Top 9 health benefits of raspberry leaf tea
Nutritionist Kerry Torrens explains the benefits of raspberry leaf tea, both as a herbal remedy and as a support during pregnancy
What is raspberry leaf tea?
Raspberries (Rubus idaeus) are popular red berries that are native to Europe and parts of Asia. It’s the leaf of the plant that is used to make the herbal tea of the same name. Raspberry leaf tea has been used over many years to treat certain ailments and to facilitate labour and childbirth. However, evidence for its benefits is weak and more research is needed to assess its efficacy.
The tea can be purchased loose as leaves, in tea bags (check the product is made from 100% leaves) or in tablet form. Alternatively, you can make your own infusion using dried raspberry leaves. The astringency of the leaves produces a tea similar in taste to black tea, although commercial blends often combine the leaf with a sweeter tasting herb, such as peppermint.
To make raspberry leaf tea:
Bring water to the boil in a small pan and allow to cool slightly. Add 2 tbsp dried raspberry leaves, cover and steep for 15-30 minutes. Strain and sweeten to taste. If you wish to collect leaves to dry, they should be collected during or shortly after the plant has flowered.
Discover our full range of health benefit guides and read more about the profile of other teas in our series, including the health benefits of green tea, ginger tea, peppermint tea, chamomile tea and rooibos tea.
Nutritional benefits of raspberry leaf tea
Raspberry leaves contain B group vitamins and vitamins C and E, as well as the minerals calcium, magnesium and zinc. The leaves are also a source of protective plant compounds such as bioflavonoids and tannins. The herbal infusion is caffeine free.
Top 9 health benefits of raspberry leaf tea
1. A source of protective antioxidants
Plant compounds called polyphenols are known to protect the body against disease. They also make an important contribution towards a healthy, balanced diet. Raspberry leaves contain antioxidising polyphenols – namely, tannins, bioflavonoids and alkaloids – it’s the latter that are said to tone and relax the pelvic and uterine muscles. Despite lower levels of polyphenols than green or black tea, those of raspberry leaf tea are on a par with fruit drinks and white wine.
2. Digestive support
Taken to support indigestion, bloating and diarrhoea, raspberry leaf tea may provide some relief. The tea is thought to have a mild diuretic effect which may help reduce the bloating associated with fluid retention.
3. Relieves mouth ulcers, sore throats and gum disease
Used as a mouthwash, this astringent tea may relieve the discomfort of mouth ulcers, sore throats and gum disease.
4. Alleviates inflammatory conditions
Historically, an infusion of raspberry leaf has been used as an eyewash for inflammatory eye conditions such as conjunctivitis. It has also been used topically to ease the irritation of skin rashes.
5. Menstrual cramping and water retention
Raspberry leaf contains fragrine, which helps tone and tighten the muscles in the pelvic area. As a result, it may be beneficial in reducing mild period cramping. Research is scant but a long history of anecdotal reports appear to support the tea’s use easing cramps.
The infusion is also believed to have a mild diuretic effect and may reduce the puffiness associated with water retention during menstruation and pregnancy.
6. May support late stage of pregnancy
A popular choice during pregnancy, raspberry leaf is thought to strengthen and tone the uterus and thus potentially facilitate labour. Evidence for its safe use is weak and more research is needed to assess the leaf’s effectiveness.
Taken as a daily tea (1-3 cups per day) from about week 32 of pregnancy, it is thought to prime the uterus by increasing blood flow and toning the uterine muscles. However, mums-to-be should avoid consumption too early in their pregnancy and too close to their due date.
7. Morning sickness
Anecdotal reports suggest that raspberry leaf tea may help ease morning sickness. However, as symptoms of pregnancy nausea typically occur in early pregnancy and ease by the second trimester, it’s advisable to check with your midwife or GP before consuming the tea. Raspberry leaf tea is not recommended during the early stages of pregnancy.
8. Assists during childbirth
Some studies suggest that raspberry leaf tea may help improve labour outcomes and reduce the need for medical interventions, such as C-section or a forceps delivery. This may be attributed to the increased tone and improved functionality of the uterine muscle.
9. Perimenopausal menstrual flow
Although raspberry leaf tea hasn’t been specifically linked to the alleviation of perimenopausal symptoms, it may help lessen heavy menstrual flow and cramping.
Is raspberry leaf tea safe for everyone?
For most healthy adults, raspberry leaf tea appears to be a safe, mild herb when consumed in modest amounts of 1-3 cups per day. However, it is not recommended for children or young people under the age of 18 years.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) supports the use of the tea as a medicine for the relief of mild period cramps, mouth or throat inflammation and diarrhoea. Although insufficient evidence from clinical trials is available to support the EMA’s findings, they arrived at their conclusion based on the ‘traditional use’ of the herb over 30 or more years.
And, while clinical studies have not found a higher incidence of adverse pregnancy outcomes, there remains insufficient evidence to support its efficacy and safety for pregnant women. That said, raspberry leaf tea continues to be a popular pregnancy choice and has a long history of use.
Nevertheless, be advised that if you’re pregnant and meet any one of the following criteria it is best that you avoid drinking raspberry leaf tea:
• have health complications such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes
• are expecting a breech birth
• are close to your due date
• have had a previous short labour of 3 hours or less
• have had a previous premature birth
• have a planned C-section or have had a previous C-section
• are expecting twins
• have experienced bleeding in the second half of your pregnancy
The tea should also be avoided by those who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, endometriosis or fibroids.
Other side effects that may be experienced include a mild diuretic or laxative effect.
A few final thoughts
Although commonly used for centuries, there is still relatively little known about exactly how the active compounds in raspberry leaf tea work. Any beneficial effects are believed to depend on the herbal preparation used and the stage of pregnancy at which it is taken.
If you are pregnant and considering raspberry leaf tea, speak with your midwife, doula or GP before drinking the infusion or taking raspberry leaf capsules.
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If you’re considering taking raspberry leaf tea or the capsules, first consult your GP or midwife to ensure you can do so without risk to your health or that of your baby.
Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a registered nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food. Find her on Instagram at @kerry_torrens_nutrition_
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