One year I decided to put in a berry patch in the disused run of an old chicken coop. My friend, Cindy, came and helped us to clear the weeds and to lay out concrete blocks for a raised bed look. We even used old crutches for bracing and training the vines. Along with this amazing plan, I had envisioned composting stalls on the western side of the enclosure. We planted raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Then I forgot about them.
Fast forward, two or three years ( I can’t remember how long because I forgot about them!) – maybe even four, my husband comes into the house from mowing and reminds me about the berry patch. He tells me that the vines are full of berries and I should go and pick them. So I did with a machete. Actually, with my husband leading the way with a pair of shears to trim back the jungle, we ventured forth into the area which had been closed off. He was not wrong. There were berries everywhere. As I picked through I did notice a distinct difference between the wild black raspberries, rubus occidentalis, which grow all over the property and the red ones, Rubus idaeus, left to grow amuck in purposed patch. I also noted that there may have been some intermingling of the two species in this forgotten small ecosystem. Needless to say, the berries were very tasty. However, I am interested in more than just the berries. I am also interested in harvesting the leaves.
Probably since the first raspberry leaf accidentally dropped into a sun warmed hollowed gourd of water, raspberry leaves have been used to make a refreshing medicinal tea. Women, in particular, have benefitted from drinking the tea, or in more recent times, taking capsules of powdered raspberry leaf. Raspberry leaves have a particular affinity for the uterus and pelvic area, providing toning and relaxation of the muscles. A warm infusion of raspberry leaves will bring balance to our lovely lady parts as well as our hair, teeth and bones. Raspberry leaf is a wonderful energizing overall tonic, rich in nutrients. Tonics in general, are great for long term use, particularly during stressful periods of life and during recovery from illness.
Not only do I suggest eating raspberries during pregnancy or at any time in a woman’s life, I also recommend drinking the tea made from the leaves. Raspberry leaves contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron. It will provide pain relief during a woman’s cycle by strengthening the uterus and pelvic muscles and by offering nutrients where there’s a deficiency. Considered a nervine and an astringent, raspberry leaf will aid in clearing out a congested pelvis as well as relieving postpartum pain and depression. It may help with fibroids.
This plentiful herb is one of the few considered safe during pregnancy. Drinking raspberry leaf tea everyday will strengthen the uterus and pelvis, getting it ready for safe Baby Day delivery. Because of its nervine action, raspberry tea will also quell nausea during those first few months. It’s tonic and relaxing actions aid in decreasing pain during delivery while increasing efficiency of contractions, making for faster delivery. After delivery, a warm cup of raspberry leaf tea will hasten recovery and may encourage milk flow. Be careful of drinking raspberry tea in large amounts during those early breastfeeding months as it may slow milk production. But later an extra cup may help with weaning.
Raspberry leaf acts as an astringent in other areas of the body as well. The kidneys and urinary tract benefit as well as the mucus linings throughout the rest of the body. It may help with diarrhea and can stop hemorrhaging.
As an herbalist, I do tend to add raspberry leaves to many female specific formulas. Raspberry leaves pair well with mullein, oat straw, lemon balm, nettle and cranesbill. Here’s a comforting tea recipe for that not so comfortable time of the month:
1 part peppermint leaves, 1 part raspberry leaf, .5 part skullcap leaves, pinch of raw stevia. Place loose tea in an infuser. Pour hot water over leaves. Cover and steep for 8-10 minutes. Enjoy.