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Red Raspberry Leaf – Rubus idaeus
Red Raspberry leaves can be an herbal ally for women during many different life experiences, such as menstruation, pregnancy, and lactation. Most of us are familiar and fond of the berries, and, just like the berries of the raspberry bush, the leaves are nutrient-dense. However, the leaves possess powers beyond just vitamins and minerals, they also have a special affinity towards the female reproductive system.
Lactation support is another way that raspberry leaf can assist women in their journey. The nutrient and general reproductive support that raspberry leaf gives women, is not lost during breast milk production. Since raspberry leaf can be consumed during pregnancy, this herb is a galactagogue to consider if you are pregnant while continuing to produce breast milk for an older child.
Proper nourishment is critical for hormonal balance and to carry out the task of breastfeeding and pumping. Red raspberry, nettle, fennel, oat straw, and alfalfa are all wonderful, nutrient-rich herbs for a lactating woman to include in her self-care routine.
Nutrients found in raspberry leaf include a high calcium content, especially when brewed as a nourishing infusion^^, and bioavailable iron, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. All these nutrients are vital to menstruating, pregnant, and breastfeeding women. Raspberry leaf is found in many tea blends for pregnancy and lactation, and can also be taken as a tincture, or liquid capsule, as well as in a stronger hydro-infusion, known as a nourishing infusion.
For women who are menstruating, raspberry leaf is frequently used for painful period cramps. The active compound fragarine* helps draw blood to the pelvic region, increasing circulation and vitality. Raspberry leaf profoundly helps tone uterine muscles, which, in turn, makes contractions of the uterus (cramps) more organized, efficient and less painful. This is the same reason that raspberry leaf has been traditionally consumed during pregnancy. Additionally, raspberry leaf has been shown to be beneficial for nausea, like morning sickness**, and is known to be safe during pregnancy***.
There are a lot of contradicting opinions out there about using raspberry leaf in pregnancy. Many herbalists and midwives support taking raspberry leaf, usually 1-2 cups of tea daily. In fact, Michael Tierra, author of The Way of Herbs, classifies this incredible herb as an anti-abortifacient^, meaning that it promotes the carrying of a healthy pregnancy. Raspberry leaf can help in the efficiency of contractions during birth as well as decrease the risk of postpartum hemorrhage^^^. Raspberry can also help with post-labor uterine contractions as the uterus returns to its baby-free size. Always talk to your midwife or OB before taking any herbs in pregnancy, as they will have the best personalized advice for you.
TAKE AWAY: Raspberry leaf is a common plant that can aid women throughout all stages of their journey. Many renowned herbalists recommend raspberry before, during, and after pregnancy. We always recommend consulting with your healthcare provider, especially if you are concerned by some of the messages out there concerning this wonderful herb. You can find raspberry leaf in Motherlove’s Morning Sickness Blend and More Milk Two.
*Gruber et al 2011
^Michael Tierra, The Way of Herbs pg. 41
**Susun Weed, The Childbearing Year 1996
^^Susun Weed, nourishingherbalinfusions.com
^^^Michael Tierra, The Way of Herbs pg. 112