English: Mulberry leaves

Chinese: 桑叶

Parts used: Dried leaves

TCM category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): BitterSweet

Organ affinity: Liver Lung

Scientific name: Morus alba

Use of Sang Ye (mulberry leaves) 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: Remove impurities, cut in smaller pieces and dry

Dosage: 5 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Relieves the Exterior and clears Heat. Clears Heat in the Lung with associated Dryness. Clears the Liver for either Wind-Heat or Yin Deficient Heat. Cools the Blood.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Sang Ye may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Common cold Dry cough Headache Uveitis Impaired vision Sore throat Conjunctivitis

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those who have weakness and Cold in the Lungs.

Common TCM formulas in which Sang Ye is used*

Sang Ju Yin

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Disperses Wind. Stops coughing by invigorating Lung Qi. Clears Heat.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldInfluenza and others

Sang Ye is a king ingredient in Sang Ju Yin. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Sang Ju Yin, Sang Ye is cool and light. Its flavor is bitter and sweet. It can clear Heat from the Exterior. It helps stop coughing by removing the Lung Heat. 

Read more about Sang Ju Yin

Sang Xing Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears and disperses Dryness.

Conditions targeted*: Upper respiratory tract infectionsAcute bronchitis and others

Sang Ye is a king ingredient in Sang Xing Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Sang Xing Tang, Sang Ye light, acrid, cooling, and aromatic. It is effective at resolving Wind Heat from the Exterior and it can also help clearing Lung channel. It achieve these goals without hurting the Yin due to its moistening and sweet feature. Together with the other key herb Apricot seed, they invigorates and moistens the Lung Qi

Read more about Sang Xing Tang

Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang

Source date: 1658 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears dryness. Moistens the Lungs.

Conditions targeted*: InfluenzaAcute bronchitis and others

Sang Ye is a king ingredient in Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang, Sang Ye clears and disperses Dryness from the Lungs. It is said that the Mulberry leaves capture the Metal Qi of Autumn as they stay in the mulberry tree until after a frost. 

Read more about Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang

Sha Shen Mai Men Dong Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears and nourishes the Lungs and Stomach. Generates Body Fluids and moistens Dryness.

Conditions targeted*: PneumoniaBronchitis and others

Sang Ye is a king ingredient in Sha Shen Mai Men Dong Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Sha Shen Mai Men Dong Tang, Sang Ye clears Dry-Heat because of its acrid, cooling nature.

In combination with Sha Shen and Mai Men Dong, it vents the pathogenic Heat and expels the Dryness while enriching and nourishing the Body Fluids of the Lungs and Stomach.

Read more about Sha Shen Mai Men Dong Tang

Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang

Source date: Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Cools the Liver. Extinguishes Wind. Increases Fluids. Relaxes the sinews.

Conditions targeted*: EncephalitisMeningitis and others

Sang Ye is a deputy ingredient in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, Sang Ye dispels Wind and clears Heat from the Liver and Lungs.

Read more about Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Sang Ye's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Sang Ye belongs to the 'Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior' category. Herbs that release the Exterior aim to to treat the early stages of diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract, the eyes, the ears, the nose, the throat or the skin. TCM believes that External diseases such as colds or allergies can only invade the body if the External environment overwhelms our Wei Qi (the TCM version of the immune system). In order to counteract this invasion Cool/Acrid herbs aim to induce sweating by dilating our capillary pores so that they release more sweat. The belief is that this will expel the disease from the body and stop it from invading further.

As suggested by its category Sang Ye is Cold in nature. This means that Sang Ye 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 Ye can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Sang Ye also tastes Bitter and Sweet. 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 Ye 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 Sweet ingredients tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Sang Ye is thought to target the Liver and the Lung. In TCM 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. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.

Research on Sang Ye

Mulberry leaf powder exhibited antioxidant activity and mulberry leaf powder has potential to decrease serum triglyceride, low-density lipoprotein, and C-reactive protein levels in mild dyslipidemia patients without causing severe adverse reactions.1

An ethanolic extract of mulberry leaves had antihyperglycemic, antioxidant and antiglycation effects in chronic diabetic rats, which may suggest its utility as a food supplement for diabetics.2

Even though some patients experienced side effects such as mild diarrhea, dizziness or constipation and bloating, mulberry leaf tablet therapy is still capable and safe in reducing cholesterol levels in patients with mild dyslipidemia.3


1. Aramwit P, Supasyndh O, Siritienthong T, Bang N. (2013). Mulberry leaf reduces oxidation and C-reactive protein level in patients with mild dyslipidemia. Biomed Res Int. , 2013:787981. doi: 10.1155/2013/787981. Epub 2013 Jan 15.

2. Antihyperglycemic, antioxidant and antiglycation activities of mulberry leaf extract in streptozotocin-induced chronic diabetic rats Naowaboot J., Pannangpetch P., Kukongviriyapan V., Kongyingyoes B., Kukongviriyapan U. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 2009 64:2 (116-121)

3. Aramwit P, Petcharat K, Supasyndh O. (2011). Efficacy of mulberry leaf tablets in patients with mild dyslipidemia. Phytother Res. , 25(3):365-9. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3270.

Use of Sang Ye as food

Sang Ye is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Stuffed Mulberry Leaves.