Congratulations, and many sympathies in light of all of 2020’s events, for genus Rubus for being Herb of the Year for 2020.
Apparently, its little trophies will not be handed out at this time.
That’s okay… we herbalists know and love you, Rubus!
My mom loves you, too, since she credits red raspberry for aiding pregnancy and labor with yours truly.
Anytime she encountered a pregnant woman, she would immediately recommend red raspberry leaf tea.
So, I am going to share a bit about this cool little herb.
You may know this plant well.
Here in Pennsylvania, “picking blackberries” is quite the event. I am blessed to have lived in a rural area my whole life and raspberry and blackberry plants grow wild and have produced plenty of tasty berries in the summer.
You suit up with long sleeves and pants to protect from the jaggers (the southwest PA word for “thorns”).
We refer to them simply as “blackberries,” regardless of them being black raspberries, blackberries, or dewberries.
Cooling and drying, with a sour element- both the berries and the leaves.
Leaves have the drying, astringent qualities (reducing excess fluid).
Berries provide the moistening aspect.
Leaves are in the 2nd degree remedy category, which means a “medicinal food.”
Eyes (used in eye wash teas to shrink inflammation in eye infections)
Alterative (blood cleansing)
Parturifacient (prepares for labor)
Emmenagogue (female hormones)
Mild hemostatic (reduces bleeding)
Pregnancy: Preparation for childbirth and providing nutrition
Uterine tonic : tighten lax tissue and relax tissue that is too tense
Indigestion; Morning sickness; Vomiting; Gastritis
Relieve of painful menstruation
Decrease too heavy menstrual flow
After pains and bleeding (childbirth)
Eye inflammation/infections- make a tea to rinse or compress on the eye
Canker sores; Mouth ulcers
Colds and Flu
Sour tonic are best for too much moisture and too much heat ( -itis). A condition where there is too much dryness may not be suitable.
Don’t let the “sour tonic” category put you off. I find the leaves to taste anywhere from earthy to have a fruit-tone.
Red raspberry isn’t as intense as other astringent herbs. It can tone tissue while aiding the uptake of nutrients.
Red raspberry is most known as an ally for female organ/function and pregnancy. However, any gender can benefit, as the action may tone the abdominal walls, which is why hernia is listed for uses.
It provides nutrition throughout pregnancy, helps with nausea, said to aid in reduction of labor pain, reduce uterine swelling, reduce bleeding post-partum, and help the process of healing and toning tissue. It is said that the toning action will help labor be more efficient. [The Momma (I mean MY momma): “I feel like I have to push.” Doctor: “If you feel you need to, go ahead.” The Momma: *pushes.* Doctor: “Oh! Baby’s coming out.” It went a little faster than he thought.]
One herbalist says that it will enrich colostrum for breastfeeding and a source to boost your breastmilk
nutrition as well as supporting lactation.
It is a source of manganese, which helps oxygenate cells. Vitamins A, C, D, E, G, F, and B, along with iron. The high calcium content helps relax muscles and relieve cramps.
I have added red raspberry leaf to my daily tea when hit with colds producing mucous or when I have a sore throat. A tea for oral rinse (sage, clove, rosemary, red raspberry, plantain) has helped irritated gums, prevent bleeding before dental cleaning, and relieve canker sores.
Red raspberry is an effective herb, yet it is gentle. Several of my herbal mentors say it can be used through the entire pregnancy. One says to use in second and third trimesters.
Warning/Caution: There are no known warnings or dangers.
There have been some materials out to add milk to the tea to reduce constipation form the drying effects. However, herbalist Steven Horne says it is mild enough to not cause constipation.
You can take capsules, tincture, and tea.
Tea: 1 teaspoon of herb steeped in 8 oz. water for 5-7 minutes. Typical recommendation is 2-3 times per day.
Equal parts Red raspberry leaf, Alfalfa, Peppermint. Example: 1/8 teaspoon of each, or ¼ teaspoon, etc. That means the same amount of each herb.
You can also add Oat straw herb to the blend (equal part to the others), it is nutritive, a relaxation-promotor, and full of minerals.
Another yet— Nettles, rich in iron and nutritive. Nettles or Oat straw can be interchanged in the tea blend above or both added.
Another idea is equal parts: Nettle, oat straw, red raspberry leaf, rose hips (a lot of Vitamin C), and spearmint leaves (if you prefer a milder mint flavor).
I love herbal medicine, but sometimes it’s good to have fun with the herbs.
When you go back to how society used and thought of them, then you get an understanding of the actions. Folklore was usually rooted in how they tried explaining.
Raspberry is protective.
Look at the plant: Thorns. Thorns were regarded as guardians.
The branches would be hung next to doors of homes or businesses. There is also a prosperity/abundance element because the plants produce much fruit and can easily spread.
The red berries were associated with blood, heart and love. It is no wonder the sign of Cancer is associated with it because Cancer is the Mother archetype: motherhood, home, family, children and nourishment.
Sacral chakra is the creation space –the womb and reproductive areas.
Christian depictions were associated with kindness. –the kind mother.
In a time before labs and studies, this is how people would explain their world. When we were really connected to the Earth and to God, we knew, like the animals know, what herbs help us.
As you take a look at the modern breakdown above and the folklore, you see how they connect.
Planet: Venus and Moon
Zodiac: Cancer, Pisces
Properties: Protection, Love, Fertility
Chakra: Sacral (below belly button)
Bone, K. (2007). The Ultimate Herbal Compendium: A Desktop Guide for Herbal Prescribers. Warwick, Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press.
Brown, K. (1999). Herbal Teas: 101 Nourishing Blends for Daily Health & Vitality. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.
Easley, T. & Horne, S. (2014). Modern Herbal Medicine. St. George, UT: The School of Modern Herbal Medicine.
Horne, S. (2000). Basic Herbalism course. Roosevelt, UT: Tree of Light Institute
Tenney, L. (1992). Today’s Herbal Health, 3rd Ed. Provo, UT: Woodland Books.
Comments and questions are welcome.
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