Raspberry, Rubus idaeus, is a slender shrub that grows to about 6 feet high, with arching stems; not as pokey and more delicate than its cousin, the blackberry, R. fruticosus. A member of the Rosaceae (Rose) family. Leaves have 3-7 leaflets that are light green, with a silvery underside; the woody stems are bare during the winter. Has white flowers in spring and red berries in summer to fall. Wild raspberry is usually found growing along the edges of woods and forests. Found throughout North America, Northern Europe, and Northern Asia.
Like blackberries, raspberries are not only delicious, but medicinal. Red raspberry leaf in particular is a wonderful plant ally of women, and can be consumed while pregnant to strengthen the womb, and even help ease labor. I myself enjoyed me some red raspberry tea while pregnant with my son, and it helped ease aches and pains attributed to the un-comfortability that can come with growing a kid. Can also be used to relieve painful periods, as well as soothing aches and pains attributed to flu and fevers.
“Red raspberry is a good source of assimilated calcium and other minerals, making it a health-enhancing alternative to regular tea. Raspberries, especially wild ones, are very high in salvestrols, a class of cancer-fighting chemicals.”-Backyard Medicine, by Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal
Raspberry leaves contain polypeptides, flavonoids, and tannins. Fruit contains pectin, fruit sugars, fruit acids, and vitamins A, B1, and C.
“An application of the flowers bruised with honey is beneficial for inflammations of the eyes, burning fever, and boils…The fruit is good for the heart and diseases of the mouth.”-K’Eogh, Irish Herbalist (1735)
Red Raspberry leaves are most known for encouraging easy labor. Specific mode of action is unknown, but the leaves are thought to strengthen muscles in the uterus, increasing the force of contractions, and thereby hastening childbirth. A decoction can relieve diarrhea, much like blackberries. Astringent properties of raspberry leaf are great in eyewashes for conjunctivitis, a mouthwash for mouth problems, or in concentrated decoctions or even poultices for external skin ailments like ulcers and seeping wounds.
~Do not take medicinally in early stages of pregnancy.~
You generally want to wait until the last 10 weeks of pregnancy before ingesting a raspberry infusion, steeped no longer than 5-6 minutes, but it is also helpful for ailments earlier on in pregnancy. Consult an herbalist or midwife to be on the safe side. Most Western physicians don’t know much about herbs during pregnancy, so they will tell you to avoid them to save themselves.
Use 1 teaspoon of dry or fresh raspberry leaves p/cup. Drink 1-2 cups p/day.
-Use 2 tsps. of raspberry leaf per cup of water to make a strong infusion to consume every hour as needed for diarrhea.
-While raspberry leaf is used by women mainly for childbirth, men can use it to increase fertility by drinking an herbal infusion regularly. Use 1 tsp. raspberry leaf p/cup of water and drink 1-3 cups daily.
-Women can also drink on the regular to reduce painful menstrual cramps.
-Raspberry infusions can curb morning sickness, but ginger is a safer alternative during the early stages of pregnancy. The two herbs also mix well together for easing queasiness associated with motion sickness as well.
-Raspberry infusions can decrease the symptoms of PMS.
*While working on this post, I got an email from one of the many herbal blogs I follow and it just so happened to be about Raspberry. Traditional Medicinals has Red Raspberry Leaf tea ready to brew, and they even sent me a lovely recipe for a red raspberry leaf cooler, which you can find below.
RED RASPBERRY LEAF COOLER
-6 Red Raspberry Leaf Tea Bags (or about 2-3 tbsp. of loose leaf)
-2 cups raspberry juice or other berry juice
-4 cups boiling water
-Juice of 2 lemons
-1/4 cup honey
Put raspberry leaf in a large jar and cover with boiling water. Steep 15 minutes. Remove bags or strain, squeezing any remaining tea from the leaves. Add lemon juice, honey and raspberry juice. Shake well. (Don’t shake jar with hot liquid. Make sure it has cooled down some before hand. You don’t want it cold though or your honey won’t dissolve very well.)
Pour into glasses over ice 3/4 of the way. Top off with sparkling water, and garnish with fresh fruit, citrus, or edible flowers.
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