encyclopedia

Blackberry Leaves

Scientific Names:    

Rubus fruticosus L. s.l. [Fam. Rosaceae]    
     

Forms:    

Infusion made of the dried and crushed leaves of Rubus fruticosus.    
     

Traditional Usage:    

– Antioxidant
– Astringent
– Bladder Health Maintenance
– Burns
– Colds
– Coughs
– Diarrhea
– Diuretic
– Dysentry
– Eczema
– Flu
– Hemorrhoids
– Mouthwash
– Poultice
– Sore Throat
– Sugar Control
– Tonic
– Tonsillitis
– Whooping Cough     
     
    
Overview:    

Blackberry, Rubus fruticosus L. [Fam. Rosaceae], also known as Bramble, Dewberry, Goutberry, and Thimbleberry, thrives in Australia but is also common in hedgerows, woodlands, and meadows throughout the globe. The leaves are primarily given for diarrhea and mouth and throat irritations and inflammations. The German Commission E recommends blackberry leaf tea for treating non-specific acute diarrhea, as well as externally for treating mild infections of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat. Both the leaves and roots of the blackberry plant are believed to have astringent, depurative, diuretic, tonic, and vulnerary properties. In folk medicine they have been used to treat gout, burns and scalds, dysentery, hemorrhoids, cystitis, colds, flu, sore throat, eczema, and anemia. Researchers have found that it is the tannin in blackberry leaves that relieves diarrhea but have not found any evidence to back up the other claims. Studies showing the hypoglycemic activity of Rubus fruticosus as well as the presence of xyloglucans in Rubus cells were conducted in France. Other clinical studies have reported that antioxidant activity in the fruits and leaves of blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry varies during cultivar and developmental stages. Interestingly, blackberry is known in some parts of Europe as 'Scaldhead'. The leaves are said to be still in use in England as a remedy for burns and scalds. Creeping under a bramble-bush was at one time considered a charm against rheumatism, boils, blackheads, and other conditions. Blackberry bushes were actually once popularly recognized as charms against various disorders. Dr. James Duke in The Green Pharmacy recommends blackberry root tea for treating tonsillitis and notes that it was a popular early American folk remedy for tonsillitis, often taken together with persimmons, both rich in tannins. Dr. Duke recommends making an astringent tea using 2 teaspoons of blackberry leaf to effectively treat diarrhea.    
     
    
Active Ingredients:    

Blackberry leaves contain: 8-14% hydrolysable tannins (gallotannins); dimeric ellagitannins; plant acids including citric and isocitric acids; flavonoids; pentacyclic triterpene acids. Two rhamnogalacturonide tetrasaccharides isolated from semi-retted flax fibers have been shown to act as signaling molecules in Rubus fruticosus L. cells.    
     
    
Suggested Amount:    

Blackberry leaves can be used for tea, gargles, mouthwashes, or poultices. To make the infusion pour boiling water over 1.5 grams (about 21/2 teaspoonfuls) of dried and crushed blackberry leaves, steep for 10 to 15 minutes, and then strain. The recommended daily dosage is 2 to 5 grams (about 1 to 3 tablespoonfuls) of the crushed herb. The leaves should be completely dried before use as the drying process eliminates toxins. The German Commission E recommends a dosage of 4.5 grams of blackberry leaves daily taken as infusions or other preparations for internal use, and for mouthwashes. It is noted that if diarrhea persists for more than 3-4 days, a doctor should be consulted. (1 teaspoon = ca. 0.6g).     
     
    
Drug Interactions:    

None known.    
     
    
Contraindications:    

None known.    
     
    
Side Effects:    

None known. Cautionary Note: Teas rich in tannins can damage the liver if taken to excess over long periods of time.    
     
    
References:    

Alonso R, Cadavid I, Calleja JM. A preliminary study of hypoglycemic activity of Rubus fruticosus. Planta Med. 1980; Suppl: 102-6.
 
Faik A, Chambat G, Joseleau JP. Changes in wall-bound polysaccharidase activities during the culture cycle of a Rubus fruticosus cell suspension. Int J Biol Macromol. 1995 Dec; 17 (6): 381-6.
 
Dinand E, Excoffier G, Lienart Y, Vignon MR. Two rhamnogalacturonide tetrasaccharides isolated from semi-retted flax fibers are signaling molecules in Rubus fruticosus L. cells. Plant Physiol. 1997 Oct; 115 (2): 793-801.
 
Wang SY, Lin HS. Antioxidant activity in fruits and leaves of blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry varies with cultivar and developmental stage. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Feb; 48 (2): 140-6.
 
Wichtl M and NG Bisset (eds). 1994. Rubi fruticosi folium – Bramble leaf. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 431-433.