greying, chronic insomnia, joint weakness and blurred vision; Relieves constant thirst and constipation due to lack of intestinal fluids leading to dry hard stools
Weng, W., & Chen, J. (1996). The eastern perspective on functional foods based on traditional Chinese medicine. Nutrition reviews, 54(11), S11. [Accessed on 30th October 2022]
Xiao, E., & Luo, L. (2018). Alternative therapies for diabetes: a comparison of western and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) approaches. Current Diabetes Reviews, 14(6), 487-496.[Accessed on 30th October 2022]
Zhang, H., Ma, Z. F., Luo, X., & Li, X. (2018). Effects of mulberry fruit (Morus alba L.) consumption on health outcomes: A mini-review. Antioxidants, 7(5), 69.[Accessed on 30th October 2022]
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