Raspberry Leaf & Women’s Health
As a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), I love talking to women about a holistic approach to taking charge of their health and wellness. There are so many aspects of wellness that include nutrition and supplements.
*DISCLAIMER: I am a Certified Nurse Midwife, but I am not YOUR Certified Nurse Midwife. Information here is for educational purposes and not medical advice. Please have a discussion with your health care provider before adding Raspberry Leaf to your regimen.*
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Raspberry Leaf is a supplement that is beneficial to most, if not all, women. Raspberries have been documented as far back as the 1st century B.C. Greek and Roman documents describe the use of raspberries for laxatives, indigestion, and rheumatism. John Gerard, an English herbalist, wrote about the benefits of raspberries in General Historie of Plantes in 1597; he described the brewing of raspberry leaves with honey, alum, and white wine. This concoction was used for sore mouth/throat, wound cleansing, skin ulcers, and during pregnancy (Johnson, Foster, Low Dog & Kiefer, 2014).
In present day, Raspberry Leaf is used in Women’s Health. I remember a conversation a fellow midwife and I were having about Raspberry Leaf within the hospital setting. We agreed that Raspberry Leaf should be an option for all women! It is widely believed that the natural chemical makeup of herbal remedies is better absorbed than medications made in a lab. Natural remedies pair well with a holistic, organic lifestyle. Natural remedies are often more affordable, less side effects, and easier to obtain. Frequent uses of Raspberry Leaf include:
- Uterotonic (toning and strengthening the uterus) Remember the uterus is a muscle! An example I like to give with my patients is that of using weights to tone our biceps and triceps to be strong. Or look good in a sleeveless dress. We have to tone our muscles to increase their strength! Uterus. Biceps. Triceps.
- Helping regulate menstrual cycles. This is attributed to the uterotonic characteristics of the plant.
- Decreasing heavy menstrual flow. Again, attributed to the uterotonic characteristics of the plant! By regulating the menstrual cycle, the flow may be decreased as there aren’t prolonged times without a menstrual cycle where the lining of the uterus continues to build up. A thickened endometrium (lining of the uterus) can cause heavy bleeding once it sheds and a menstrual bleed occurs.
- Strengthening the muscles of the pelvis. Again…uterotonic!
- Shortening labor and easing delivery. A study out of Australia found that women who were taking 1,200 mg red raspberry capsules twice daily had a shorter second stage of labor. The second stage of labor is the “pushing”!
So how is raspberry leaf available?
Capsules: Raspberry capsules can be purchased over the counter. There is no need to have a prescription. The general recommendation is 500-600 mg of Raspberry Leaf capsules 2-4 times daily.
Tea: Some choose to grow their own herbs. To brew Raspberry Leaf Tea steep 1-2 teaspoons dried raspberry leaves in 1 cup water for 5 minutes. Strain and add honey/lemon etc as desired.
Raspberry Leaf tea is available in commercial blends over the counter. I have seen Raspberry Leaf teabags in pharmacies, grocery stores, box stores, and online shopping sites. The general recommendation is 1 cup 1-3 times daily.
To date, raspberry leaf appears to be safe with no adverse outcomes reported in studies. But, as always, check with your provider before adding raspberry leaf to your regimen!
Johnson, R.L., Foster, S., Low Dog, T. & Kiefer, D. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World’s Most Effective Healing Plants. The National Geographic Society: Washington, D.C. (2014).