North America and Canada
Leaves and fruit
The fruit and leaves of the Raspberry bush have an extremely long history of human consumption that stretches all the way back to prehistoric times. Archaeological evidence shows that Palaeolithic cave dwellers ate raspberries and this delectable fruit has been a part of the human diet ever since!
Whilst the Raspberry was prized for its sweet, juicy red fruit, the leaves were highly valued for their medicinal properties – especially for problems that affected the fairer sex. Teas, tisanes and tinctures prepared from the leaves have been extensively used to ease menstrual cramps, aid in childbirth, promote lactation and much more.
These succulent red berries are high in fibre, water and prebiotic compounds. The high fibre and water content can help to prevent constipation and keep the digestive tract healthy. Ensuring we are getting enough dietary fibre promotes regular bowel movements and helps to delay gastric emptying – meaning you feel fuller for longer.
The prebiotic compounds in Raspberries feed the healthy probiotic colonies that live in all areas of the digestive system. A healthy gut will enhance nutrient absorption which in turn will boost overall health.
Raspberries are a rich source of manganese, a compound that is needed to activate the necessary enzymes needed to metabolise cholesterol, amino acids and carbohydrates.
Raspberry leaf tea can also be consumed as a digestive tonic. It is effective in stimulating and harmonising the digestive system and can help in cases of nausea, indigestion, constipation and diarrhoea.
One of the biggest fads to hit the world of dieting in recent decades was the discovery of Raspberry ketones for miraculous weight loss.
Whilst some research has found that the ketones found in Raspberries do enhance lipid (fat) metabolism, it is always important to base any weight-loss regimen on a healthy diet and a program of exercise. The way ketones do this is by increasing levels of adiponectin, a protein which accelerates the breakdown of fat.
Another excellent reason to include Raspberries in a healthy weight loss plan is that they are fat-free and have a low glycaemic index (GI). Low GI foods have a minimal impact on blood sugar, meaning your blood sugar levels won’t spike, leading to a crash that can trigger sugar cravings.
As a uterine tonic, Raspberry Leaf is hard to beat. Used for millennia to support women throughout their reproductive lives, Raspberry Leaf contains a plant alkaloid known as fragarine which has been found to simultaneously tone and relax the uterine muscle which helps to balance the muscular action of the uterus.
It also has astringent properties which work together with fragarine to help tighten and tone the uterine and pelvic muscles. This action can help to alleviate menstrual cramping, excessive bleeding and may be of assistance in cases of uterine prolapse.
Pregnancy / Childbirth
Throughout pregnancy and childbirth, Raspberry Leaf has long been recommended by herbalists and midwives to help prepare the uterus for an effective birth. Its unique action in relaxing over tense muscles and tightening and toning over relaxed muscles, Raspberry Leaf enables the uterus to contract effectively during childbirth.
Many studies have backed up what were once thought of as “old wives’ tales” about this herb. In one study published in the “Australian College of Midwives Journal”, 108 mothers to be were divided into two groups. It was found that the group who consumed Raspberry Leaf products experienced shorter labour and neither the mother or baby had any identifiable side effects.
Furthermore, the American Pregnancy Association recommends that drinking the tea reduces the need for intervention in childbirth.
Postnatally, the astringent qualities of Raspberry Leaf act on the uterus, restoring tone whilst helping with bleeding and swelling. Additionally, it is thought to enrich breast milk and promote healthy lactation.
Raspberry Leaf Tea
Use 1 - 2 teaspoons per cup and let the leaves steep for 5 minutes.
Raspberry Leaf Tincture
Can be added to water or fruit juice. Traditionally taken 2 - 4 mls upto three times per day, or as directed by a Herbal Practitioner.
Add to smoothies, baked goods or use as a natural flavouring.
It is believed that Roman soldiers spread the cultivation of the Raspberry bush throughout Europe. It gradually grew in popularity over the centuries, and by the 1500's, Raspberries were cultivated all over Europe.
The 13th century English king, Edward I, is credited with encouraging the cultivation of Raspberries throughout England.
In Medieval Europe, Raspberries were considered both medicinal and nutritional. Their juices were also used in paintings and in the illuminated religious manuscripts.
When settlers from Europe came to America, they found Native Americans already utilising and eating raspberries. Due to the nomadic nature of this culture, berries were dried for preservation and ease of transportation. Settlers also brought cultivated raspberries that were native to Europe with them to the new colonies.
Polypeptides, flavonoids, mainly kaempferol and quercitin, tannins, fruit sugar, volatile oil, pectin, citric acid, malic acid.
There is some controversy around when to consume Raspberry Leaf during pregnancy. Most herbalists recommend starting around the 2nd or 3rd trimester. Please contact your healthcare practitioner before consuming Raspberry Leaf products during pregnancy.