The mulberry tree grows in Asia, and its leaves are said to aid weight loss. Distributors extract something called mulberry zuccarin from the leaves and turn it into a diet pill. The zuccarin is supposed to block the way your body absorbs carbohydrates. The manufacturers claim this regulates your blood sugar and stops cravings for sweet and fattening food. However, mulberry leaf extract is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and it has numerous detractors.
The mulberry tree is native to China and Japan and has 11 species. The most commonly used tree for making mulberry leaf zuccarin is the Japanese mulberry tree. For thousands of years, mulberry leaf has been used for medicinal purposes. The Chinese use the leaf for infections and digestive complications, and for anti-aging and anti-inflammation. The ancient Japanese brewed a tea from mulberry leaves and used it as an overall health drink. It is sold as powders, pills, capsules or dried leaves at certain health or herbal stores, apothecaries and Asian markets.
A compound found within the mulberry leaf called 1-deoxynojirimycin, or DNJ, stimulates weight loss, according to Dr. Ray Sahelian, a nutritionist and author based in Los Angeles. Sahelian says DNJ, also known as moranoline, hinders the enzyme that digests carbohydrates in your intestines. This means the starchy, carbohydrate-rich foods you eat, like bread, rice, pasta and potatoes, do not turn to glucose in your body and are simply flushed out. One distributor, GlobalHealthAndFitness.com, claims this causes you to absorb 35 percent less of the calories you consume, resulting in weight loss. The lack of glucose in your system supposedly lowers your blood sugar levels, making you less hungry.
Mulberry leaf is used in Asia to treat diabetes, because it allegedly balances your blood sugar levels. In a study published in the journal "Diabetes Care" in 2007, researcher Mitchell Mundra claims mulberry leaf lowers blood glucose levels and obstructs your absorption of sucrose by 21 percent. Medical News Today reports a 2008 University of Minnesota study that concluded mulberry balances your blood sugar levels and inhibits carbohydrate absorption, meaning it shows significant promise for 28 million Americans living with diabetes. The mulberry leaf zuccarin also contains amino acids, vitamin C and antioxidants, which all improve your overall health.
Mulberry leaf has not been tested by the FDA for safety and there is little scientific evidence to back up the claims of its distributors. Science Based Pharmacy calls the weight loss claims unproven and implausible. Mundra explains that the zuccarin extract contains numerous constituents, and this increases the possibility of side effects. One company that manufactures zuccarin, New Nordic, advises diabetes sufferers to avoid the product. If you decide you want to take mulberry leaf, consult your doctor first.
According to NutritionalWellness.com, the average mulberry leaf dosage is 4.5 g to 15 g. The website also claims there are no known side effects associated with taking mulberry leaf. The tablets or powders are free from salt, sugar, yeast, gluten or soy and are suitable for vegans.