Raspberry, belongs to the rose family and is often referred to as the ‘woman’s herb’ by herbalists. It has eight species, some of them being red raspberry, black raspberry, wine raspberry, blue raspberry. Both raspberry leaves and fruits are rich in citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, citrate, malate and tartarate of iron, potassium, calcium, potassium chloride, sulphate and phosphate, pectin, fragrine (an alkaloid that tones the tissues), vitamins A, B, C, E, and fructose.
Raspberries are grown in all temperate regions of the world and contain significant amounts of polyphenol antioxidants such as anthocyanin pigments which are said to be protective against inflammation, pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, allergies, age-related cognitive decline and degeneration of eyesight. If you are curious to know more about the wonderful benefits of raspberry, read our previous article here.
Raspberry leaf tea is one of the most pleasant-tasting of all herbal teas. The flavor is similar to black tea, only it does not contain caffeine. Raspberries is said to have been discovered by the Olympian gods while searching for berries on Mount Ida. They are indigenous to Asia Minor and North America, with the first real records of domestication coming from the writings of Palladius, a Roman agriculturist. By Medieval times it had a great many uses, including the juices which were used in paintings and illuminated manuscripts.
King Edward the 1st (1272-1307) was said to be the first to call for mass cultivation of raspberries, whose popularity spread quickly throughout Europe. Teas of raspberry leaves were given to women of the Cherokee, Iroquois, and Mohawk nations in North America, and have earned approval of the authoritative British Herbal Compendium.
Raspberry contains considerable amounts of flavonoids, tannins, and elagic acid. Read its nutritional profile here.
Studies on Raspberry Tea
1. High ORAC
One study that demonstrated that raspberry leaves have a higher ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) value. The study compared fruits and leaves of from different cultivars of thorn-less blackberry, red raspberry, black raspberry, and strawberry plants to see their antioxidant capacity. The results showed that in fresh berries, ORAC values ranged from (35.0−162.1 μmol of TE/g of dry matter), whereas in leaves, ORAC values ranged from 69.7-182.2 μmol of TE/g of fresh leaves (205.0−728.8 μmol of TE/g of dry matter). Read the study here.
Another study’s findings suggested that the raspberry leaf herb can be consumed by women during their pregnancy to shorten labor with no identified side effects for the women or their babies. The findings also suggested that consuming raspberry leaf products might decrease the likelihood of pre- and post-term gestation.
An unexpected finding in this study indicated that women who ingest raspberry leaf might be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes, or require a cesarean section, forceps or vacuum birth than the women in the control group. Read the study here.
A second study showed that raspberry leaf, consumed in tablet form, was found to cause no adverse effects for mother or baby, but contrary to popular belief, did not shorten the first stage of labor. The only clinically significant findings were a 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%). Otherwise, no significant relationship was found between tablet consumption and birth outcomes. Read study here.
3. Relaxant activity
According to researchers who published a study in the journal “Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Medicine” in 2002, people have used raspberry leaf tea for centuries to treat wounds, diarrhea and colic pain. To test the validity of these folk remedies, the researchers observed the relaxant activity of dried raspberry leaves prepared with a variety of solvents. They found that at least two components of raspberry leaf extract exhibit relaxant activity in an in vitro gastrointestinal preparation, so it may be useful for some of these ailments.
How to make Raspberry Tea?
Many herbal teas include raspberry to stabilize other ingredients. You can harvest wild or tame raspberry leaves in spring or mid-summer for maximum potency. Use them freshly picked, but dry them for storage away from the light.
Raspberry tea is abundant in potassium (441 ppm), calcium (121 ppm) and magnesium (93 ppm), it is also rich in all important trace minerals such as manganese (.52 ppm), zinc (.35 ppm), iron (.04 ppm) and chromium (.02 ppm).
~Making the tea
.Rinse your teapot with hot water,
.Pour 1 cup (240 ml) of boiling water over 1 or 2 teaspoons (3-5 grams) of dried leaf.
.Close the teapot and allow to stand for 10 minutes, then sweeten to taste.
Raspberry leaf tea is great hot or cold; if you intend to keep it overnight it is best stored in the fridge. You can drink this during pregnancy, up to 2 to 3 cups daily.
Benefits of Raspberry Tea
1. Pregnancy and Child Birth
Drinking raspberry tea throughout pregnancy strengthens and tones tissues, helping contractions and checks hemorrhage during labour. A perfectly safe drink (unlike black tea or coffee which contain caffeine) raspberry tea also enriches milk and helps prevent miscarriage.
~Precautions/ Who should not take
.A previous labour lasted only three hours or less, from start to finish.
.You’re scheduled to have a planned caesarean for a medical reason.
