Orally, red raspberry leaf is used for GI tract disorders, upper
and lower respiratory tract disorders, cardiovascular system
disorders, influenza, swine flu, fever, diabetes, vitamin
deficiency, as a diaphoretic or diuretic, for stimulating
bile production, "purification of skin and blood", diarrhea,
dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, morning sickness associated with
pregnancy, preventing miscarriage, and facilitating labor and
Topically, red raspberry leaf is used for inflammation of the
mouth and throat, and skin rash and inflammation.
In foods, red raspberry is eaten as a fruit and processed into
jams and other foods, and as a flavoring. Red raspberry leaf in
small quantities is a source of natural flavoring in Europe.
LIKELY SAFE ...when used orally in amounts commonly found in
POSSIBLY SAFE ...when used orally and appropriately in
medicinal amounts (4,5).
LIKELY SAFE ...when used orally in amounts commonly found in
POSSIBLY SAFE ...when red raspberry leaf is used orally and
appropriately in medicinal amounts during late pregnancy and
under the supervision of a healthcare provider. Red raspberry
leaf is commonly used by nurse midwives to facilitate delivery.
There is some evidence that red raspberry leaf can be safely used
for this purpose (4,5). Make sure patients do not use red
raspberry leaf without the guidance of a healthcare professional.
LIKELY UNSAFE ...when used orally in medicinal amounts
throughout pregnancy or for self-treatment. Red raspberry leaf
might have estrogenic effects (3). These effects can adversely
affect pregnancy. Tell pregnant patients not to use red raspberry
leaf at any time during pregnancy without the close supervision
of a healthcare provider.
LACTATION: There is insufficient reliable information available
about the safety of using red raspberry leaf in medicinal amounts
while breast-feeding; avoid using.
Labor facilitation. Taking red raspberry leaf orally does not
seem to reduce the length of labor or decrease the need for
analgesics in the perinatal time period (5). There is
insufficient reliable information available about the
effectiveness of red raspberry leaf for its other uses.
Machanism of Action:
The applicable parts of red raspberry are the fruit (berry) and
leaf. Red raspberry contains anthocyanidins, ellagitannins,
flavonols such as quercetin and kaempferol, catechins, and
phenolic acids. Other constituents include ascorbic acid,
beta-carotene, chlorogenic acid, glutathione, and
alpha-tocopherol (7,8 ,6). The contents of the fruit and leaves
vary with maturity (8).
Red raspberry fruit seems to have antioxidant and vasodilatory
properties (9). Preliminary research suggests a ketone
constituent of red raspberry is structurally similar to capsaicin
and synephrine, and might alter lipid metabolism. Theoretically,
this compound might be useful as an anti-obesity agent
Red raspberry leaf also appears to have antioxidant effects (8).
The effects of red raspberry leaf on smooth muscle, such as that
found in the uterus seems to be variable. Different constituents
found in red raspberry leaf seem to either stimulate or contract
uterine smooth muscle. When used in humans, red raspberry leaf
might have either stimulatory or spasmolytic effects. There is
some evidence that these effects might be dose and tissue
dependent. For example, in low doses red raspberry leaf might
cause more contraction, while higher doses might have spasmolytic
effects and decrease contraction. Also, red raspberry might
decrease contraction of tonic tissues and increase contraction of
relaxed tissues (1,2). Red raspberry leaf might also have some
estrogenic effects. In an animal model, red raspberry leaf seems
to increase serum ceruloplasmin oxidase activity, which is a
measure of estrogenic activity in the liver (3).
Interactions with Lab Tests:
Interactions with Diseases or Conditions:
HORMONE SENSITIVE CANCERS/CONDITIONS: Red raspberry leaf might
have estrogenic effects (3). Women with hormone sensitive
conditions should avoid red raspberry leaf including breast,
uterine, and ovarian cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids.
ORAL: For facilitating labor, midwives typically prescribe red
raspberry leaf tea prepared by steeping 2 grams dried leaf in 240
mL of boiling water for 5 minutes and then straining (2). Red
raspberry leaf tablets 2.4 grams per day have been used for
reducing labor pains, starting at 32 weeks gestation through
Red raspberry leaf extract has been used in Europe for centuries.
The therapeutic use of red raspberry leaf was first described in
1597 in The Herbal, or a General History of Plants
Specific References: Raspberry
Bamford DS, Percival RC, Tothill AU. Raspberry leaf tea: a
new aspect to an old problem. Br J Pharmacol
McFarlin BL, Gibson MH, O'Rear J, Harman P. A national survey
of herbal preparation use by nurse-midwives for labor
stimulation. Review of the literature and recommendations for
practice. J Nurse Midwifery 1999;44:20516.
1. Eagon PK, Elm MS, Hunter DS, et al. Medicinal herbs:
modulation of estrogen action. Era of Hope Mtg, Dept
Defense; Breast Cancer Res Prog, Atlanta, GA 2000;Jun
2. Parsons M, Simpson M, Ponton T. Raspberry leaf and its effects
on labour: safety and efficacy. Aust Coll Midwives Inc J
3. Simpson M, Parsons M, Greenwood J, Wade K. Raspberry leaf in
pregnancy: its safety and efficacy in labor. J Midwifery Womens
4. Wada L, Ou B. Antioxidant activity and phenolic content of
Oregon caneberries. J Agric Food Chem 2002;50:3495-500.
5. Wang SY, Jiao H. Scavenging capacity of berry crops on
superoxide radicals, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radicals, and
singlet oxygen. J Agric Food Chem 2000;48:5677-84.
6. Wang SY, Lin HS. Antioxidant activity in fruits and leaves of
blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry varies with cultivar and
developmental stage. J Agric Food Chem
7. Mullen W, McGinn J, Lean ME, et al. Ellagitannins, flavonoids,
and other phenolics in red raspberries and their contribution to
antioxidant capacity and vasorelaxation properties. J Agric Food
8. Morimoto C, Satoh Y, Hara M, et al. Anti-obese action of
raspberry ketone. Life Sci 2005;77:194-204.