Have you ever picked up a fruit or vegetable in the grocery store and wondered what the rest of the plant looks like? Or how about if the rest of the plant is edible or useful in some way? I do this quite frequently, though I'll admit that I'm strange. When I remember these questions and do a bit of research, I often wonder why we never use the rest of the plant. For instance, each and every part of a banana tree is edible, beet greens are every bit as nutritious as spinach, carrot leaves are super tasty, and raspberry leaves are one of the best things a woman can add into her diet.
Raspberries are members of the rose family, rosacea. There are two commonly used for their leaves, Eurasian red raspberry (rubus idaeus) and North American black raspberry (rubus occidentalis). There have been a number of scientific studies done on this herb. Most American studies have used red raspberry, but a number of Chinese studies have branched out and used several different raspberry species. Most of the findings have determined that the berries are delicious and packed full of nutrients and antioxidants, but the leaves contain even more of the active phytochemicals, and so have even more benefits.
Summary of actions- Astringent, antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, emmenagogue, and a slight stimulant.
Traditional Chinese Medicine- In Chinese medicine, raspberry is called Fu Pen Zi or Shan Mei. The primary meridians it works on are the Liver and Kidney meridians. In TCM, the Kidneys rule reproduction, especially in women. This makes a huge amount of sense when you think about how the Kidneys filter our blood, and how blood is such an integral part of the female reproductive cycle. However that leads to raspberry's main uses in TCM. Raspberry stabilizes and tonifies the kidneys, supports Jing, builds both Kidney and Liver Qi, and is typically used for impotence, bed wetting, frequent urination, premature ejaculation, incontinence, to improve eyesight, clear blurred vision, for lower back pain (around the area of the kidneys), infertility, nocturnal emissions, and to stop premature graying.
Highly Nutritious- The berries are known to be extremely nutritious. However the leaves are even more so. They contain huge amounts of Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, and E, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, niacin, and selenium.
Anti-cancer Activity- Several studies have shown that raspberry leaf has major anti-cancer potential in both breast and liver cancers. These same studies show that the leaves are much more potent than the berries.
Pregnancy and Labor- Raspberry is a great help in dealing with morning sickness. Some people attribute this to it's astringent nature, and others attribute this to the high amounts of vitamins and minerals. Either way, it works.
Some midwives and herbalists are cautious with it's use in the first trimester (however I have known several women who have used this in the first trimester with no problems), but it's considered safe after the second trimester has begun. Consult with your doctor/midwife/herbalist before adding this to your routine in early pregnancy.
Not only is raspberry great for helping with morning sickness, but it's super nutritious and helps prepare your body for labor. Women and midwives throughout the world credit raspberry leaf for helping shorten their labor, and prevent hardships during labor. It works extremely well with nettles to help reduce the chance of hemorrhage.
Fertility- Raspberry helps to regulate menses, clear the body of toxins, strengthen the uterus, balance female hormones, and prepares the uterus for pregnancy. This can help in conceiving as well as preventing early miscarriages.
Menstrual Help- Raspberry is used often as a uterine tonic. It also helps balance female hormones. These two actions combine to make Raspberry extremely effective in helping women regulate their menstrual cycles. Not only does it help regulate both the timing and the flow, it also helps reduce cramps, PMS, and other negative side effects that come with menses.
Respiratory Infections- Raspberry leaf tea has been used as a gargle, eyewash, and mouthwash when there have been infections in those areas. It's also been used to help knock out several respiratory infections such as pneumonia bronchitis. Just drink 2-3 cups a day during the infection.
Bowels and Leaky Gut- The astringent properties of raspberry leaf help to reduce diarrhea and strengthen the intestines. This helps to prevent and heal leaky gut issues.
Minor Wounds and Varicose Veins- Astringent herbs are great for dealing with wounds. Raspberry has shown to be no exception. Use it as a wound wash to help speed the healing of minor cuts and scrapes. Use it for sunburns and minor burn wounds. It's also great to help heal varicose veins. Just use a strong tea as a wash, and massage towards the heart. It's also great for eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.
I hope I have given you a little more to think about while picking out produce in your supermarket, or when deciding to grow your own. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them below!
3 Raspberry Leaf Benefits for Women: Herbal Academy: https://theherbalacademy.com/3-raspberry-leaf-benefits-for-women/
Raspberry: East West Healing Academy: https://www.eastwesthealingacademy.com/herbs/raspberry/
Raspberry Leaf: Richard Whelan Medical Herbalist: http://www.rjwhelan.co.nz/herbs%20A-Z/raspberry_leaf.html
Raspberry Leaf Benefits: Herb Wisdom: http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-raspberry-leaf.html
Raspberry Leaf Herb Profile: Wellness Mama: https://wellnessmama.com/5107/raspberry-leaf-herb-profile/
Raspberry Leaf Tea Benefits: Earths Friends: https://www.earthsfriends.com/raspberry-leaf-tea-benefits/
Red Raspberry: Dr Christopher's Herbal Legacy: http://www.herballegacy.com/Corless_Dosages.html
Red Raspberry: Medicinal Herb Info: http://medicinalherbinfo.org/herbs/RedRaspberry.html