Summer will be here shortly and along with it is the flowering and fruiting of berries. Today, I’m here to talk about the benefits of the red raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus) specifically in pregnancy and midwifery. Red raspberry leaves have been used throughout the centuries to assist in aspects of health, from supporting digestion, to toning the muscles of the uterine wall, to encouraging milk production with its rich mineral content. According to Aviva Romm, red raspberry leaf is recommended by 63% of midwives.
The constituents of red raspberry leaf include antioxidants, tannins, alkaloids, fiber, vitamins A, B, C, E, and minerals – calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, and potassium. The tannins are astringent and tone tissues, especially uterine tissues. Rosalee de le Forét likes to describe the action of astringency to eating an unripe banana and the resulting dry feeling in your mouth. Red raspberry leaf is wonderful for laboring moms. According to Matthew Wood, the alkaloid fragrine found in red raspberry leaf tones the muscles of the uterine wall support the expelling of the afterbirth from the uterus.
From the beginning of the second trimester until childbirth, pregnant women can drink red raspberry tea in preparation for birth. My daughter, Grace, made a strong red raspberry leaf tea into ice cubes and brought it with her to the hospital when she gave birth last May. She found drinking the tea through her second and third trimesters immensely helpful and she enjoyed the flavor.
Red raspberry leaf is also rich in minerals – calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, and potassium. These minerals are important for breastfeeding and childbirth. Milk production is more nutrient-dense when mothers drink the minerally rich red raspberry leaf. The minerals calcium and magnesium in red raspberry also help with the action of uterine muscle contractions, specifically contraction and relaxation of the muscles needed to facilitate birth.
WishGarden Herbs has a few pregnancy formulas containing red raspberry leaf. Milk Rich with Goat’s Rue to support milk production and Fertility Prep Mother’s Cordial prepares the body for pregnancy.
The blend of herbs in Milk Rich with Goat’s Rue is chock full of galactagogues which support milk production and milk volume. We have the minerally-rich raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus) and nettle leaf (Urtica dioica), both full of minerals and vitamins to nourish the body and produce nutrient-rich milk. Fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare), not only as a galactagogue, but also to support gut health of both momma and baby, particularly when gas is an issue.
Goat’s Rue aerials (Galega officinalis) helps build mammary tissue, which supports milk volume and production. Fenugreek seed (Trigonella foenum-graecum) and blessed thistle aerials (Cnicus benedictus) increase milk volume and their bitter attributes support digestion. This well-rounded formula is a must for any new breastfeeding mother.
Raspberry leaf is a primary herb when one is preparing for pregnancy with Fertility Prep Mother’s Cordial as well. In addition to aiding in childbirth, raspberry leaf strengthens and tones the uterus. The combination of herbs in Fertility Prep Mother’s Cordial supports the body through normalizing hormonal fluctuations, toning the uterine smooth muscles, and supporting digestion.
Let’s not forget the dads! Red raspberry leaf is also a reproductive tonic for men with an affinity for the genitourinary tract. The B vitamins support the Krebs cycle for energy (ATP) production, the mineral iron builds the blood, and the mineral manganese to support the production of cartilage and connective tissues.
As you can see, the wonderful red raspberry leaf is a heroic plant for digestion, childbirth, breastfeeding, and overall support of both men’s and women’s reproductive systems. Consider adding red raspberry leaf to your home first aid kit.
While red raspberry leaf is generally regarded as safe, it is recommended to avoid red raspberry leaf in the first trimester of pregnancy. Please discuss all herbs and supplements with your naturopathic physician and/or midwife.
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Bone, Kerry and Simon Mills (2013). Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy Second Edition. Churchill Livingston.
de la Forét, Rosalee. Raspberry Leaf Uses. https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/raspberry-leaf-uses.html. Accessed 4/15/2021.
Duke, James A. (2002). Handbook of Medicinal Herbs Second Edition; Washington, DC:CRC Press.
Gladstar, Rosemary (2017). Herbal Healing for Men. Storey Publishing
Hoffman, David (2003). Medical Herbalism, The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT:Healing Arts Press.
Mills, Edward, et al (2006). Herbal Medicines in Pregnancy & Lactation, An Evidence-Based Approach. Boca Raton, FL:Taylor & Francis.
Romm, Aviva (2010). Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. St. Louis, MO:Elsevier.
Romm, Aviva. Herbs for an Easier Labor. https://avivaromm.com/herbs-easier-labor/. Accessed 4/15/2021.
Wood, Matthew (2009). The Earthwise Herbal Volume II, A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.