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Raspberry Leaf Tea During Pregnancy Explained

Pile of raspberries.

Welcome to the latest installment of taking nature into our own hands. Spotlight today on Red Raspberry Leaf. It’s incredible what we have at our fingertips and don’t even know the extent of their effects. We’ve all at least once in our lives ended a long day with a nice hot cup of tea. I, myself, just believed that the heat of the drink was soothing me and preparing me for bed. I always thought it was something about childhood and the ‘warm hug’ effect. But there’s so much more to it.

One of the best ways to reap the benefits of herbs is by drinking the concentration of their leaves. We’ve all heard of chamomile tea, green tea, and lemon tea but few have heard of the numerous benefits of Raspberry Leaf  (Rubus idaeus) tea. As we’ll see, the use of this leaf is somewhat controversial. The truth is that the leaf itself isn’t controversial, but the effects really do vary from person to person. The facts are all there in terms of how it helps but because the properties are so potent, what helps one person might hurt another. This brings me onto the topic of today’s discussion. What exactly is raspberry leaf and what separates it from regular tea?

What Is Raspberry Leaf?

Raspberry growing.

Growing raspberry leaf.

Raspberry has been the staple of jams, jellies, and ice pop flavors since practically before time itself. What you may not know, however, are the medicinal properties of the raspberry leaf. And that is why we are here today.  If the raspberry leaf could talk, it’d be able to settle some hot topic debates, having been around since the paleolithic period.

According to historians, cavemen, or as they prefer to be called, cave dwellers, ate the raspberry leaf for sustenance. This preceded  45 A.D, when the Ancient Greeks farmed it for mass consumption. That being said, it’s first official recording only popped up in 1597, in a book called ‘The Herbal’. Because of its widespread cultivation, it can be found all over Europe, especially Britain, not arriving in the US until 1771.

If we’re talking nitty gritty figures, one ounce of raspberry leaf provides 408mg of calcium, 446mg potassium, 106 mg of magnesium, and a little iron and manganese, for good measure. As if that wasn’t enough when applied directly to the skin the leaf soothes a sore throat and surface rashes. The leaf is fortified with nourishing B vitamins and is rich in antioxidants like tannins to cleanse your body.

Eczemasunburn and even gum disease are all powerless against even a tincture of raspberry leaf. Now that we’ve touched on just a few of the raspberry leaves benefits let’s delve into a few more.

Benefits Of Raspberry Leaf Explained

The benefits of raspberry leaf are many, and very, very practical. You’ll hear about raspberry leaf a lot if you are a woman, especially if you are a pregnant woman. The vitamins and nutrients are oftentimes the very things that pregnant women are lacking; specifically speaking: vitamins A, B1, B2, and B3, as well as vitamins C and E, manganese, niacin, and selenium.

This list goes on with calcium, iron, and magnesium topping off this fertility superleaf. These babies are respectively responsible for healthy tissue, bones, and cartilage. We all need well functioning tissue, bones, and cartilage, but even more so for expecting mamas who are creating these things from scratch. They’re also helpful when it comes to fatigue and anemia, typical symptoms that come part and parcel with the miracle of creating life.

Getting deeper into the female related benefits, raspberry leaf is a uterine tonic due to the fact that it contains alkaloids . Uterine is derived from the word ‘uterus’ meaning it’s involved in all things uterus related. Basically it tones your uterine muscles, relieving you of cramps in mild cases, but also preparing your uterus for giving birth. The fact is that 25% of women in the United States use raspberry leaf in the lead up to the big event.

Raspberries also have astringent properties used to tighten lax tissues, so your uterus doesn’t prolapse. Together the team of fragarine and astringency seem to be responsible for a smoother uterine experience. Side note: it’s great for the metabolism. It just gets everything moving. In those last few months, that can be a huge relief.

Raspberry Leaf Tea DIY Recipe

Tea infuser surrounded by herbs.

Herbal tea infusion.

Why make raspberry leaf tea yourself at all? You’d think you could just pick some tea bags up at your local supermarket, right? It’s actually not that simple. Many mainstream tea manufacturers actually use artificial raspberry flavoring. So that before-bed mug of tea you’ve been hoping will ease your cramps is in fact just tasty. There’s nothing wrong with tasty, but you need to know what you’re putting into your body before writing it off. In a nutshell, packaged tea is often flavored, or mixed with elderberry, apples, rosehip, or hibiscus, which do their own thing, but aren’t what you signed up for.

Before I go ahead and let you know proportions, you might also be interested to know the difference between a tea and an infusion. Tea is your run of the mill steeped herbs/leaves. Meaning you get your herb or leaf, put it in boiling water for 4-5 minutes and enjoy the benefits. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely benefits, but if you have time for an infusion, you’ll enjoy more than 10x the benefits.

An infusion uses an ounce of raspberry leaf steeped overnight, or for 8 hours. Put simply: a glass of tea has 5mg of calcium while an infusion has between 200-250mg of calcium. So, if you have the time, it’s definitely worth the investment. For tea you’ll only need 1 or 2 teaspoons of crushed leaf to 240 ml of water. Steep for 4-10 minutes. You can drink this up to 6 times a day and is most efficient when taken over long periods of time. Most people compare the taste to black tea. If this flavor doesn’t tickle your fancy you can add some honey or agave nectar to sweeten it up. Honey has natural healing properties which makes it a great addition to any tea.

