Raspberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, manganese, folic acid, magnesium, copper, and iron. The fiber helps digestive and gastrointestinal problems. The folic acid and magnesium help maintain heart health. The chemical tannin helps reduce irritation of the respiratory tract. One cup of raspberries contains just 60 calories, about 60 percent of your recommended daily intake of manganese and about 50 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Raspberry can be found in capsule, tea and liquid extract form.
The medicinal parts are the leaves and fruit.
Flower and Fruit
The white flowers are in cymes. The calyx has 5 sepals and the corolla is 5-petalled. There are numerous stamens and ovaries. Similar to the blackberry, the small fruit forms a red aggregate fruit, the raspberry.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
Raspberry is a 2 m high deciduous bush with erect, woody stems, which are densely covered in tough thorns. The aerial part is usually biennial while the creeping root is perennial. The leaves are pale green. There are 3 leaves that sit atop 7 leaflets.
The plant is indigenous to Europe and Asia and is cultivated in temperate climates.
Raspberry leaf consists of the leaf of Rubus idaeus.
Not to be Confused With
Actions & Pharmacology
Tannins: gallo tannins, ellagic tannins
The main active agents are tannin, flavonoids, and vitamin C. The tannins give the fruit an astringent effect. In addition to tannins, active constituents of extracts of raspberry leaves include a smooth-muscle stimulant, an anticholinesterase, and a spasmolytic (Newall et al, 1996; Beckett et al, 1954).
Raspberry leaf's tannin content (between 13% and 15%) is responsible for its astringent properties. Applied topically to mucous membranes or abraded skin, tannins have a local anti-inflammatory effect, produce capillary vasoconstriction, and decrease vascular permeability (Jellin et al, 2000). Astringency of the leaves accounts for its effectiveness in extracts and as a poultice applied to skin wounds. This astringency also contributes to decreasing mucous discharge from the eyes (Briggs & Briggs, 1997).
Active constituents in aqueous extracts of raspberry leaves include a smooth muscle stimulant, an anticholinesterase, and an antispasmodic that antagonizes the stimulant action of the two former fractions. The smooth muscle stimulant fraction has greater effect in uterine muscle (Newall et al, 1996). Results of animal studies indicate that raspberry can reduce and initiate uterine contractions (Newall et al, 1996). As incoordination of uterine action is a major problem in obstetrics, it may be that extract of raspberry leaf produces more coordinated labor contractions (Parsons et al, 1999).
A related species, Rubus fructicosus, has hypoglycemic effects in both non-diabetic and diabetic rabbits. This slight hypoglycemic activity is thought to be produced from increased insulin liberation, which may be related to the astringency of raspberry tannins (Newall et al, 1996).
A leaf infusion of raspberry inhibited contractions of uterine strips from pregnant rats and from human uteri at 10 to 16 weeks of pregnancy while having little or no effect on uterine strips from non-pregnant rats and humans. With exposure to the infusion, the intrinsic rhythm of pregnant rat and human uteri became more regular, with less frequent contractions in most cases. After 3 to 4 minutes of inhibition, intrinsic contractions resumed (Bamford et al, 1970).
Results of a retrospective, observational study investigating effects of raspberry-leaf products on labor and birth outcomes in pregnant women indicate no difference between women who took the products and those who did not as to average gestation period, likelihood of medical augmentation of labor, occurrence of meconium liquid in the infant, or need for epidural block. Significant variance between groups in measures of time for first-stage labor necessitated application of an unequal-variance assumption to the t-test of difference between means, which suggests they did not differ significantly, although a tendency toward a decrease in time for first-stage labor in women taking raspberry-leaf products was observed. Records were accessed for 51 women who took no raspberry product and for 57 who did. No attempt was made to control for such variables as timing and amount of raspberry leaf products consumed, parity of the women, or care providers. The products consumed consisted of tea, tablets, or combinations of tea, tablets, and tincture. Groups differed as to maternal age (p=0.86) (Parsons et al, 1999).
Some herbal baby drinks, particularly those with a fruit component, may have acidogenic and/or erosive potential. In a two-part study of commonly available herbal baby drinks, all drinks tested had cariogenic potential. In vitro analysis of the inherent acidity of fruit-containing, herbal baby drinks, as well as in vivo assessment of their ability to depress plaque acidity in adult volunteers, revealed that 3 of 6 test drinks had a low pH although most had a low titratable acidity. Next to that of a 10% solution of sucrose used as a positive control, the area under the curve below the resting pH was highest for apple and raspberry herbal drinks. Damage to teeth from fruit drinks is thought to be caused from two properties, erosion of enamel surface from low pH and high titratable acidity and demineralization of enamel from organic acids in the dental plaque generated by plaque micro- organisms during metabolism of fermentable carbohydrates (Duggal et al, 1996).
Indications & Usage
Raspberry is unapproved by the German Commission E because of lack of reliable studies to confirm effectiveness and safety. Raspberry is listed by European authorities as an N1 natural food flavoring and has no restrictions on use.
Raspberry leaf is used for disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract, the cardiovascular system, and the mouth and throat. In folk medicine, Raspberry preparations were used to facilitate childbirth.
Raspberry leaf should not be used topically during pregnancy as there is insufficient information about its safety. Animal study evidence indicates that raspberry can initiate and reduce uterine contractions (Jellin et al, 2000; Newall et al, 1996). Oral use of raspberry as a food flavoring during pregnancy is possibly safe (Jellin et al, 2000).
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages. Use of raspberry leaf may cause a blood pressure change. In separate human studies a rise in blood pressure as well as a slight fall in systolic blood pressure has been reported (Parsons et al, 1999). Raspberry leaf tea has not been evaluated for carcinogenicity, although some herbal teas, if used chronically, contain tannins that can be carcinogenic, causing esophageal or stomach tumors (Briggs & Briggs, 1997).
Raspberry should not be used during pregnancy without medical supervision.
Scientific evidence for the safe use of raspberry during lactation is not available.
No drug interactions were found.
Mode of Administration
As a component of purgative and “blood purifying” teas, and in fruit tea mixtures.
To prepare an infusion, scald 1.5 gm finely cut drug, steep for 5 minutes and then strain. (1 teaspoonful = 0.8 gm drug).
- Capsules: 345 mg
- Liquid Extract