Red raspberries are the third most popular berry grown for fresh consumption in the U.S. They are full of cancer-fighting antioxidants, and they’ve also demonstrated anti-inflammatory benefits that can decrease pain from arthritis and gout. However, few people may realize the leaves of the red raspberry plant have significant benefits for the female reproductive system.
In fact, they can help to regulate the menstrual cycle, decrease discomfort during monthly periods and ease the unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy.
Women frequently look for caffeine-free beverage alternatives when they’re pregnant, and red raspberry leaf tea has been recognized by the American Pregnancy Association as safe to drink during pregnancy.
In addition to drinking red raspberry leaf tea, women may use red raspberry leaf as a tincture, in a salve or as part of an herbal bath. Thanks to its many benefits for women’s health, red raspberry leaf is gaining widespread recognition.
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Some Background on Red Raspberry Leaf
Red raspberry leaf, or Rubusideaus, has been used in Europe for nourishment during pregnancy since ancient times; it also has a history of use within the Cherokee, Chippewa, Iroquois, Kwakiutl and Quinalt tribes in North America.
Folk medicine practitioners in the American Southwest as well as in Amish communities regularly use red raspberry leaf to treat menstrual cramps and to prepare women for labor.
Many online references claim red raspberry leaf contains “fragrine,” which some say is an alkaloid that tones uterine and pelvic floor muscles. However, according to Paul Bergner, writing for the journal Medical Herbalism, fragrine neither appears in any standard chemical references related to alkaloidsnor is discussed in standard references on red raspberry leaves and their chemical makeup.
The positive effects on the female reproductive system may have more to do with the red raspberry leaf’s mineral content.
A Treasure Trove of Minerals
Red raspberry leaf contains high concentrations of minerals that, when consumed over a long period of time, have positive effects on the female reproductive system. These minerals include:
One ounce of red raspberry leaf contains about 400 milligrams of calcium. The U.S. recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium for pregnant women is 1,200 milligrams per day.
Developing babies require a great deal of calcium, and the reproductive system will leach calcium from the mother’s bones if she doesn’t consume enough, increasing her osteoporosis risk later in life. Also, calcium helps blood to clot normally, regulates muscles and nerves, and allows the heart to beat regularly.
Red raspberry leaf contains 100 milligrams of magnesium per ounce. Studies have shown magnesium improves many symptoms of premenstrual syndrome(PMS) including bloating, insomnia, leg swelling, weight gain and breast tenderness. Magnesium’s importance in regulating blood pressure is well-known.
It’s given intravenously in hospitals to women suffering from preeclampsia. Also, magnesium regulates enzymes called prostaglandins, which have been shown to contribute to menstrual pain.
The concentration of manganese in red raspberry leaf, according to Bergner, is unusually high for an herbal source. An ounce of red raspberry leaf contains 4.8 milligrams of manganese, and the recommended tolerable upper limit is 11 grams per day. Manganese deficiency has been associated with infertility. Manganese may also help to alleviate PMS symptoms.
In addition, red raspberry leaves are high in potassium and contain about 3 milligrams of iron per ounce.
A study in the journal Lancet published in 1941 indicated researchers observed “antispasmodic and uterine sedative properties” in women who drank red raspberry leaf tea. Uterine sedative properties could explain why so many women report menstrual cramp relief when they drink red raspberry leaf tea and why it may help to ease uncomfortable Braxton-Hicks contractions during pregnancy.
Although a uterine sedative may seem contraindicative during childbirth, Native Americans actually used red raspberry leaf to ease labor pain. Researchers suggest its antispasmodic properties played some role in making uterine contractions more efficient by normalizing erratic or inefficient smooth muscle movement.
How to Prepare Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
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Strong decoctions, according to herbalists, increase the bio availability of the water-soluble minerals. For a tea that delivers the maximum mineral benefits, steep one ounce of dried red raspberry leaf in one pint of almost boiling water. Drinking the tea regularly, rather than intermittently, will maximize its benefits. Try red raspberry leaf tea today, and say “hello” to an easier monthly cycle or a more comfortable pregnancy.