Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is an herbal tea that should be in the kitchen of every pregnant woman and even those who aren’t (it’s actually good for everyone).
I should preface this post by saying that I was not a fan of tea, herbal or otherwise prior to learning about Red Raspberry Leaf tea. I have never, ever cared for tea and have never found myself compelled to drink it because every time I’ve tried it I thought it was nasty. I am also LDS (Mormon) and we don’t drink caffeinated teas in general so it wasn’t until I became pregnant again that I discovered herbal teas (which are completely acceptable from an LDS perspective). I have to admit that drinking herbal teas still takes some getting used to for me. I am finally starting to actually enjoy the earthy taste of the Red Raspberry Leaf tea (which tastes NOTHING like raspberries, by the way) and it is actually something I am starting to find comforting. I also find it easier for me to drink it iced and with a fresh orange squeezed into it rather than drinking it hot. So, without further adieu please take the time to read about this fascinating herb and all that it can do for you and your family.
History of Red Raspberry Leaf:
Red Raspberry Leaf (RRL) is a pale green leaf produced by the Raspberry plant. The use of Red Raspberry Leaves dates back to ancient Greeks and Romans and has a rich history of being used to treat a wide variety of ailments. Some of the illnesses that they used RRL to treat include: the flu, gum disease, rubella, upset stomach, hangover, diarrhea, fevers, vomiting, menstrual problems, inflammation, etc. The most popular use of Red Raspberry leaves is for pregnancy.
Red Raspberry Leaf Use in Pregnancy:
Many of the complications during pregnancy can be traced back to the mother’s diet, which typically lacks in vital nutrients and minerals that she so desperately needs during pregnancy. Women wise to these needs have recommended herbal tonics during the childbearing years for thousands of years to help both mother and baby experience a healthy, normal pregnancy and birth. Herbal tonics are both safe and effective and they help to improve overall health and prevent any major problems from developing. They also boost the supply of vital minerals and vitamins, increase energy and improve uterine tone. It is important that herbal tonics (teas) be used regularly. Like exercise, they provide far less benefit when used sporadically. That is not to say that it won’t provide benefit if taken on occasion but to reap the full benefits herbal tonics should be taken at least 5 days a week.
One of the most important herbal tonics to take during pregnancy is Red Raspberry Leaf. This is not tea made from raspberries. It is an herbal tea made from the leaves of the raspberry plant. Red Raspberry is the best known, most widely used and safest of all uterine and pregnancy herbs. Most of the benefits that are attributed to Red Raspberry Leaf tea are traced to the nourishing source of vitamins and minerals found in the plant and to fragrine (an alkaloid which gives tone to muscles of the pelvic region and the uterus itself).
Beneficial Vitamins and Minerals Found in Red Raspberry Leaf:
-Rich concentrations of vitamin C
-Easily assimilated calcium and iron
-Manganese and magnesium
-Vitamin B complex
-Many minerals including phosphorous and potassium
How Red Raspberry Leaf Helps the Pregnant Mother & Baby:
The increased vitamin A intake, in the form of carotenoids of RRL can aid the women’s immune system as well as facilitate healthy skin and bone development for the baby. The Vitamin E helps to promote better circulation in the mother whose blood volume dramatically increases during pregnancy. RRL contains an easily assimilated form of calcium. An increased availability of calcium is necessary in controlling nerve response to pain during childbirth and in aiding bone development in the baby. The presence of fragrine allows the uterus to contract more powerfully and effectively during labor. The high vitamin and mineral content helps to replace those that are lost via blood loss in delivery. The alkaloids that are present will also aid in toning the uterus after birth as it returns back to its usual size.
Other Pregnancy Related Benefits of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea:
-It increases fertility in both men and women (drink for a few months while trying to conceive).
-Prevents miscarriage and postpartum hemorrhage by helping to tone the uterus thus creating a relaxed (atonic) uterus.
-Eases morning sickness
-Reduces pain during labor and after birth: By toning the muscles used during labor and delivery RRL eliminates many of the reasons for a painful delivery and prolonged recovery. It does not, however, counter the pain of pelvic dilation.
-Assists in the production of plentiful breast milk
-Can help make labor faster: RRL works to encourage the uterus to let go and function without tension. It doesn’t strengthen contractions but it does allow the uterus to work more efficiently
-Studies show that women taking RRL have a reduced incidence of artificial rupture of membranes, forceps delivery or cesarean
Other Uses for Red Raspberry Leaf:
-Treating the common cold or flu (Treat with a RRL fast. Drink only the tea while your symptoms persist. Once your symptoms are gone return to eating fresh fruits/vegetables.)
-Treating sore throat
-Treating diarrhea (Drink 6 cups a day to treat diarrhea)
-Regulating a menstrual period and decreasing heavy periods (Drink 2-3 cups per day. After 2-3 months you should obtain a regular cycle.)
-Treating Acne: It can act as an astringent on irritated skin by tightening the top layers of skin which effectively reduces secretions, relieves irritation and improves tissue firmness.
-Can be used as a mouth wash to soothe mouth and throat irritations
-Can lower blood sugar in those suffering with diabetes (Those with diabetes must take care not to take RRL in too high of doses or it could actually cause their blood sugar to drop too low).
Possible Side Effects:
Red Raspberry Leaf has been used for thousands of years and is notoriously safe during pregnancy. From the studies that have been done, no side effects were found. Anecdotally, very little side effects have been reported with its use but like all things, side effects are possible and it is not always best for everyone. The following side effects may be possible:
- Mild loosening of stools
- Some doctors recommend not using RRL during the first trimester or limiting yourself to one cup per day. From my own experience, the advice of my midwife and the experience of my friends we have all taken it during the entire pregnancy without any side effects. But again, you are responsible for your own health and if you are concerned seek advice from your caregiver.
