One of my most favorite tonic herbal teas is red raspberry leaf. An unsung hero of herbal medicine, raspberry leaf is the humble green portion of the more famous luscious berry – known for it’s gentle healing for many centuries due to it’s safe, nutritious and tonic properties.
Native to Europe and Asia, Rubus idaeus, is named after Mount Ida in Asia Minor – according to the Ancient Greeks, the home of the Raspberry. In Europe, domestication of the raspberry was first mentioned by Roman writers in the 4th century with the fruits eaten or used for flavouring drinks, and the leaves used for making tea. Cultivated in temperate regions worldwide, raspberry bush is in the family Rosacaea, a relative of the rose, with other wild species, too (i.e., Rubus strigosa).
Historically substituted for black tea, when real tea was either too precious, or too rare to procure, raspberry leaf does taste a bit like a mild black tea, with tonic, astringent actions, and a gentle sweet, earthy flavor that resonates well on the palate. Delicious on it’s own, or easily harmonized with other herbs, raspberry leaf provides a great base from which to build your own custom herbal.
The healthful properties in the leaves are so valuable, raspberry leaf is known as the “Woman’s Herb” – although it is very beneficial for the elderly, anyone in recovery, teenagers, men and children, too. Abundant in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, raspberry leaf is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, vitamins A, B, C and E, plus important trace minerals such as manganese, zinc and chromium. Raspberry leaf also contains volatile oils, flavonoids and tannins (i.e., like tea) and fragrine – an alkaloid that tones the tissues – which provides both a relaxant and tonifying action on blood vessels, and muscles. These nutrients make raspberry leaf an excellent prevention and treatment for anemia and leg cramps, and beneficial for hypertension, too. It’s astringent and tonic action also provides tone to the mucous membranes throughout the body, soothes the kidneys and urinary tract, and makes raspberry leaf an excellent treatment for diarrhea or hemorrhage.
Throughout history, raspberry leaves have been used principally to encourage a safe, easy and speedy childbirth. Because raspberry leaf has both relaxing and tonifying actions, with a particular affinity for the uterine muscles, regular drinking throughout pregnancy strengthens and tones tissues, helping contractions, eases labor and delivery and checks hemorrhage during labour. The most famous of all herbs used during pregnancy, raspberry leaf also allays morning sickness and prevents post-partum depression. (Please note: raspberry leaf does not start labor or promote contractions and is NOT an emmenagogue or oxytocic herb. Although often reported as safe throughout pregnancy, always check with your healthcare provider and/or midwife regarding specific doses when pregnant).
The most famous herbal for women, raspberry leaf is well-known for easing symptoms of painful cramps or lengthy periods, and also greatly assists women at menopause, since the adrenals are geared to take over as the ovaries gradually cease functioning; and many menopausal symptoms are caused by exhausted adrenals, which raspberry leaf supports. Men in mid-life crisis with exhausted adrenals are well-advised to drink the tea, as well, for raspberry leaf is tremendously beneficial for men, too! Raspberry leaf’s nutritive, tonifying and antioxidant qualities promotes fertility in men and women, too, especially when combined with red clover (see Essential Tonic).
Whether you need a boost of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, want to relax and tone your body parts, or enhance fertility! raspberry leaf is a powerhouse of nutrients that makes a safe, soothing, great tasting tea to drink hot or cold; morning, noon or night.
Wild Sage Organic Tonic Herbals honors red raspberry leaf by using the freshest, highest quality, certified organic raspberry leaf, regionally-sourced, in our herbal blends. The following herbals were created with raspberry leaf as a key herb (see Tonic Herbals or Shop for full tea descriptions):
Kavalander – very beneficial for stress, tension, anxiety, muscle cramps, and urinary tract issues.
Daily Puritea – very beneficial for cleansing, purification, tonification, liver health and hormone balance.
Harvest wild or tame raspberry leaves in spring or mid-summer for maximum potency. Use them freshly picked, or they can be easily dried for storage away from the light.
SC Walker, Herbalist/Geologist/Alchemist promotes nature’s wisdom with healing herbs, “the people’s medicine”.