The popular bright berry, the red raspberry is eaten with great relish across the globe. A great source of natural flavoring in sweets and savories, the delicious fruit also makes scrumptious jams when processed.
However, one of the most important aspect of red raspberries is its therapeutic properties derived from the leaf of its plant. A widely consumed herb, raspberry leaf has been used as a folk medicine for centuries and raspberry leaf tea has multiple health benefits. From treating morning sickness in pregnant women to providing relief from diarrhea, leg cramps, canker sores, cold sores and gingivitis, raspberry leaf tea is a great home remedy. It can also be used as a uterine relaxant.
The chemicals in red raspberries have antioxidant effects on the blood vessels subsequently helping them to relax. Depending on the dosage taken, red raspberry leaf tea can also cause muscles to contract and relax, which especially helps during labor and delivery.
Alleviation of female ailments
Drinking raspberry leaf tea can alleviate pain during periods. It can bring comfort during heavy periods and balance PMS symptoms. It can reduce nausea and morning sickness too that often occurs during pregnancy.
As stated by Jethro Kloss in his book on herbs, “Back to Eden”, red raspberries have been used by Native Americans for thousands of years as a uterine tonic. Having red raspberry leaf tea can strengthen the uterus during pregnancy and also result in stronger contractions.
In 2001, a study published in the journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health found that women who drank raspberry leaf tea regularly had fewer babies delivered by forceps and also had shorter labors.
It’s important to mention here that raspberry leaf tea does not actually bring on contractions, it only makes contractions more focused and effective.
Furthermore, red raspberry leaf is said to help prevent miscarriage. Some mothers and midwives are of the opinion that red raspberry leaf tea can lower the possibility of a C-section and alleviate third trimester problems such as edema and leg cramps. For new moms, this tea can help regulate postpartum hormones and increase the quantity and quality of breast milk.
Benefits for men
Besides improving reproductive health of women, red raspberry leaf tea is also greatly beneficial for men’s reproductive systems. So much so that it is referred to as a “nourishing reproductive tonic for men”.
Raspberry leaf tea promotes male fertility by detoxifying the excess estrogen than we all get exposed to in our modern environment. So, for example, if a man is in the construction business and is subjected to chemical fumes every day, red raspberry leaf tea can help alleviate some of the fumes’ side effects. Artificial estrogen is also consumed on a daily basis in the form of meat, milk, plastics and food additives.
The consumption of excessive estrogen and heightened levels of stress can result in male menopause or ’andropause’ which is characterized by a drastic drop in testosterone levels. Having red raspberry leaf tea can help mitigate that.
In 2004, a Polish study stated that raspberry leaves are a rich source of tannis, which are phytochemicals that can treat acute diarrhea. Though diarrhea is a problem shared by both the genders, the smell left behind in the washroom after a man’s gastrointestinal discomfort seems to put this problem more in the male territory. Red raspberry leaf tea cures diarrhea and thus lessens the assault on a wife’s olfactory senses.
Anthocyanin is a chemical in red raspberries that gives them their red color. This chemical is known to reduce inflation and relieve pain associated with inflammatory joint conditions such as gout and arthritis. Having red raspberry tea or red raspberry leaf tea three times a day, every day, can potentially make a difference in the amount of anti-inflammatory medications needed to reduce pain during these conditions.
The red raspberry fruit has antioxidant properties that help protect its cell membranes from damage from free radicals. Ellagic acid, quercitin and anthrocyanins are some of the antioxidants found in this nutritious fruit that offer protection against bacteria and fungi. Thus, drinking red raspberry tea is helpful in reducing vaginal yeast infection and irritable bowel disease. It also soothes the mucus lining of bodily tissues.
The Czech Journal of Food Sciences published a study that found that as measured by DPPH free radical scavenging ability, extract of raspberry leaves ranked fourth out of seventeen tested herbal and berry extracts, in terms of antioxidant activity.
As per the study, the antioxidant properties and the effects of raspberry leaf extract were stronger than extracts of rosehip, thyme, mint leaf, nettle flower, chamomile flower, linden flower, and elderflower.
Protection against cancer and age-related diseases
As per the Berry Health Benefits Network, the Medical University of South Carolina’s Hollings Cancer Center performed tests that showed that the body easily absorbs ellagic acid, which is present in red raspberries.
Absorption of ellagic acid contributes to the death of cells in certain kinds of cancers. The cancers that were noted as the most readily affected were tongue, lung, colon, liver, esophageal, skin and breast cancers. Thus, drinking raspberry leaf tea may offer some protection against cancer.
Red raspberry leaf tea also has heart and circulatory benefits resulting in slowing down the advancement of age-related diseases. According to the Berry Health Benefits Network, it is high in vitamin C, gallic acid and other phytonutrients. Heart problems, fever, diabetes, vitamin deficiency, sweating, urination and bile production can all be alleviated by the use of raspberry leaf tea.
To make a perfect cup of red raspberry leaf tea, simply immerse one tea bag in a cup of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. Bleach free tea bags are preferable since they are healthier and do not tamper with the taste of the herb. If you want to liven up the flavor a bit, add brown sugar, lemon or honey.
As healthy as red raspberry leaf tea is, it has to be drunk with caution in some cases. Red raspberries might act like estrogen which may not be safe for conditions that are hormone sensitive such as uterine fibroids, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and endometriosis. Red raspberry leaf tea should be avoided if you have any condition that can worsen due to exposure to estrogen.