The fruits of the prickly stemmed raspberry plant have been used from time immemorial to lend a pleasant flavor to any number of pharmaceutical preparations. The varieties most popularly used were those of Rubus idaeus L. and R. strigosus Michx. (family Rosaceae). However, it is the leaves that are used in most popular folk remedies. While Rubus idaeus L. is considered native to Europe, Rubus strigosus Michx. is considered to be native to North America. Today, both the species are cultivated extensively all across America.
The raspberry plant is used for its astringent, and for its stimulant properties. When a strong infusion or tea of the plant is taken as a mouthwash or as a gargle, it soothes a sore mouth and also lessens inflammation of the mucous membrane of the throat. The reason may be the substantial content of hydrolyzable tannin in the leaves, which contain both gallic and ellagic acids in the free and combined forms. It also soothes wounds and ulcers when it is applied directly onto them. The plant's moistened leaves can also be used as a poultice. When one drinks cold raspberry leaf tea, it cures stomach ailments and disorders, and also gets rid of diarrhea.
The leaves of Rubus fruticosus L. or the blackberry, with the exception of just one, are used in the same way as raspberry leaves. The blackberry too has similar properties as the raspberry, and it is an excellent astringent, just like the raspberry. However, it is the raspberry whose leaves are much more popular with expectant mothers, who favor it as ‘the drink' because of the fact that it has been widely acknowledged through the years as a literal panacea for everything from morning sickness to prevention of miscarriage and erasing labor pains. In fact, even reputed scientific research recommends the herb as a traditional remedy to decrease painful and profuse menses, and for using before and during pregnancy and confinement.
It has been noticed that an extract of raspberry leaves had little or no impact on the uterine muscles of laboratory animals, but on pregnant rats, it was found to inhibit contractions. Fractions, with as yet unidentified compounds were found to stimulate smooth muscle action, most especially of the uterine muscles, while another fraction was found to reduce uterine contractions. However, adequate clinical studies have not been carried out as yet: these are merely preliminary observations. Therefore, it may be difficult to say whether raspberry actually relaxes the uterine muscles or not, and more questions than answers are raised at this point of time. Fresh raspberry leaves do contain a good amount of vitamin C, as is found in most green plants, but the amount of vitamin C found in commercially dried leaves would depend on the conditions of drying, and also on the amount of time taken in storage, and the manner of storage too.
Raspberry leaves are often quoted to be the most famous of all herbs used during pregnancy, as they have relaxing as well as toning or astringent actions, with particular regard to the uterus and uterine muscles. The astringent and stimulating properties strengthen and tone up the uterine muscles, and the pelvic muscles as well, and the relaxing and soothing properties of the leaves help to relax the uterus. As a matter of fact, raspberry leaves tone up the mucous membranes throughout the body, including the kidneys and the entire urinary tract. Perhaps this is the reason why these leaves successfully alleviate diarrhea, quell the nauseous feeling that women are subjected to during pregnancy, sedate and relax, and arrest hemorrhage. Through the ages, raspberry leaves have been used to ensure a safe and speedy delivery, as also for better lactation, and for a quicker recovery from the birth. The action of raspberry leaves on the smooth muscles of the uterus makes sure that the pain of contraction during childbirth is alleviated, and also that the contractions are speedy and more effective, thus guaranteeing a quick and safe childbirth.
In general, raspberry leaves are taken as a warm infusion. From the third month onwards, the pregnant woman is encouraged to take a cupful daily, and from the sixth month onwards, three cups a day. When it is time for the birth, a teaspoon of composition essence can be added to the infusion, and after the onset of contractions, the woman is encouraged to take a cupful until she can. However, once the digestive system has shut down during childbirth, a few sips of the tea, or even a few drops of the infusion on the tongue would prove to be greatly beneficial to the woman in the pangs of childbirth. Even after the birth, the woman is asked to take the tea, two to three times a day, so that there would be quicker smoothening of the pelvic tissues and uterine muscles.
Today, raspberry leaves are often used to facilitate easier labor, although it is not known why the leaves act as they do. It is believed, however, that they strengthen the longitudinal muscles of the uterus, thereby increasing the strength of the contractions, and thus speeding up childbirth. For diarrhea, an decoction of the leaves is used, and as an astringent the leaves can be used for a great number of ailments, like for example, as eyewash for conjunctivitis, a lotion for ulcers, wounds, mouthwash for mouth problems or excessive vaginal discharge. The fruits can be used for their astringent properties, and they are also highly nutritious.
Habitat and cultivation
The raspberry grows in temperate regions, and is considered native to Asia and Europe. Raspberry generally grows wild, and the leaves can be collected during early summer, while the fruits can be collected when they are ripe, during summer.
How to prepare raspberry tea: pour 250 ml or 1 cup boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of the raspberry herb and steep for 10 - 15 minutes. When the problem is acute, one may have to use up to six cups daily, while during pregnancy, two to three cups are advised. For diarrhea, raspberry alone cannot be sufficient treatment. As raspberry tincture, it can be taken thrice daily 4 - 8 ml.
Side effects and cautions
Raspberry may cause nausea and mild loosening of stools.
Crush the raspberries with a pestle and macerate in the vinegar for 10 days. Carefully strain. Simmer the liquid at low heat and dissolve the sugar. Let cool, bottle, seal and store in a cool place. This rose-colored vinegar is effective, whether pure or diluted, in treating flu, diarrhea, fatigue or even a drop in blood pressure.
Iron - plus syrup
The Iron-Plus Syrup is a wonderful herbal remedy for all women. This formula is taken to include vitamins and minerals that are digestible easily in their diet. This herbal preparation contains elevated levels of vitamin A, calcium, iron and several essential trace minerals. When blended with fruit extract concentrates and sweetener, this is a very delectable mineral vitamin supplement.
Prepare the syrup following the normal steps. Remove the syrup from heat and blend two teaspoonfuls of nutritional yeast and spirulina powder each for every pint of syrup prepared by you. Include 1/ 4 cup of brandy and fruit concentrate each in the blend. It may be noted that fruit concentrates are actually strong fruit extracts from fresh fruits and they not only contain added minerals and vitamins, but also make the syrup delectable. However, you should never add fruit juice to the syrup, because it will only dilute the preparation and may promote fermentation. The recommended dosage of this potent herbal syrup is taking anything between four tablespoons and six tablespoons of it every day.