Rubus idaeus, Rubus spp.
Raspberry leaf, red raspberry
Europe and Asia
When harvesting raspberry leaves, it's important to only take a few top leaves from each stem to avoid damaging the plant. It's also recommended to wear gloves and use clippers to avoid contact with the bristles. However, it's important to note that wilted raspberry leaves may become temporarily toxic due to chemical changes during the drying process. To avoid any potential risks, it's best to use raspberry leaves either fresh or thoroughly dried. This caution is due to the presence of cyanogenic glycosides, which are found in the seeds and wilting leaves of several members of the rose family, including raspberry. (1)
Raspberry leaf has been used by herbalists for centuries to promote digestive balance and alleviate diarrhea. The Cherokee people have long used the astringent leaves of both wild blackberry and raspberry to make a tea for children's diarrhea. Raspberry leaf's antispasmodic properties help ease discomfort and spasms associated with diarrhea and colic, while its astringent action promotes healthy peristalsis and benefits loose stool. Additionally, the herb has antacid and antiemetic effects against nausea. Although it is milder than blackberry, raspberry leaf is still effective for treating stomach flu and mild constipation.(2)
Raspberry leaf has a variety of medicinal uses, including its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used to treat oral issues such as mouth ulcers, bleeding gums, and sore throat by gargling with it. Additionally, it can be used to alleviate excess mucus caused by allergies or influenza. Raspberry leaf can also be used as a mild astringent tonic for the eyes, as it has been traditionally used by the Cherokee peoples for eye soreness and inflammation. In fact, the Cree name for Arctic raspberry translates to "eye berry," and a decoction of the plant's root has been used as eye drops for snow blindness. (3)
For centuries, raspberry leaf has been used to promote menstrual balance and alleviate cramps. The Cherokee people have used the leaf as an antispasmodic for menstrual cramps, while the root has been used to address menstrual irregularities. Raspberry leaf contains fragarine, an alkaloid that, when combined with other beneficial constituents, tones the uterus and pelvic muscles. According to herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, raspberry leaf serves as both a uterine relaxant and stimulant, regulating the uterus and reducing cramping during menstruation. The astringency of raspberry is also used to lessen heavy menstrual bleeding, with the Cree people traditionally making a tea from raspberry root and stem for this purpose. (4)
Raspberry leaf is a versatile herb that is known for its tonic effect on the womb, but it also has benefits for people of all genders. It is believed to strengthen the endocrine system and balance hormones, making it useful for regulating menstrual cycles and restoring irregular cycles. Additionally, it can be used as a tonic for the urinary tract, helping with issues such as incontinence, irritable bladder, and pelvic floor dysfunction. The Cherokee people use it as a diuretic for kidney stones, urinary issues, and fluid retention. Some herbalists even use raspberry leaf to promote fertility in all genders. Overall, raspberry leaf is a powerful reproductive, genitourinary, and endocrine tonic. (5)
Raspberry leaf has been used for centuries by Indigenous peoples of North America as a natural remedy for various issues related to childbirth. The Cherokee have traditionally used raspberry root as a uterine tonic to reduce the likelihood of miscarriage and ease labor pains, while the Cree have used decoctions of the leaf and root for similar purposes. Today, raspberry leaf is widely used during pregnancy to strengthen the uterus and prepare the body for labor, a practice that has been passed down through generations. (6)
Raspberry leaf has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for postpartum recovery. It is believed to help the uterus expel the placenta and regain its elasticity, while also promoting the flow of breastmilk. While there is limited clinical evidence to support its galactagogue properties, many herbalists still recommend raspberry leaf during lactation to ease breast discomfort and provide essential nutrients to the milk. This traditional use of raspberry leaf is also rooted in Indigenous herbal practices, such as the Cherokee's use of raspberry root as a galactagogue. However, it's important to note that raspberry leaf's astringency may not be suitable for everyone and could potentially impact milk production.(7)
Raspberry leaf is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and manganese. It is often recommended as a nutritive tonic to boost energy levels and aid in recovery from illness. To prepare raspberry leaf as an infusion, it is suggested to steep for 4-8 hours to increase the concentration of minerals. In fact, a cup of raspberry leaf infusion contains about 200-250 mg of calcium, compared to only 5 mg in a cup of raspberry leaf tea. (8)
Adult Dose (9)
Tea: 8 fl oz (1-3 teaspoons dried herb in 1 cup water) 3x/day
Infusion: 4-8 fl oz (1 oz dried herb in 1 quart water) 3x/day
Tincture: 2-4 mL (1:5, 40%) 3x/day
Raspberry leaf is a popular herb used for various purposes, including during pregnancy. However, it is important to note that it may interfere with the absorption of iron and should not be taken with metal ion supplements or thiamine medications. Additionally, high doses of tannins in raspberry leaf may cause gastrointestinal irritation, so caution should be taken in inflamed or ulcerated conditions. While generally considered safe during pregnancy, some herbalists advise limiting its use to the second and third trimesters due to its reputation as a uterine stimulant. It is recommended to consult a healthcare professional before using raspberry leaf during pregnancy and to discontinue use if experiencing early labor pains.(10)
(1) Bolarinwa, I.F., Oke, M.O., Olaniyan, S.U., & Ajala, A.S. (2016). A review of cyanogenic glycosides in edible plants. In M.L. Larramendy & S. Soloneski (Eds.), Toxicology: New aspects to this scientific conundrum (pp. 179-192). Rijeka, Croatia: InTech. https://doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.91408
(2)Gladstar, R. (1993). Herbal healing for women. New York, NY: Fireside.
(3)Garrett, J.T. (2003). The Cherokee herbal: Native plant medicine from the four directions. Rochester, VT: Bear and Company.
(4)Gladstar, R. (2017). Rosemary Gladstar’s herbal healing for men. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.
(5)Weed, S. (n.d.). Herbal allies for pregnancy problems. Retrieved from http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Pregnancy_Problems.htm
(6)Weed, S. (1996). Wise women herbal for the childbearing year. Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Publishing.
(7)Gladstar, R. (2008). Rosemary Gladstar’s herbal recipes for vibrant health. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.
(8) Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). The essential guide to herbal safety. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
(9)Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
(10)Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). The essential guide to herbal safety. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.