English: Mulberry Fruits

Chinese: 桑椹

Parts used: Dried fruit-spike

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): BitterSour

Organ affinity: Heart Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Morus alba

Use of Sang Shen (mulberry fruits) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Harvest the fruits, remove impurities, wash, soak in water and dry.

Dosage: 9-30 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies the Blood, nourishes Yin and engenders body fluid. Lubricates the Intestines.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Sang Shen may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Tinnitus Constipation Dizziness Premature graying Diabetes Insomnia

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with diarrhea due to Spleen Deficiency.

Key TCM concepts behind Sang Shen's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Sang Shen belongs to the 'Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Yin tonics have a heavy, moist nature. They either nourish the Kidneys and Liver or moisten the Lungs and Stomach. Extreme Yin Deficiency often translates into a 'burn-out', unfortunately more and more common among people today. It is worth mentioning that another great remedy against Yin Deficiency is a lot of rest and sleep; no herb will ever be able to replace this!

Furthermore Sang Shen is Cold in nature. This means that Sang Shen typically helps people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition Sang Shen can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Sang Shen also tastes Bitter and Sour. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like Sang Shen tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Sour ingredients help with digestion and restrain abnormal discharges of Fluids from the body, such as diarrhea or heavy sweating.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Sang Shen is thought to target the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver. In addition to regulating Blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. The Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. The Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on Sang Shen

The freeze-dried powder of mulberry (Morus alba L.) fruit has hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects.1

Mulberry fruits have neuroprotective effects in in vitro and in vivo.2


1. Hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects of mulberry (Morus alba L.) fruit in hyperlipidaemia rats Yang X., Yang L., Zheng H. Food and Chemical Toxicology 2010 48:8-9 (2374-2379)

2. Mulberry fruit protects dopaminergic neurons in toxin-induced Parkinson's disease models. Kim H.G., Ju M.S., Shim J.S., Kim M.C., Lee S.H., Huh Y., Kim S.Y., Oh M.S. The British journal of nutrition 2010 104:1 (8-16)

Use of Sang Shen as food

Sang Shen is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Mulberry Pudding Cake.