Raspberry leaf is probably my favorite herb and definitely the one I consume the most because of its amazing nutrient profile. I even use it in my homemade multivitamin tincture.
While the taste is nothing like raspberries, it has gentle taste similar to regular black tea (but without the caffeine).
Raspberry leaf is generally known for its benefits during pregnancy, but its nutrient profile makes it an excellent choice for women at any stage of life as it helps support female health in many ways.
Why Use Raspberry Leaf?
As its name suggests, raspberry leaf is the leaf of the raspberry plant. Also known as “the woman’s herb,” it is naturally high in vitamins and minerals we need for female health specifically: magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamins B, A, C, and E. The high level of B vitamins in particular makes it useful for relieving nausea, soothing leg cramps, and improving sleep. (Symptoms that definitely increase during pregnancy!)
The high concentration of vitamin C in raspberry leaf makes it great during illness and I use it in a variety of my favorite herbal tea recipes for immune support during sickness. It’s soothing and tasty (and the fact that it’s safe to give to kids really helps!). I explain why a little extra vitamin C support is good for health here.
Pregnancy and Labor
The specific combination of nutrients in raspberry leaf makes it extremely beneficial for the female reproductive system. It strengthens the uterus and pelvic muscles which some midwives say leads to shorter and easier labors.
This study published in a midwifery journal gives some support to the anecdotal evidence. In a control group of 108 women, about 50% took red raspberry leaf throughout the pregnancy. In their words, the result seem to indicate that “women who ingest raspberry leaf might be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes, or require a caesarean section, forceps or vacuum birth than the women in the control group.”
I personally use it as a tea throughout pregnancy, even in the first trimester, as I’ve never seen any conclusive reason not to and the health benefits are wonderful during pregnancy, but I’d definitely consult a midwife or doctor before taking any herb while pregnant.
I also use it in this herbal tea blend for nursing moms. It’s a great choice at this time because of its safety profile and flavor, not to mention its other benefits.
As I mentioned, red raspberry leaf isn’t just for pregnant women. Many women claim it helps ease the symptoms of PMS, endometriosis, and menopause, and some couples find it helpful when trying to conceive. This is due to its high vitamin and mineral content, which helps balance hormones and strengthens the walls of uterus and the general pelvic area. Because these nutrients are coming from a food-based source, they are highly absorbable and better than a supplement (in my opinion!).
The tannins in raspberry leaf give it astringent properties which make it soothing both internally and externally. A strong raspberry leaf tea or tincture will sooth sunburn, eczema, and rashes when used externally. Swishing with a tincture or infusion of raspberry leaf is great for the gums and can help alleviate the symptoms of gingivitis or gum disease.
How to Take Red Raspberry Leaf
I like to take this mainly as an herbal tea, which I drink iced in the summer and hot in the winter. I also make a pregnancy tea using 4 parts raspberry leaf and 1 part nettle leaf. You can also add 1 part peppermint leaf for help with nausea during early pregnancy.
For those trying to improve fertility, it is recommended to consume three or more cups daily. I also consume this amount during pregnancy. It tastes very similar to regular tea without the caffeine, which makes it wonderful in the evening. If you’re a tea drinker, consider adding this in place of regular tea.
How to Brew Raspberry Leaf Tea
Pour 8 ounces of boiling water over 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of raspberry leaf (depending on how strong you like your tea). Steep, covered, for at least 5 minutes and drink as regular tea.
I often keep a gallon of cold raspberry leaf tea in the fridge so that I don’t have to brew by the cup. To make a gallon, just use 3/4 to 1 cup of raspberry leaf per gallon of boiling water. I pour the herbs and boiling water into a gallon glass jar, cover with a plate, and leave overnight before straining for a strong tea.
Starting off with one cup per day and then keeping consumption to no more than 3 cups in a day is recommended.
Check out my favorite herbal tea blends here … many of them include raspberry leaf!
How to Make a Tincture
You can also make a tincture of raspberry leaf using the same proportions that you use to make chamomile tincture. This is great for the skin if used externally and to help alleviate PMS, menstrual troubles, heavy bleeding and infertility when used internally.
Is It Safe for Pregnancy?
In the health world there must, of course, always be some controversy, so it’s worth mentioning that some sources recommended avoiding raspberry leaf in the first trimester.
Though I’ve used red raspberry leaf in all of my pregnancies without a problem, some speculate that it shouldn’t be used until later in the pregnancy, thinking that there could be a risk of miscarriage. I’ve never found any evidence of it being a problem, but of course, any pregnant woman should consult her own doctor or midwife before taking anything during pregnancy.
This article explains where some of this speculation comes from:
Some medical and popular media make reference to raspberry leaf tea as something to avoid during pregnancy for risk of miscarriage. This notion stems from a study conducted in 1954 where fractions were isolated from Rubus sp. and applied in vitro to the uterine tissues of guinea pigs and frogs. The scientists discovered such things as one fraction acted as a spasmolytic whereas another caused uterine contractions. Herein lies the risk of isolating the parts of a whole. When used as a whole plant, neither action is exacerbated and the herb is deemed safe. If a mother is prone to miscarriages she may feel safer avoiding raspberry until the third trimester. This is an herb with centuries of safe use behind it, there is usually little cause for concern.
