The luscious red fruit of the raspberry plant is often most attractive at first, but the overlooked leaves have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Tea is made by drying the green leaves of the plant then steeping them in hot water. It is best to use organic leaves in order to avoid any contamination from chemical pesticide or fertilizer residue. Drinking raspberry leaf tea may ease labor, soothe sore throats, reduce the symptoms of diarrhea and even aid in treating anemia. As with any supplement, get advice from your health care provider first, then consider adding this natural and inexpensive remedy to your tea collection and medicine cabinet.
According to a study published in the "British Journal of Pharmacology," red raspberry leaves may be beneficial in toning the uterus muscle and coordinating contractions during labor. A strong uterus facilitates an easier labor and helps retain the uterus' shape after birth. A study published in the "Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health" found that women who consumed red raspberry leaf during pregnancy had an overall shorter duration of labor than those who didn't, and forceps were needed less often during the birthing.
Raspberry leaf tea is used as an astringent because of a compound in the leaf called tannins. Medically, an astringent is a substance that causes the tissues and openings of the body to constrict, reducing the flow of bodily fluids and slowing bleeding. According to the University of Michigan Health System, these astringent properties are the reason that drinking raspberry leaf tea may ease diarrhea and soothe sore throats. Ingesting astringents reduces swelling, which may be the reason for relief of symptoms.
Sue Sierralupe, a certified master herbalist and author of the website "The Practical Herbalist," suggests benefits of using raspberry leaves for women's health. Naturally occurring compounds in the leaf are thought to help regulate hormones. Sierralupe claims that consuming red raspberry leaf may alleviate symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome caused by hormonal fluctuations. She also notes that it could lessen abdominal cramping in women.
Red raspberry leaves have been suggested in herbal and traditional medicine for centuries to treat anemia. According to Dr. David Frawley, author of the traditional Indian medicine book "Ayurvedic Healing," the leaves are high in both iron and vitamin C. This combination is useful because vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron. Sierralupe adds that the leaves also contain magnesium, an essential mineral that increases concentration of red blood cells and hemoglobin.
- British Journal of Pharmacology: Raspberry Leaf Tea, A New Aspect to an Old Problem.
- Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health: Raspberry Leaf in Pregnancy, Its Safety and Efficacy in Labor.
- The Practical Herbalist: Raspberry, the Female Toner
- Healing with Whole Foods, Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition; Paul Pitchford.
- Ayurvedic Healing, A Comprehensive Guide; Dr. David Frawley.
- University of Michagin Health System: Red Raspberry
Erica Kannall is a registered dietitian and certified health/fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine. She has worked in clinical nutrition, community health, fitness, health coaching, counseling and food service. She holds a Bachelor of Science in clinical dietetics and nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh.