Mulberry Leaf Extract May Lower Blood Sugar Spikes

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Plant extracts are common in Asian countries, especially in Chinese Traditional Medicine practices. Mulberry leaf is used in Asia to treat type 2 diabetes as it appears to lower fasting blood glucose and A1C concentrations in small studies. Another study has been conducted, this time on healthy subjects, to evaluate the potential of mulberry leaf extract on preventing blood sugar spikes that can increase the risk of insulin resistance and developing diabetes.

Korean researchers from Ewha Women’s University and the Seoul National University of Science and Technology recruited 50 healthy people that were randomly assigned to one of five groups. Four received a maltose powder drink, followed by varying amounts of mulberry leaf extract. The fifth group took the extract 30 minutes before the maltose beverage.

The effective doses appeared to be 2.5 to 5 grams of mulberry leaf aqueous extract. There was no difference in response whether the extract was taken before the beverage or at the same time.

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Morus alba, or White Mulberry, contains a compound known as 1-deoxynojirimycin or DNJ. This is believed to inhibit the activity of a carbohydrate-digesting enzyme called alpha-glucosidase. By slowing or stopping this enzyme, the digestion of starch and sugars are slowed, suppressing blood glucose spikes after eating.

Mulberry Leaf Extracts are available as a nutritional supplement in the United States, but the researchers warn that only the blood sugar-lowering effects are only observed when the whole mulberry leaf extract is used. The whole leaf may contain dietary fibers which may additionally slow the rate of gastric emptying and intestinal absorption. Plus, the whole leaf contains flavonoids, such as chlorogenic acid, rutin and quercetin, which have additional glucose-lowering effects.

As with all nutritional supplements, it is wise to discuss with your physician prior to using, especially if you are taking other medications for your diabetes or any other chronic health condition.

Journal References:
HI Chung, J Kim, JY Kim, O Kwon. “Acute intake of mulberry leaf aqueous extract affects postprandial glucose response after maltose loading: Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study” Journal of Functional Foods. Volume 5, Issue 3, Pages 1502-1506.
Mitchell Mudra BA et al. Influence of Mulberry Leaf Extract on the Blood Glucose and Breath Hydrogen Response to Ingestion of 75g Sucrose by Type 2 Diabetic and Control Subjects. Diabetes Care. May 2007, Pages 1272-1274.

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