How does it feel?
The taste is slightly aromatic, with a drying mouth feel.
All around the world the actions of traditional medicines were understood by their immediate sensory impacts. Click on each of Rubus’ key qualities below to learn more:
What can I use it for?
Raspberry is a common garden plant as the fruit is a well-known favourite. The leaves are also used in herbal medicineand can be harvested for this purpose in early summer.
Red raspberry leaf is a well-known and widely used herb for preparing the body for labour. It has a very long history of use for this reason. Additionally, it may help milk production, and aid the body in recovery from childbirth. For this, it is drunk as a tea. Because raspberry leaf is considered a uterine tonic, it may also help with heavy or painful menstruation.
The astringency of the leaf is due to its tannin content. Herbs with high tannins can be applied in cases of diarrhoea if there is no serious underlying cause. They can also be applied topically to wounds as a lotion or poultice to aid healing.
Into the heart of Rubus
Although raspberry leaf has long been used to support pregnancy, labour, and menstruation, there is little scientific study on its efficacy and safety for these purposes. However, the tradition of using the leaf can be considered a testament to its use as a safe remedy. It is still suggested by herbalists and midwives to those who are expecting as a protocol for preparing for birth, and so the tradition continues to thrive.
Raspberry fruit is also a delight, and has been used medicinally as well. Culpeper favoured the syrup of the fruit for digestive and dental complaints, for preventing miscarriage, and to prevent “sickness and retching”.
Although it has been a favourite of midwives for easing labour and encouraging milk production, red raspberry leaf has a history of being used for diarrhoea, where it was drunk as a decoction. It has also been used for wound care. The infusion was used as a wash for conjunctivitis, bleeding gums, and a lotion for ulcers and other wounds. It can also be applied as a gargle for sore throats. A poultice of the leaf, combined with slippery elm, is recommended by Grieve for wounds and burns, and to draw infection.
What practitioners say
Red raspberry leaf is best known as a safe and widely used partus praeparator, which Trickey recommends using in the last 5 months of pregnancy (2). Not only does this support the uterus in preparation for giving birth and ease the birth process, but it also helps in involuting the uterus after delivery, and the production of breast milk.
The leaf is also recommended in cases of heavy and painful menstrual bleeding, as well as the post-operation care of the uterus. This is due to its tonic and vulnerary action. It may also be applied in cases of vaginal discharge, although it is important to seek medical attention if discharge has changed.
The actions of raspberry leaf are parturient (or partus praeparator), it works as a uterine tonic, astringent, vulnerary for healing wounds, nutritive and uterine spasmolytic.
It is also sometimes used for the symptoms of endometriosis. In pregnancy it is usually effective for morning sickness and nausea that extends into the second trimester.
The tea can be made into a wash to aid the healing of wounds, burns, bleeding gums, tonsillitis, and conjunctivitis and acts as helpful as a mouthwash for inflammation of the mouth and throat. It is also useful as an eye lotion for conjunctivitis.
Did you know?
Red raspberry leaf was included in the British Pharmaceutical Codex, where it was indicated for heavy menstrual bleeding.
A tea for heavy menstruation
- 15g Raspberry leaf
- 15g Lady’s Mantle
- 20g Nettle leaf
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Mix 1 tsp of the blend with 1 cup boiling water and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Drink 1 cup three times daily.
Although there is a limited amount of information, no drug interactions or safety concerns have been highlighted.
As raspberry leaf contains tannins, its consumption may interfere with mineral absorption.
Western herbal medicine actions:
There have been remarkably few clinical trials for the efficacy and safety of red raspberry leaf, especially considering its popularity. A review in 2009 found only 12 studies that met the research criteria, where only 5 were clinical trials and the rest were either in vitro or animal studies.
One of the first studies, in 1941, was an animal study that found several constituents that were conducted on non-pregnant rabbits and cats. This research found that relaxed muscles were toned by the extract, while toned muscles were relaxed. This resulted in the conclusion that the effects of raspberry leaf were unpredictable. It was in 1970 after another animal study that researchers suggested that raspberry leaf may be beneficial as it produces more coordinated uterine contractions.
The few clinical studies have found very little statistical difference between those who had raspberry leaf treatment and those who had the placebo. One study found a statistical significance in a slightly shorter second stage of labour for the treatment group. This study also observed a lower rate of forceps delivery in the treatment group.
To see the references used in this summary check our downloadable Expert Herbal Reality Resource pdf
Preparation: Tea, tincture
Parts used: Lea
Tincture: 2-4ml three times per day (1:5)
Dried: 2 tsp with 1 cup boiling water, one to three times per day
- Flavonoids (up to 5%): kaempferol and quercetin
- Tannins (up to 10%): gallo- and ellagi-tannins
- Phenolic acids
- Volatile oil
- Minerals: iron, manganese, potassium, zinc, copper, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous
- vitamin C
- vitamins A, B, C, E