When you think about consuming parts of a raspberry plant, naturally you think of the raspberries themselves – but the leaves are just as nutritious and have great medicinal value. An alkaloid called fragrine that’s found in high concentration within these leaves tones the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus. It’s an excellent tonic to prepare a woman for childbirth, and can be enjoyed while pregnant as well as while trying to conceive or for general reproductive health.
Red raspberry leaves are most often prepared as an infusion or tea. You can find it in health food stores on its own or mixed with other beneficial herbs such as dandelion and nettle. Red raspberry leaves contain significant amounts of calcium, vitamins C, A and E as well as the entire B-complex, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc and chromium.
Famed herbalist Susun Weed recommends red raspberry leaf not just to strengthen the uterus and pelvic wall, but for its many beneficial effects, which include increased fertility, miscarriage and hemorrhage prevention, easing morning sickness, reducing pain during and after labor and birth, helping the uterus return more quickly to its pre-pregnancy size after birth and assisting in the production of plentiful breastmilk. Contrary to some misinformation found occasionally on the web, red raspberry leaf is not oxytocic or an emmenagogue – it will not start labor or promote contractions.
Red raspberry leaves are also beneficial for women of all ages, not just of childbearing age. They’re used to treat upper respiratory disorders, sore throats, wounds, colic pain and gastrointestinal upset. They’re rich in tannins, which have an astringent affect, reducing inflammation.
Drinking red raspberry leaf is widely considered to be acceptable during pregnancy by herbalists, naturopaths and midwives, but of course you should consult your medical professional before use. The general consensus is to use it during the second and third trimesters only just to be safe, since some midwives claim that it can cause spotting in the first trimester – follow the recommendation of your health care provider.
Just keep in mind that many ob-gyns aren’t trained in the use of herbs and are highly skeptical of their benefits. If you’re interested in using herbal medicine during pregnancy, you may want to seek out a practitioner who has some experience with herbalism.