Although raspberries are consumed throughout the world, raspberry leaf is one of those herbal remedies that not many people have heard of. That's probably because it has a very narrow focus - 90% of the time it is used by pregnant women. Other ailments that may benefit from it include stomach upsets and throat infections.
Raspberry has a long history in ancient Europe and in referenced in many ancient texts, but its exact origin is unproven.
Raspberry is now grown commercially across North America and Europe. The leaf itself is pale green and rich with many vitamins and minerals.
The primary use for raspberry leaf is undoubtedly during pregnancy, when it supports and strengthens the mother's body in many ways. It has a powerful combination of vitamins A, B, C, and D, plus the minerals phosphorus, potassium and calcium.
Vitamin A works by boosting the mother's immune system, at a time when she is particularly vulnerable. It also helps the baby to develop its skin and bones properly.
During pregnancy the mother's circulatory system is greatly expanded. Vitamin E helps by enabling red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body more effectively. It also promotes healing and allows the mother's body to recover more quickly.
Calcium is another vital substance for pregnant mothers. It aids proper bone development in the baby, while regulating the mother's nerve cells and reducing pain during childbirth.
Generally, raspberry leaf provides a wonderful natural mixture with positive and varied effects for the mother and child. Even after birth, this potent combination of vitamins and minerals helps to replace nutrients lost during the trauma of childbirth.
Away from pregnancy, raspberry leaf can be used as a gentle anti-inflammatory, and a soothing remedy for stomach upsets and diarrhea. It has a mild formula that is often used for children. Additionally it is taken as a mouthwash to calm mouth and throat infections.
Obviously raspberries are eaten throughout the world, but the raspberry leaves are used for little else besides pregnancy. Tradition uses for raspberry in European cuisine include wine, vinegar and brandy.
Raspberry leaf is usually consumed through a tea or infusion. Just use approximately one ounce of the dried leaves for every 2 cups of tea. It can be drunk hot or cold, with many patients taking it cold for stomach problems or throat infections.
It is thought that raspberry leaf may lower blood sugar levels, so diabetics should avoid it. In addition, although it is useful for pregnancy, it has not been tested on young children, so breastfeeding mothers should take vitamin supplements instead.
As always, be sure to consult your doctor before beginning a course of herbal treatment.