Note: This is the beginning of an herbal remedy series. I’m also covering Lady’s Mantle and Milk Thistle.
Red raspberry leaf tea is an oft-recommended pregnancy herb. Not only is it safe to consume daily after you reach the second trimester, but you can continue drinking it to promote uterine well-being when you’re not pregnant.
What does it do that it receives such high praises? Quite a few things, actually.
One of its main actions is that of a uterine toner. Red raspberry leaf contains an alkaloid called fragrine, that tones the muscles in the pelvic region, including the uterus.
That’s great! But why should I tone my uterus?
Getting strong isn’t only for biceps
Think about a muscle that doesn’t get used very much – a bicep, maybe. It has little tone and cannot lift much. This muscle becomes easily exhausted when it’s put through more strain than it’s used to. It hurts and you feel sore for a while afterward.
Now, imagine that you begin exercising this bicep regularly by lifting weights, increasing your strength over time. You find that you can steadily increase the amount of weight you can lift because the muscle is more adept at doing its job. In short, it’s become easier for it to do what it was designed to do.
The uterus is a hollow organ with lots of muscles that stretch and contract. Keeping it well toned makes it easier for it to do its job – with less pain, too.
Preventing hemorrhage and miscarriage – Now imagine that puny arm holding up a weight it is not used to holding. The arm quickly drops because it isn’t strong enough. A uterus that isn’t toned is too relaxed to perform its main functions – carrying a baby to term and contracting after birth to prevent hemorrhage.
Faster and easier birth – Now picture those arms pumping iron. They’re used to working out regularly and do many reps with ease. During pregnancy and labor, the uterus is constantly contracting. For a uterus that hasn’t been properly toned through physical exercise and with herbs like red raspberry leaf, it is difficult to do all of those repetitions, making it less effective and prone to exhaustion.
Labor and afterbirth pain reduction – After baby is delivered the uterus needs to return to its original size, which is about the size of a pear. This happens with contractions – the same kind of contracting that it did during labor. Yes, this hurts too, just like labor. However, for a well-toned uterus, the contractions are more efficient and don’t take as long to return it to it’s normal size.
Drinking a few cups of red raspberry leaf tea from the second trimester until after your baby is born will help tone your uterus and prepare it for delivery, as well as making menstrual cramps less painful.
Herbal Tip – Drink red raspberry leaf tea instead of a couple of your normal glasses of water to stay hydrated. It’s caffeine-free!
Now that you’ve learned more than you wanted to know about the uterus ;), you probably want to know what else this herb is good for.
High mineral content – Another reason that red raspberry leaf is recommended during pregnancy is because of its rich vitamin and mineral content. It has concentrated amounts of vitamin C and also contains vitamin E. Raspberry leaf also contains easily assimilated iron and calcium.
All of these minerals make it a common additive to lactation teas as they help to increase breastmilk production. However, some women find that when they use raspberry leaf tea to boost their milk supply, it doesn’t help because of it’s astringent properties.
Astringency – An astringent tightens the top layers of skin and mucous membranes to decrease secretions (anyone else use Sea Breeze for acne as a teenager?). Red raspberry leaf takes it a step further and also relieves irritations and firms tissues.
Those properties make red raspberry leaf tea an ideal herbal remedy for diarrhea and irritated mouths and throats. In the event of diarrhea, not only does it help soothe an irritated digestive tract, but it also helps replenish depleted mineral stores and keeps you hydrated.
So whether you’re pregnant, want to be or just need some relief from menstrual cramps, red raspberry leaf tea is safe to drink on a daily basis. Just remember to keep some on hand for the rest of the family, too.
I’ve put together an herbal resource with tips on getting started with herbal remedies and finding quality herbs. If you want to stay up-to-date on herbal products coming soon with special discounts, please join the mailing list on the right.
*Like anything that goes into your body that is considered medicine, please consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider if you have any questions. Especially if you’re pregnant or nursing. I am not an herbalist or doctor.
Herbal Medicine by Dian Dincin Buchman, Ph.D.