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 delivery.
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 foods (9). POSSIBLY SAFE ...when used orally and appropriately in medicinal amounts (4,5). PREGNANCY: LIKELY SAFE ...when used orally in amounts commonly found in foods (9). 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 (10). 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 Foods:
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 labor (5).
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 (1).
Specific References: Raspberry
Bamford DS, Percival RC, Tothill AU. Raspberry leaf tea: a new aspect to an old problem. Br J Pharmacol 1970;40:161P-162P
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 8-11.
2. Parsons M, Simpson M, Ponton T. Raspberry leaf and its effects on labour: safety and efficacy. Aust Coll Midwives Inc J 1999;12:20-5.
3. Simpson M, Parsons M, Greenwood J, Wade K. Raspberry leaf in pregnancy: its safety and efficacy in labor. J Midwifery Womens Health 2001;46:51-9.
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 2000;48:140-6.
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 Chem 2002;50:5191-6.
8. Morimoto C, Satoh Y, Hara M, et al. Anti-obese action of raspberry ketone. Life Sci 2005;77:194-204.