Diabetes and Mulberry Bush

The US Food and Drug Administration recently called for Type 2 diabetes drugs to be more rigorously controlled because of concerns about their risk of causing heart problems. However, an extract of mulberry could offer an alternative for managing Type 2 diabetes, according to researchers working with San Diego company Neuliven Health to market Glucocil.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% of all diabetes cases in the USA. The disease, formerly known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes, is usually an adult-onset disease although obesity in young people is leading to more incidences of the disease earlier in life. It is characterized by raised blood sugar levels and metabolic changes that cause organ damage, and in particular affect the cardiovascular system detrimentally.

“The two largest diabetes clinical studies recently published in New Eng. J. Med. further suggested that hypoglycemic drugs increase cardiovascular risks in diabetic patients,” explains Litao “Lee” Zhong. It is not commonly unknown that most hypoglycemic drugs also cause weight gain. He suggests that an alternative treatment may be found in mulberry leaf extract.

Mulberry leaf has been used commonly for generations in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and some Indian foods. Previously, Zhong, of NatureGen Inc, San Diego, CA, and colleagues, Julie Furne and Michael Levitt of the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, have confirmed—in the laboratory at least—that extracts of black, green, and mulberry teas could interfere with carbohydrate and triacylglycerol absorption via their ability to inhibit the enzymes ?-amylase, ?-glucosidase, sodium-glucose transporters, and pancreatic lipase.

“Mulberry leaf is a natural ?-glucosidase inhibitor, these compounds do not lower blood sugar levels, they reduce and delay the abrupt elevation of blood sugars after a meal and therefore stabilize blood sugar levels,” Zhong explains. “?-glucosidase inhibitor drugs, such as acarbose, are found to reduce diabetic cardiovascular risks, be good for weight management, and prevent pre-diabetics from becoming Type 2 diabetics.”

Subsequently, clinical trials of a proprietary mulberry leaf extract demonstrated a significant effect on lowering blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetes patients. The effect helps the patients achieve a healthier diet and lifestyle. The latest results published in Diabetes Care reported an average 44% reduction in peak post-meal blood sugar elevations.

Now, the mulberry leaf extract is to be marketed as Glucocil, a product comprising a rather complex mixture of ingredients: mulberry leaf extract, Cissus sicyoides (Insulina) leaf extract, ?-lipoic acid, C. quadrangularis extract, banaba leaf extract, chromium polynicotinate, vitamin B1 and B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12. It is intriguing that a chromium salt is included in this formulation as such compounds have for many years been studied as possible alternatives to insulin.

“Chromium was not included in the extracts used in our published clinical studies (or the efficacy tests),” Zhong told Reactive Reports. “The ingredients used in the final Glucocil formula have records of many years’ safe human usage.” He points out that the product advice is that potential users discuss the product and health with their healthcare provider before using the product. Consumers should also check their blood sugar levels when they use the product.

“Last month [June 2008], we did a survey of 170 consumers who told us they are Type 2 diabetics and requested a free product sample from us,” adds Zhong. “What we found was that in 80% of these consumers, post-meal blood sugar levels were improved, and in 30% of the population, appetites were suppressed.”

Mudra, M., Ercan-Fang, N., Zhong, L., Furne, J., & Levitt, M. (2007). Influence of Mulberry Leaf Extract on the Blood Glucose and Breath Hydrogen Response to Ingestion of 75 g Sucrose by Type 2 Diabetic and Control Subjects Diabetes Care, 30 (5), 1272-1274 DOI: 10.2337/dc06-2120

Am J Clin Nutr, 84:551–55, 2006