Red raspberry is a plant native to Europe and parts of Asia and known for its sweet, nutritious berries.
Yet, its leaves are loaded with nutrients as well and often used to make an herbal tea that has medicinal uses.
For centuries, red raspberry leaves have been used to treat various health ailments and induce labor during pregnancy.
This article reviews the health benefits, safety and side effects of red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy and in general.
Red raspberry leaves are high in many nutrients and may offer health benefits for pregnant and non-pregnant women alike.
Good Source of Nutrients and Antioxidants
Red raspberry leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals.
They provide B vitamins, vitamin C and a number of minerals, including potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and iron. However, their most notable contribution might be their antioxidant properties (1, ).
Red raspberry leaves contain polyphenols like tannins and flavonoids, which act as antioxidants in your body and can help protect cells from damage.
In addition, the leaves contain small amounts of ellagic acids, which have been shown to neutralize carcinogens and even contribute to the self-destruction of cancer cells (, ).
While more research is needed on the cancer-fighting potential of red raspberry leaves, current results are promising.
In any case, the leaves’ nutrient profile make red raspberry leaf tea a healthy choice.
May Be Especially Beneficial for Women
Red raspberry leaf tea is especially popular due to its possible benefits for pregnant women. However, it seems to help women in general.
In fact, it’s often referred to as the woman’s herb.
Some research supports the anecdotal evidence of women saying that the leaves help relieve premenstrual symptoms (PMS), such as cramping, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea (, ).
Red raspberry leaves contain fragarine, a plant compound that helps tone and tighten muscles in the pelvic area, which may reduce the menstrual cramping caused by the spasms of these muscles ().
While there is currently no specific recommendation on the quantity to drink, sipping on some red raspberry leaf tea may relieve some of the discomforts of your menstrual cycle.
What’s more, one ounce (28 grams) of red raspberry leaves pack 3.3 mg of iron, which is 18% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for women aged 19–50. Getting enough iron can combat the anemia often experienced by women with heavy menstrual cycles (, 5).
Summary Rich in nutrients and antioxidants, red raspberry leaf tea may offer health and nutrition benefits and help relieve premenstrual symptoms.
Herbal teas have been used by midwives throughout history to help with some of the negative symptoms associated with pregnancy and labor.
One study evaluated the use of herbal remedies in 600 pregnant women. It showed that 52% of women regularly used some kind of herbal remedy and 63% of women had tried red raspberry leaf tea ().
While red raspberry leaf tea is typically recommended for the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, some women use the herbal remedy to help with nausea and vomiting in the first trimester as well (5).
Red raspberry leaf tea has also been used to strengthen the uterus, improve labor outcome and prevent excessive bleeding after childbirth.
May Help Shorten Labor
Many women claim that red raspberry leaf tea helps shorten labor.
The fragarine compound found in red raspberry leaves is known to help tone and tighten muscles in the pelvic area, including the walls of your uterus, which can help make delivery easier ().
A study of 108 women showed that those who drank red raspberry leaf tea in the last stage of pregnancy had a shorter first stage of labor ().
The study was repeated a year later among 192 women. It showed that red raspberry leaf tea did not shorten the first stage of labor but did shorten the second stage by an average of 9.59 minutes ().
Reduce Interventions and Complications of Childbirth
There is some evidence to show that drinking red raspberry leaf tea may allow for a labor with fewer complications.
One study found that women who drank red raspberry leaf tea later in pregnancy had reduced use of forceps and other interventions, as well as a reduction in the likelihood of pre- and post-term labor ().
Similarly, another study showed an 11% decreased use of forceps during birth for women who consumed red raspberry leaf tea in the last eight weeks of pregnancy ().
The American Pregnancy Association also states that drinking the tea may reduce the need for interventions during childbirth (9).
It’s thought that an easier labor with fewer interventions could decrease the amount of bleeding in the postpartum state ().
Summary Red raspberry leaf tea may help strengthen your uterine walls, decrease labor time and reduce the use of birthing interventions.
Red raspberry leaf tea appears to be safe for most people.
When side effects appear, they tend to be mild. However, they’re still important to consider.
This herbal tea may have laxative properties and could cause loosening of stool in certain people. It may also have a mild diuretic effect and can increase urination ().
It’s important to consult with your doctor before consuming it.
Research suggests that the most optimal time to start drinking red raspberry leaf tea is at 32 weeks gestation. One study showed that taking 2.4 mg per day of red raspberry leaf in tablet form appears to be safe. As a tea, 1–3 cups per day are appropriate ().
It’s recommended to limit your intake to 1 cup per day if you choose to consume it earlier in pregnancy.
If you experience Braxton Hicks contractions during pregnancy or have spotting in the second or third trimesters, you should discontinue use.
Summary Red raspberry leaf tea appears to be safe for most people if taken in the appropriate dose. As with any herbal remedy, you should first consult with your doctor.
Red raspberry leaf tea may strengthen the uterine walls and decrease labor time in pregnant woman and relieve premenstrual symptoms in women in general.
For most people, it appears to be safe to drink 1–3 cups per day, though intake should be limited to 1 cup during early pregnancy.
Its nutrients and antioxidants might provide a boost to health for both men and women.
While more research needs to be done to fully understand all of red raspberry leaf tea’s positive attributes, it appears to be safe for most.
If you are willing to try an herbal remedy, red raspberry leaf tea might be for you.