encyclopedia

Raspberry Leaves

Scientific Names:
Rubus idaeus L. [Fam. Rosaceae]

Forms:
Cut and dried leaves, petiole, and stem of Rubus idaeus L. for making tea

Traditional Usage:
– Birth Facilitation

– Cleansing, Detoxifying

– Diarrhea

– Digestive Disorders

– Diuretic

– Fever

– Flu

– Heart Health Maintenance

– Menstrual Health Maintenance

– Morning Sickness

– Nausea

– Pregnancy-related Disorders

– Skin Disorders

– Vascular Disorders

Overview:
Raspberry, Rubus idaeus L. [Fam. Rosaceae], is indigenous to Europe, North America, and Asia. Raspberry leaf is most often recommended for pregnant women suffering from morning sickness and nausea, but is also recommended for respiratory conditions and for heart health maintenance. Raspberry leaf products are also recommended to shorten labor, and a recent double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial did show a significant shortening of the second stage of labor (mean difference = 9.59 minutes) and a lower rate of forceps deliveries between the treatment group and the control group (19.3% vs. 30.4%). A 1998 retrospective observational study on the safety and efficacy of raspberry leaf products during pregnancy also found significant results. The sample consisted of 108 mothers; 57 (52.8%) consumed raspberry leaf products while 51 (47.2%) were in the control group. The study showed that raspberry leaf products are safe to take by women during their pregnancy for the purpose for which they are taken, that is, to shorten labor and treat nausea and morning sickness. There were no identified side effects for the women or their babies. The study also showed that raspberry leaf consumption during pregnancy might also decrease the likelihood of pre and post-term gestation. An unexpected finding in this study was that women who ingest raspberry leaf might be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes, or require caesarean section, forceps or vacuum birth than the women in the control group. Raspberry leaf tea also has potent antioxidant activity. Raspberry leaf tea is also given for inflammation of the mouth and throat, skin disorders, flu, fever, water retention, menstrual pain, vitamin deficiency, blood sugar irregularities, and as a blood and skin purification agent. Many First Nation peoples made a beverage tea from raspberry leaves and/or stems and ate the young shoots in spring.

Active Ingredients:
Raspberry leaf contains: gallo- and ellagitannins; flavonoids; and vitamin C. The leaves are also likely rich in (vascular-strengthening) proanthocyanidins and a small amount of anthocyanins.

Suggested Amount:
Raspberry leaf can be taken as a tea or used as a mouth and throat gargle. The infusion of finely chopped raspberry leaves is made by pouring boiling water over 1.5 grams (1 teaspoon = 0.8 grams) of herb material, steeping for 5 minutes, and then straining. May be taken as needed. Based on clinical trials, raspberry leaf taken to shorten labor is recommended with the dosage of 2 tablets daily (corresponding to 1.2 g of leaf per day), consumed from 32 weeks’ gestation until labor.

Drug Interactions:
None known.

Contraindications:
None known.

Side Effects:
None known.

References:

Parsons M, Simpson M, Ponton T. 1999. Raspberry leaf and its effect on labour: safety and efficacy. Aust Coll Midwives Inc J 1999 Sep; 12(3): 20-5.

Simpson M, Parsons M, Greenwood J, Wade K. 2001. Raspberry leaf in pregnancy: its safety and efficacy in labor. J Midwifery Womens Health 2001 Mar-Apr; 46(2): 51-9.

Turner N, and Kuhnlein H. 1991. Traditional plant foods of Canadian indigenous peoples. Nutrition, botany and use. In Food and Nutrition in History and Anthropology Vol. 8. Gordon & Breach Science Publishers, Philadelphia, PA, p. 254-255.

Wang SY and Lin HS. 2000. 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. Raspberry leaf. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 434-436.