What Is It?
Raspberry leaf tea (not ‘raspberry flavored’) has been a household remedy since ancient Greece. Leaves from the readily available shrub contain a variety of valuable therapeutic compounds, including astringent tannins and key nutrients.
Because of this high tannin content, raspberry leaf tea can be useful for ailments that cause intestinal inflammation, especially diarrhea. The tannins act as astringents, and reduce swelling by constricting minute blood vessels called capillaries. This reduces the amount of excess fluids leaking into intestines irritated by diarrhea-causing micro-organisms.
The herb’s astringent quality is also helpful in other ways: raspberry leaf tea mouthwash and gargle to soothe canker sores and sore throats; poultices for hemorrhoids; even syrup for tooth tartar. More potent than the tea, raspberry leaf in the liquid extract form, when diluted with water, is an excellent astringent for wounds and inflammations, as well as a mouthwash for oral ulcers and inflamed gums.
Many herbalists recommend raspberry tea as an ideal beverage to sip throughout pregnancy, because it seems to relieve morning sickness. It is also believed to “stabilize” the uterus, especially in women prone to miscarriage. Indeed, pregnant women throughout the world have drunk raspberry tea without any adverse reactions reported for either themselves or the developing fetus. Interestingly, these recommendations are based on tradition rather than any formal scientific studies. The actual scientific evidence for raspberry’s benefits during pregnancy–or its potential health risks–is scanty and contradictory. The bottom line is that there have been no clinical studies to confirm the effectiveness or safety of raspberry remedies during pregnancy but given the widespread use of raspberry leaf tea for centuries, it’s probably safe.
When buying raspberry tea in tea bag form, be sure to check the label to confirm that raspberry leaf is the main ingredient. Some teas are simply flavored with raspberry essence and, while they may be pleasant-tasting, such products cannot be expected to provide therapeutic benefit.
There are no drug or nutrient interactions associated with raspberry leaf preparations.
· Dried leaf
· Liquid extract
· Freeze dried capsules
Sipped in moderation as a tea, raspberry is likely safe for everyone, although it remains unclear as to whether it’s safe to take during pregnancy. Clearly more research is needed.
Drink 1 cup tea up to 6 times a day. Use 1 tbsp. leaves per cup hot water and steep for 15 minutes, or add 1-2 tsp. liquid extract to a cup of warm water. Alternatively, liquid extract, one teaspoonful in water 5-6 times a day or freeze dried capsule 4-5 times a day until diarrhea clears
Sore throat and canker sores
Make a strong cup of tea; allow it to cool; gargle or swish around in mouth five or six times a day as needed. Alternatively, 2-3 teaspoonfuls of liquid extract in ½ cup of warm water, swished or gargled four times a day
Hemorrhoids, skin ulcers, minor wounds
Make a strong tea and allow the water to cool. Make a poultice by soaking soft cotton cloth in the liquid and applying it to the affacted area 2-3 times a day for about 15 minutes
David Edelberg, MD