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Mulberries Treat Insomnia, Arthritis, and More

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 by: Melissa Sokulski
Tags: mulberries, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Mulberry (Morus) trees are ripe with fruit all across the US right now. These tasty berries are not only delicious and nutritious, but are used in Chinese medicine to enrich the blood and yin, treating conditions such as dizziness, tinnitus, premature graying of the hair and insomnia. (1)

Mulberry trees are easy to spot - full as they are of purple, pink or white berries; the purple stains on the sidewalk below make them even more difficult to miss. They love cities, and can be found growing out of cracks in sidewalks, as well as in lush soil in parks and along rivers. There are different varieties, with berries varying from dark purple, to light purple, pink and even white.

They are delicious eaten right off the tree, but can also be added to smoothies, or made into pies (both baked and raw.)

The dark purple mulberry looks like a small blackberry but tastes much sweeter, and the seeds within are not as large as those of the blackberry. The white mulberry (Morus albus) is actually prized as an herb in Chinese medicine, yet the berry is not the only part of the tree that is used.

Four different parts of the plants are used, in four different ways. Additionally, the feces of the silkworm, whose diet is mulberry leaves, are considered two more herbs (or medicinal substances.)

The mulberry itself is called sang shen, and enriches the blood and yin. It can be used to treat dizziness, tinnitus, insomnia and premature graying of hair. In Chinese medicine, the dose is 6 to 15 grams a day, and is often used in syrup form, taking advantage of the berry's natural sweetness. It is known to contain carotenes, thiamene, riboflavin, vitamin C, tannin, linoleic acid, and stearic acid. The berries can also be used to treat constipation (when due to blood deficiency.) (2)

Mulberry leaf is called sang ye, and is used to treat fever, headache, sore throat and cough. It is also used to clear red, sore, painful eyes, both internally and externally as an eye wash. (3)

Mulberry root bark is called sang bai pi and stops coughing and wheezing, while also promoting urination to reduce enema, especially of the face. In European herbal traditions, the root bark is used as a decoction, to get rid of tapeworms. (4)

Mulberry twig is sang zhi, and helps relieve arthritis in the joints of the arms. Clinical research has also shown an immune effect from drinking an infusion of mulberry twigs: patients with reduced immune function showed an increased rate of lymphocytes (white blood cells that defend the body against disease). (5)

Even silkworms - whose sole food is mulberry leaves, are used as an "herb" (or medicinal substance) in Chinese medicine. The silkworm body is known as jiang can, and is used to extinguish wind and stop tremors, especially childhood seizures and facial paralysis.(6) Silkworm feces - or can sha - is another medicinal substance, used as a tea or poultice, to treat itchy rashes (7)

Mulberries are not commonly found at groceries stores, or even farmer's markets. They are beginning to be touted as a "super food" in some circles, however, and are sold dried, year round.

This is one delicious fruit that is great to know about, both for enjoyment and for health. Grab a good guide book or take a walk with someone who can point out these trees to you; they are certainly worth knowing about, and are only abundant with berries for 4 to 6 weeks a year.


1. Bensky, p. 334
2. Bensky, p.335
3. Bensky, p.43
4. Lust, p.285
5. Bensky, p.161
6. Ibid, p. 430
7. Ibid, p.160


Bensky, Dan and Gamble, Andrew. Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica. Eastland Press, Inc. Seattle, WA. 1993

Elias, Thomas and Dykeman, Peter. Edible Wild Plants. Sterling Publishing Company. New York. 1990.

Lust, John. The Herb Book. Bantam Books. New York. 1974.

About the author

Melissa Sokulski is an acupuncturist, herbalist, and founder of the website Food Under Foot, a website devoted entirely to wild edible plants. The website offers plant descriptions, photographs, videos, recipes and more. Her new workbook, Wild Plant Ally, offers an exciting, hands-on way to learn about wild edible plants.
Melissa also runs The Birch Center for Health in Pittsburgh, PA, providing the best in complementary health care: acupuncture, therapeutic massage and herbal medicine.

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