.You’ve had a caesarean before.
.You’ve had a premature labour before.
.You’ve had vaginal bleeding in the second half of pregnancy.
.Have a family or personal history of breast or ovarian cancer, endometriosis or fibroids.
.Are expecting a baby who is breech.
.Have any complications or health problems in your pregnancy, including high blood pressure.
.Are expecting twins.
2. Nursing Benefits
.Has been reported to ‘bring in rich milk’, most likely due to its mineral content.
.Helps to balance postpartum hormones to prevent the drastic change in hormones that causes many women to experience postpartum depression.
.Helps increase breast milk after the baby is born.
3. Uterine Tonic
Used for thousands of years by Native Americans, red raspberry is helpful as a uterine tonic to strengthen the uterus during pregnancy and strengthen contractions. The tea doesn’t bring on contractions, only helps to focus them, making them more effective.
4. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Red raspberries are known to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain associated with gout, arthritis and other inflammatory joint conditions due to the presence of anthocyanins, the chemical that gives them their red color. Drinking a tea made from red raspberries or red raspberry leaves three times daily may make a difference in the amount of anti-inflammatory medications needed to reduce pain in these conditions.
In case of leucorrhea (mucous discharge from genitals), raspberry leaf douche is made by simmering 1 tablespoon of leaves in one pint of water for 10 minutes, covered, cooled, strained and used at room temperature.
.Raspberry tea can help with painful menstruation and flow.
.Helps to detoxify excess hormones which is very helpful during times of hormonal shift such as menopause or in the second half of the menstrual cycle (the two weeks before starting your period, which is when most women experience PMS).
. The leaves of raspberry is used fresh or dried as herbal teas to regulate menstrual cycles and to decrease heavy menstrual flow.
.At menopause the adrenals are geared to take over as the ovaries gradually cease functioning; many menopausal symptoms are caused by exhausted adrenals. The herb best suited to help is raspberry leaf.
7. Benefits for Men
.In herbal terms, it’s a ‘nourishing reproductive tonic’ for men.
.Its ability to detoxify extra hormones is helpful for men also since they are bombarded with artificial estrogens on a daily basis from commercial meat and milk, plastics, food additives, and chemical fumes. These extra estrogens, along with too much unresolved stress over a lifetime, are major culprits in the phenomenon known as “andropause” or male menopause, which is characterized by a drastic drop in testosterone levels.
.Men in mid-life crisis with exhausted adrenals are advised to drink the tea too.
8. Fertility and Depression
Red raspberry tea with red clover (one or more cups daily for several months) promotes fertility in men and women, prevents post-partum depression and hypertension, and with blessed thistle, increases breast- milk production.
9. Heart and Circulatory Benefits
High in vitamin C and gallic acid as well as other phytonutrients, the effects of raspberries and red raspberry tea have been show to help protect the heart and circulatory systems and slow down the advancement of age-related diseases, according to the Berry Health Benefits Network.
10. Antioxidant Properties
Antioxidant properties found in the red raspberry help to protect cell membranes from damage from free radicals. Ellagic acid is not the only antioxidant found in raspberries. These tiny fruits also contain quercitin and anthrocyanins, which contribute to their ability to offer protection from bacteria and fungi in the system, aiding in reducing outbreaks of vaginal yeast infections and irritable bowel disease. Drinking red raspberry tea is helpful in soothing and cleansing the mucus lining of bodily tissues, catarrhal conditions, and for toxins in the body.
11. Oral Health
.Raspberry tea can be used as a gargle, mouthwash.
.The tea can also be used to cure bleeding gum.
. Swishing with a tincture or infusion of Raspberry Leaf is great for the gums and can help alleviate the symptoms of gingivitis or gum diseases and other oral inflammations.
12. Skin benefits
.The tannins in raspberry leaf give it astringent properties which make it soothing both internally and externally.
.A strong raspberry leaf tea or tincture will sooth sunburn, eczema, and rashes when used externally.
Raspberry tea cannot be a cure-for-all magic fruit or tea. However, raspberry leaf and tea can make a great addition to a well-balanced, plant-based diet. Safe dosages for children under the age of 6 and for people with liver or kidney disease have not been established and hence not recommended for them.
Another thing to remember is that a raspberry tea label boasting natural ingredients does not mean that the raspberry flavor comes from raspberries. According to a 2007 “International Journal of Toxicology” report, castoreum, an extract derived from secretions of a beaver’s anal glands, is an FDA-approved natural food additive that has been used for decades to flavor foods. It is commonly added to vanilla ice cream and raspberry-flavored products, such as raspberry tea. To ensure that you are getting the health benefits of real raspberries, read labels carefully.