Raspberry Leaf For Labor And Pregnancy

Hands holding mug of red liquid.

Hot mug of raspberry leaf tea.

The benefits of red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy have been a long-debated hot topic. There are many tea’s that are especially beneficial for optimal women’s health, but is raspberry leaf one of them? It can help to reduce morning sickness, improve the effectiveness of contractions for an easier labor, and improve the strength of the amniotic sac. It even has benefits post-birth to help increase the mineral count of your breast milk and balance your postpartum hormones. Despite these health benefits, there are concerns that drinking red raspberry tea might speed up the labor process a little too quickly. This is specifically true in the second stage of labor.

According to McIntyre, n.d., para 7, raspberry leaf is effective by “Relaxing over-tense muscles and toning over-relaxed muscles. Raspberry leaves enable the uterus to contract effectively during childbirth, easing and speeding the birth.” Just two cups a day prepares your body for the labor intensity of labor and cramping as your due date approaches. In a control group of 108 women 50% took red raspberry leaf throughout pregnancy. These women reported less damage to the uterine membranes and less need for caesarean sections; even forceps or vacuums were less necessary.

At the end of the day, there’s no doubt that the benefits of this leaf vary greatly from person to person. This is especially true when it comes to the delicate process that is pregnancy and labor. If you decide to use raspberry leaf tea, do so with caution at first to ensure that you don’t do yourself more harm than good. While the benefits are great, the side effects could leave you worse for wear. Let’s take a closer look at what these side effects are, so that you can make an educated decision about your tea choices.

Is Raspberry Leaf Safe?

For the average tea-drinker, raspberry leaf tea is not only safe, but provides a multitude of health benefits. If your due date has come and gone and you’re still as pregnant as ever, chances are you want this baby out. You’re the least comfortable you’ve ever been and you’re more than ready to meet your new addition. Raspberry leaf tea has provided women with a natural labor inducing remedy for centuries. It has only been in (relatively) recent years that this tea has presented potentially harmful qualities. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the FDA very loosely regulates herbal supplements. This means that, especially if you’re buying your tea online, you never know exactly what it is you’re getting. This should be reason enough to tread carefully with this tea.

The bottom line when it comes to safety is to always proceed with caution. This isn’t the kind of tea that you can just sip on a whim for a little relaxation. You usually need to put it past your healthcare provider before going ahead with it. This can even be just to have an idea of what your dosage should be. You shouldn’t be drinking more than one cup a day when you’re first trying it out. Generally speaking, it’s a safe tea. You just have to know where you lay on the risk spectrum before jumping on board. There’s no reason to get panicky, a little caution never hurt anyone. But if you’re wondering what exactly the potential side effects could be, let’s take a look.

Raspberry Leaf Side Effects Explained

Some say that red raspberry leaf might in fact be too good at it’s job. The relaxant properties found in raspberry leaf are basically on par with Benzodiazepines, a prescription relaxant that depresses the nervous system for ultimate muscle relaxation. Now, you’re not going to receive that kind of effect from just one cup, but these properties are the root of the controversy.

The very same properties that make red raspberry leaf effective for stimulating labor makes it controversial during pregnancy. Many midwives fear that the leaf could actually induce premature labor, leading to loss of pregnancy. For this reason, a lot of women don’t start taking the leaf until late second trimester as opposed to the first trimester. Most herbalists and midwives promote this tea later in pregnancy rather than early pregnancy. Some women even wait until their third trimester to reap the potential benefits of the powerful raspberry plant. There isn’t actually any scientific evidence to substantiate this, but it’s always good to consult with your doctor in such sensitive situations. Whether raspberry leaf tea helps you or not is often a very personal issue. Obviously, if you’re experiencing braxton hicks contractions after drinking the tea for the first time, it might not be the right tea for you.

Beyond the women’s health benefits, this leaf also acts as a powerful laxative to relieve digestion issues. You should also avoid it if you’re suffering from cardiovascular issues or high blood pressure. If you’re suffering from other health problems, the efficacy of this tea will vary and traditional medicinals might be a preferable route. Check with your healthcare provider to avoid any adverse effects. Herbal supplements and herbal remedies are only useful if they’re doing the right thing for your body. In these cases, you’d always rather be safe than sorry.

Conclusion

Raspberry leaf is proof that everything in nature has a purpose. Not just a flavoring, not just a berry, but every part of the plant is useful. Who knew that your favorite raspberry sauce could have so much goodness? As with anything in nature, you reap the benefits largely based around the way in which you use the substance. So when it comes to raspberry leaves it seems like a tea or an infusion is your best way forward. This leaf is one of those leaves that it’s efficacy widely varies from person to person. It has the potential to help some, and harm others, so don’t go using it lightly. That being said, if it does work for you, the benefits are profound. It has the potential to completely transform your pregnancy from a difficult and sometimes uncomfortable experience, to a soothing and natural miracle of life.

If we listen to nature and our bodies, along with the guidance of healthcare professionals, we are able to get a great flow going. Pun intended. This little baby will help you with your little baby, and long term with your monthly visitor. The benefits of raspberry leaf for fertility are immense, as we’ve seen. I don’t know about you but there’s definitely a whole new level of comfort to my evening cup now! Whether you’re pregnant or not, male or female, this tea has powerful benefits for your body. If you don’t believe me, get your healthcare provider to give you the green light on this tea, so that you can try it for yourself and see! And if raspberry leaf tea isn’t for you, why not try some other herbal teas to get you started?