Where to Buy It?
Red Raspberry Leaf can be purchased in tincture form (alcohol based), capsule, pre-bagged or in loose leaf form. I recommend loose leaf form because you are most likely to get the best absorption and it is the cheapest form but for those who can’t stomach the taste capsule form is a good alternative. You can buy the loose leaf tea from most health food stores or online.
Some Online Sources:
Compleat Mother: Loose Leaf
Frontier Herbs: Loose Leaf, available in Organic and in Regular
StarWest-Botanicals: Capsule Form
Red Raspberry Tea Blends:
Red Raspberry Leaf can also come in a blend with other herbs and these are great. The additional herbs have their own benefits and they also complement and enhance each other. My own midwife has her own special blend that she uses and sells through her herbal store. She sells two kinds, what she calls a Full Time Pregnancy Tea (to be used during entire pregnancy) and a Six Week Tea (a blend you use for the last six weeks). All of these other herbs have their own benefits but this post would be much too lengthy to elaborate on them. You can easily make your own blends by purchasing the herbs separately or you can buy a prepackaged blend. There are many prepackaged blends on the market as well.
You can order from Sherry’s store, if you wish, and she can ship it to you. She is based in Oregon and her store is called Naturally Yours. Her phone number is 541-575-1241 and the address is 135 West Main St., John Day OR 97845
Sherry’s Full Time Pregnancy Tea:
Organically grown: Nettles, Comfrey, Lemon Grass, Alfalfa and Raspberry Leaf
Last Six Weeks Pregnancy Tea:
Organically grown: Red Raspberry, Partridgeberry, Shepherd’s Purse, Spikenard Root, Nettle, Comfrey, Alfalfa, Blessed Thistle, Peach and Peppermint
How to Prepare the Tea:
If you’re anything like me and you’ve never made tea before the whole thing can seem a bit confusing. So I will post directions for those who were in my shoes. If you bought the tea in loose leaf form (meaning you have a bag full of herbs sitting in front of you) you can either make it one cup at a time or make it in a larger quantity. If you’re going to drink it hot stick to one cup at a time. If you’re like me and prefer it cold it is easiest to make it in a batch. You can sweeten it with honey or sugar if you like or some prefer to squeeze in a fresh lemon or an orange.
If you’ll be making one cup batches you will need something to put the tea in. A reusable tea bag works well or you can buy a little tea infuser (they only run a few dollars and you can buy them in kitchen departments or stores).
One Cup Directions:
Boil some water and pour a cup of boiling water into a mug. Let cool for just a moment (so you don’t burn the tea leaves) and place 1-2 tsp of the tea into the tea infuser or tea bag. Put the infuser or bag into the hot water and steep (let sit) for 10 minutes. Remove tea infuser or tea bag and you can sweeten the tea if you like (honey or sugar). I prefer omitting the sweetening part and I like using fresh squeezed orange. Some people like lemon.
Boil a quart (4 cups) of water in a pan. Once the water is boiling remove it from the stove and add 4-6 tsp of tea directly to the water and stir. Put the lid on the pan and let steep for at least 10 minutes. The longer, the better. Overnight is fine. When you are done steeping you need to strain the water. I use a mesh colander. Take a pitcher, put the colander over it and then pour the liquid/herb combo into the strainer. The herbs will stay in the strainer and the tea will be in the pitcher. I like to fill my pitcher with ice and squeeze fresh oranges into it. You could also sweeten it or use lemon, etc. Put in fridge and enjoy.
How Much Should I Drink?
That is going to depend on who you talk to. Some doctors/midwives recommend a maximum of one cup per day during the first trimester. Others suggest 1-2 cups throughout pregnancy and increasing to a quart (4 cups) a day during the last six to twelve weeks. Personally I did about a cup a day throughout pregnancy and am trying to get a quart in a day now that I am in the last six weeks. Consult your own caregiver, do your own research and do what feels comfortable to you.
I wanted to update everyone and let them know how much I think drinking RRL helped my labor and delivery. I had my son at home and it was about a 9 1/2 hour labor which doesn’t seem very short to some people but compared to my 56 hour labor with my daughter it was heaven. But more important than how long labor was, was the fact that labor was amazingly easy. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard work and everything but it was completely manageable. I never got to the “wall” where I didn’t think I could do it. My contractions and labor progression was steady. In fact, labor could have been much shorter but I sat on a birthing ball for the beginning of labor (rather than walking around and squatting) to try and slow it down to make sure my midwife was there for the birth (she had to drive across the state to make it). I never felt out of it during my contractions and I was able to stay completely present. I actually didn’t believe my midwife when she told me it was time to push, I made her check because I couldn’t believe I had all ready made it though transition. I had my 11 pound 3 ounce boy at home without a tear and it was a wonderful experience. I believe many things contributed to the success of my pregnancy, labor and delivery but Red Rasbperry Leaf Tea was definitely a vital part of that. You can read the birth story HERE.
I just wanted to update and state that I had my 3rd child in May 2012. He was also born at home, as a water birth. I drank red raspberry leaf tea throughout my pregnancy and had the quickest most effective labor yet! Labor was 2 hours from first contraction until he was born. Still hard to believe coming from the mom who had a 56 hour labor with her first child. I know that the tea helped to contribute to my healthy, complication free pregnancy despite the enormous stress I was under (going through a divorce).
I do really recommend Sherry Dress’ teas. She makes them in bulk from organic herbs and she has a few different blends each made for specific stages of pregnancy. She has a Full Time Pregnancy tea, a 6 week tea that you take for the last six weeks and a postpartum breastfeeding tea. Her store is based in Oregon and is called Naturally Yours. You can order by phone at 541-575-1241.