Red raspberry leaf, or Rubus idaeus folium, refers to an herbal substance containing dried, chopped leaves that a person can prepare into tea. Some evidence suggests the leaves contain bioactive compounds that benefit health. However, further research is still necessary.

Red raspberry leaf tea is a herbal remedy that people have used for centuries to assist with pregnancy, labor, and birth. While many individuals may consider using this beverage to help with the labor process, more research is necessary to understand its effectiveness and whether it provides aid during labor and birth.

As some evidence also notes that the remedy contains vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that may possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, the beverage may also have potential uses beyond pregnancy.

This article explores the potential health benefits of red raspberry leaf tea, possible risks, and how to prepare the tea.

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Red raspberry leaf contains many nutrients and minerals, including:

Red raspberry leaf also contains molecules known as tannins, natural antioxidants that can protect against free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause cell damage.

Flavonoids are also present in red raspberry leaf. Flavonoids are natural molecules present in many plants that may have antioxidative, anticarcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties. They may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

Red raspberry leaf also contains ellagic acid, which is present in some fruits and vegetables and may possess antioxidant and anticancer properties. It may also help protect the liver.

Some possible benefits of red raspberry leaf tea may include the below.

Labor and pregnancy

While people have used red raspberry leaf to help with pregnancy for years, researchers are still investigating how this herbal remedy may help. Some evidence suggests that in both human and animal studies, the substance may increase blood flow to the uterus and positively affect the smooth muscle. This may help strengthen and tone the uterus, which could assist with contractions and preventing hemorrhage.

Many companies may sell products they call pregnancy tea, which will often contain red raspberry leaf. While more research is necessary, supporters of the herbal remedy suggest people can consume it safely during pregnancy and help a person prepare for birth. It also states that pregnant people can drink 1–3 cups per day safely.

Antioxidant activity

Red raspberry leaf contains vitamin E, tannins, and flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants. Antioxidants can help protect against the free radicals that may damage cells and contribute toward the development of diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, red raspberry leave may have some benefits in reducing the risk of these conditions.

An older test-tube study investigating the effect of red raspberry leaves in human laryngeal cancer and colon cancer suggests the leaves may have antioxidant properties and could provide beneficial health effects.

Oral lichen planus

Oral lichen planus is an inflammatory condition that results in inflammation of the mucosal surfaces of the mouth. It results in lesions and ulcers and can be painful.

A small 2015 study found that red raspberry leaf extract helped reduce pain symptoms and ulcers by the end of the trial. Additionally, oral symptoms improved, and the researchers did not observe any adverse effects. This suggests that red raspberry leaf may be beneficial in treating symptoms of oral lichen planus.

Other benefits

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) notes that red raspberry leaf tea may help treat:

  • minor spasms associated with menstrual periods
  • mild mouth inflammation
  • mild throat inflammation
  • mild diarrhea

There is currently a lack of robust research regarding the health benefits of red raspberry leaf. A 2021 integrative systematic review notes that the current evidence to support consuming red raspberry leaf in pregnancy is weak. The review also notes that animal studies indicate raspberry leaf toxicity after animals received injections with large amounts of raspberry leaf extract. However, human studies have not yielded the same effects.

Additionally, red raspberry leaf tea may not be suitable for all pregnant people. In a 2016 case study, a pregnant person with gestational diabetes became hypoglycemic after consuming the tea. Although this was a single case, it highlights the need for more robust research. Other evidence also suggests the tea may not be suitable for:

  • people whose previous labor was 3 or fewer hours
  • people who have had or are planning to have a cesarean delivery
  • those who previously experienced premature labor
  • those with any vaginal bleeding in the second half of the pregnancy
  • people with a family or personal history of breast or ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or fibroids
  • people expecting a baby in the breech position
  • those with any complications or health problems during pregnancy, such as high blood pressure
  • those expecting twins

At present, evidence suggests 1–3 cups a day of red raspberry leaf tea is a generally safe dose. However, because some evidence indicates the tea may cause contractions, it is not advisable for people to consume the remedy before the third trimester. Additionally, individuals should reduce or stop drinking this tea if they experience strong Braxton-Hicks contractions. The EMA also notes that only adults should consume the tea.

To make a cup of red raspberry leaf tea, a person should first take about 1 teaspoon of crushed or dried raspberry leaves and place it into a cup. They then pour boiling water into the cup and let it steep for at least 5 minutes. They can then drink the tea.

Alternatively, people can follow any instructions on the tea’s packaging or buy red raspberry leaf tea bags, which they can steep in boiling water for 5 minutes before drinking.

Red raspberry leaf tea is an herbal remedy that contains many nutrients, minerals, and other potentially beneficial compounds. Some evidence suggests this remedy may help during pregnancy and labor, although this requires more thorough research. Before consuming red raspberry leaf tea, a person should discuss this with their doctor.

Other research suggests it may also help with menstrual spasms, inflammation, and diarrhea. An individual can prepare red raspberry leaf tea at home with loose leaves or tea bags and boiling water.