To date there is little clinical data on the safety of herbs during pregnancy, but the anecdotal evidence and long history of use in many cultures seems to indicate raspberry leaf is quite safe.
Where to Buy Raspberry Leaf
I order dried raspberry leaf in bulk to make into tea, infusions, or tinctures. We go through a bag pretty quickly since my kids love it too!
Try red raspberry leaf tea as your tasty new nightcap or in your favorite herbal blend. It’s a delicious addition to your herbal remedy cabinet and one I highly recommend in or outside of pregnancy.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Betsy Greenleaf, the first board certified female urogynecologist in the United States. She is double board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, as well as Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Do you use raspberry leaf? Ready to start? Share below!
Discussion (177 Comments)
Some teas can be steeped more than once. Would there be any benefit to re-steeping the leaves especially if the first steep was only five minutes?
You can re-steep it. it won’t be quite as strong as the first time but it won’t hurt or change the taste much…
Hi, thank you so much for your article! I go to your site very often for well researched information! Is there a raspberry leaf tincture that you would recommend? I’d love to make my own, but there’s not enough time before I deliver. I’ve seen a 1:3 ratio as well as 1:5. Do you know which is better? Thank you so much!
Any advice on making it from the fresh leaves? We have a ton of raspberries in our yard and I’d love to skip the drying step this summer. Do you know what amount of fresh leaves I’d need to use to get the right strength?
I’m not sure, you’d have to experiment… let me know how it goes!
I used fresh leaves, and used about 9 leaves. I used about maybe 1-2 cups of water (I think) and it turned out fine! XD
I read that you can make the tea from fresh or dried leaves but not wilted or half dried leaves. There is some chemical in them during the drying process that can give you an upset stomach.
I picked a handful of leaves, boiled then for a few, stained them and let it cool. I added some honey and it tastes great!
Be careful! You dont want to use wilted or partially dried leaves. They are toxic and can cause vomiting etc. I would personally pick fresh and immediately dry them fully..
I took Raspberry Leaf tea in the first trimester of my first pregnancy on the advice of my sister. It caused a miscarriage at 11 weeks gestation. Please consult a doctor before taking this in the first trimester.
Heather – I am so sorry for your loss. I just wanted to say that I had 6 healthy pregnancies and babies drinking red raspberry tea the entire pregnancy. I had two miscarriages in 2017 and did not drink red raspberry at all those pregnancies. It may be that you had a miscarriage due to something other than the red raspberry. It’s so hard to know the exact cause.
i really need to start drinking RRL tea again!
Is there any reason not to drink this while nursing?
It can actually increase milk supply…
Any similar uses for blackberry leaves? I have three huge blackberry bushes at my house and love to use the leaves!
Unfortunately, I don’t think they have the same properties…
very useful for allergies, though not similar to red raspberry
Black raspberry leaves are used here all the time for diarrhea. Proven time and time again to stop even the worse cases. There are other benefits but we keep this around all year long for just that problem. Here in the Ozarks, we have tons of this growing wild and everywhere else in between…good thing to have on hand.
I guess if it’s ok to drink pregnant and for toddlers, it’s ok to drink when nursing?
I drink all the time while nursing… helps milk supply!
I have lots of raspberries and I wonder if I can just dry out the leaves (after they grow raspberries?). Does it have to be from a particular species of raspberries? Thanks!
You can harvest any wild or domestic version that is suitable for eating 🙂
Are the ratios given for dry or fresh raspbeery leaves? Thank you.
I have a jar of leaves I dried from my friend’s raspberry plant. They work SO well! A youtube video explained that it is best to take leaves from green vines vs the reddish/brownish ones because the green vine is new growth.
I think the leaf is picked and dried befor the fruit comes out
I also have rasberries that grow naturally on my property, experimenting with the leaves in any way (don’t smoke them) by boiling or drying could be beneficial
Is there any reason a toddler shouldn’t drink your pregnancy tea? I’ve been making it for myself, but inevitably my 15 month old steals my cup and drinks some. He loves it!! I don’t let him drink much since I’m not sure if it’s good for him, but if it’s not harmful (possibly beneficial??) then I could let him have some….
I give it to my kids all the time 🙂
I want your energy drink recipe! Maybe i’ll finally be able to get my husband to stop drinking those awful red bulls!
Thanks for the info on this herb. I have a large bag of it in my freezer but ( I think I’ve posted this before), I’m not a big tea drinker. I do have some capsules that I could fill with raspberry leaf to take…would that give me the same benefits? If so, how much do you recommend taking? Thanks!!
Yes, also wondering about non-tea formats. How about sprinkling some of the herbs in a smoothie, or simply eating them? Would that give the same benefits? Thanks.