The Origin and Health Benefits of the Mulberry Leaf
Recently helped translate an article downloaded from a Japanese website, it boast some interesting claims involving the use of Mulberry leaves. How the plant may successfully helps deter ill effects of genetically predisposed maladies and prevents against the onset of certain adult diseases associated with life changes and eating habits.
What Is Mulberry Leaf?
There are 10 to 16 species of Mulberry. It is a deciduous flowering fruit tree in the family known as Moraceae. Essentially losing its fruit after sufficient maturity, it is native to warm and subtropical climates growing naturally in regions such as the Americas, China, Japan, and Central Asia. Its place of origin is believed to be the area between Northern China and the Korean peninsula. Due to its popularity the tree was subsequently introduced to Japan in the third century.
In China, Mulberry Leaves have been treasured as an herbal medicine since ancient times. China’s oldest book of remedies, “Huang Di Ba Shi Yi Nan Jing” or “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of the Difficulties”, a book devoted to Chinese Medical Practice is the bible for all herbal medicine and records the plant’s first use. It refers to the dry Mulberry leaf tea, “Sang ye cha” or godly hermits’ tea, “Qian cheng de yin shi cha” as a miracle remedy, an immortality medicine. Stating it was used as a cure for coughs, nutritional fortification and paralysis. Interesting enough the Chinese character for Mulberry Tree is? The symbol means “tree for the silk worm”. It also has the same meaning in Japanese.
The implication of this Asiatic linguistic symbol referencing the Mulberry tree can be found in the advent of the contemporary textile industry. For example, in 1848 the Mulberry tree was introduced in Hawaii in connection with silkworm production. Its leaves were cultivated as a food source for raising silkworms and the epistemology of this Chinese character is no less significant.
Active Ingredient in Mulberry Leaves The leaves have some obvious benefits for humans. They contain various minerals and extracts, such as beta-carotene, GABA-1, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, chlorophyll, vitamin C, B1, B2, B6, A and they are rich in fiber.
From this you can see Mulberry is very fortified with minerals and due to the high levels of active ingredients it has prompted a bevy of research. For example the leaves contain six times more calcium than green tea, 25 times more than milk and 40 times more than cabbage. With respect to iron it contains 2.5 times more than green tea and 10 times more than spinach.
In addition, Mulberry leaves are a great source of fiber. They contain the same level of fiber as burdock roots and osmunda (“zenmai” in Japanese). The ingestion ratio of the leaves’ fiber is 8 soluble to 45 insoluble. Furthermore, in 100g of Mulberry dried leaves you can find 230mg of gamma-amino acid, which is believed to lower blood pressure. 100g of the leaves also contains 46mg of sitosterol which controls the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines, while the same amount of green tea provides 14mg of sitosterol. Because of the high source of mineral content Mulberry leaves are expected to become a super food material in the near future with preventative effects against adult diseases such as hypertension.
What Is DNJ (1-Deoxynojirimycin)? Of particularly interest is an ingredient called 1-deoxynojirimycin (DNJ) presumably it can only be found in Mulberry leaves. The chemical structure of 1-deoxynojirimycin is very similar to glucose. If the oxygen portion in the chemical structure of glucose were to be replaced with nitrogen, the composition would be exactly the same as the chemical makeup of DNJ. For this reason DNJ inhibits disaccharides (alpha-glucosidase) and can reduce the intestinal absorption of the amount in the body essentially helping to stabilize the level of sugar in the blood.
Plainly speaking the intake of disaccharides, (alpha-glucosidase / sugar) is immediately dissolved and broken down and absorbed by the body. But if DNJ is introduced into the body and because of its similarities to glucose, the DNJ preferentially gets absorbed. During the process, the excess glucose moves to the colon without being broken down into monosaccharide and does not get absorbed into the blood. Instead it gets discharged. In effect this maximizes the body’s absorption of any remaining nutrition because disaccharides tend to displace or inhibit the body’s ability to absorb needed nutrients. This is why Mulberry leaves particularly the substrate DNJ is now highly recognized as a promising herb which may help controls carbohydrate absorption.
For more information on this subject, see article title, Experiments Demonstrating the Benefits of the Mulberry Leaf, by Abron Toure