Red raspberry leaf tea is made from the leaves of the raspberry plant, and many health claims have been made about it in recent years. In this guide, we’ll see how many of those claims are true and discuss the truth about this leaf, its compounds, its nutrition, and its side effects.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and Pregnancy
Red raspberry leaf, which has the generic name rubus idaeus, has a long history of use as a folk medicine, and much of that use has revolved around claims that it can induce labour. And this myth has endured. If you run a search for this plant on a forum for expecting mothers, you’ll see a plethora of posts claiming that it can hasten delivery, with many anecdotal claims stating that it really does work.
Studies have actually been conducted on the prevalence of this herb, with one finding that more than half of pregnant women used some kind of herbal remedy and that the majority had tried red raspberry leaf tea.
There are a few claims made about this tea. The main one is that it can hasten delivery when consumed during the second and third trimester, essentially reducing the stages of labour, but some have also claimed it can reduce everything from excessive bleeding after the birth to pain during it.
Others believe it can reduce morning sickness prior to birth and that it can help with additional issues afterward. As mentioned above, many anecdotal reports exist but the science is a little thin on the ground.
Studies on red raspberry tea’s effect on labour duration have been mixed. One large study conducted from 1999 to 2000 on more than 120 women found it had no impact on the length of the first stage of labour, as is often claimed, but that it did shorten the second stage of labour by just under 10 minutes. (1)
Others have found little to no change, with one review noting that the current literature is far from conclusive and that we don’t even know for sure that it won’t cause harm to the mother or the baby. (2) Based on the anecdotal evidence and the short-term studies, it’s fair to say that it’s not a massive and immediately obvious risk, but it may increase the risk of certain adverse reactions.
Should You Drink it?
It all depends on how you view the evidence. On the one hand, no extensive and conclusive study can prove the effects of red raspberry tea. On the other hand, a lot of smaller studies have yielded very promising results, suggesting that it can decrease the risk of many complications while also shortening the length of labour.
It’s not something we’re happy to recommend one way or the other, but it is something that you might want to discuss with your doctor. Don’t rush to take the advice of other mothers just because they had a pleasant experience—there simply isn’t a way to look at their experiences objectively (who’s to say that they wouldn’t have had the same experience if they hadn’t consumed the tea?) and your reaction may be different to theirs. However, if your doctor recommends it and you understand the risks involved (see below) then there’s no reason you shouldn’t drink it.
Research suggests that consumption of 1 to 3 cups of red raspberry leaf tea a day is optimal, and some recommend that you consume no more than 1 cup a day (or none at all) early on in your pregnancy due to the increased risk of uterine contractions. This is generally a very safe and widely tolerated tea, just like many other herbal teas we have discussed.
But as is the case with those other herbal teas, it’s best to be cautious during pregnancy. The risk of anything adverse happening is very low, but the implications are huge, so even the smallest risk needs to be carefully manoeuvred.
It is also possible to be allergic to this tea, and anyone with allergies to related plants should steer clear.
Other Benefits of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Red raspberry leaf tea acts as a natural diuretic, which means it increases the rate of urination. It is not quite as effective as dandelion leaf tea at doing this, but it can still help shift some water weight, which may be especially useful during the latter stages of pregnancy.
Unlike some other herbal teas we have covered, such as the hugely beneficial rose hip tea, raspberry leaf doesn’t contain a wealth of micronutrients or macronutrients, so it won’t impact much on your RDAs. It does, however, contain a number of antioxidant compounds.
These compounds can be found in many teas, herbs, and spices and are thought to contribute to overall health and wellbeing, reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. Regular consumption of antioxidants in their natural form may also help reduce the risk of developing certain neurodegenerative diseases, as is the case with teas like Greek mountain tea.
Generally speaking, it’s a tea that can help in a number of ways, but those benefits (if they are true) seem to help pregnant women the most.
Raspberry Leaf versus Blackberry Leaf
These plants both produce super sweet and slightly tart berries, and they both have leaves that are consumed for medicinal purposes. They are also both packed full of antioxidants, but that’s where the similarities end. They don’t taste the same and the health benefits also seem to be different, with blackberry leaf tea seemingly helping alleviate general digestive issues, while red raspberry leaf tea’s benefits are centred around pregnancy and labour.
The availability of these two teas also differs. Red raspberry leaf tea is very popular right now and is sold in tea shops, health food shops, and many online retailers, specifically those that cater to expecting mothers. Blackberry leaf tea is not quite as easy to find, with the biggest tea brands giving it a wide berth, leaving only a few smaller companies and bulk sellers to corner the market.