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Red Raspberry Plant

Red Raspberry Plant

Botanical Description & Habitat

Rubus strigosus


Found in woods, fields, and thickets in North America.

It has a erect, glaucous stem growing from three to six feet in height. It bears alternate, pinnate leaves with two pairs of ovate leaflets. The leaves have a pale green upper surface and a gray-white underside. White, cup-shaped flowers usually grow in terminal clusters but one or two solitary flowers may also appear in the upper leaf axils. The fruit is a small red berry developing in clusters of 20 to 30.

Medicinal parts
Leaves, fresh or dried, gathered just after full development
fruit, ripe

Historical Properties & Uses

Hot raspberry leaf tea is said to temper the effects of hormonal variations in women, as might occur during menstruation, pregnancy, and delivery. Raspberry leaf prevents the typical hypergrowth effects of chronic gonadotrophin on ovaries and uterus, and relaxes uterine muscles. In several species of animals, concentrated raspberry tea relaxes the smooth muscle of the uterus if it is "in tone," and cause contractions in the muscle if it is relaxed. This implies existence of a normalizing effect in the herb. The relaxing response probably aids partuition, a use for which raspberry leaf has long been famous.

The antidiarrheal properties of cold raspberry leaf tea are probably due to the astringent principles contained therein. The herb's ability to remedy extreme laxity of bowels may be due to a combination of its astringent property and its effects on smooth muscle. Raspberry's astringent principles are also responsible for the herb's external effectiveness in treating sores and itches, for the use of a strong tea as a refreshing gargle and mouthwash, and for its benefit in the treatment of dysentery, internal bleeding, ulcers, and chronic skin disease.

Method of Action

Raspberry leaf contains astringent tannins
The tannins of raspberry leaf are fashion around gallic and ellagic acids in the free and combined forms. These acids have strong astringent properties accounting for the tea's use to combat diarrhea (although more soothing herbs are available), and as a refreshing mouthwash and gargle to treat sores in the mouth.

Raspberry leaf has normalizing effects on the uterus
Experiments in which gonadotrophin is administered chronically to young female rats, thereby causing increased weight of ovaries and uterus, have shown simple water extracts of raspberry leaf significantly (at the .01 level) inhibit, but not eliminate, that effect. The extracts also diminished contractions of rat uterus when administered at 83 mg/kg., and the same concentrations inhibited the effect of TSH on the thyroid gland.

Concentrates of an infusion of the dried raspberry leaf were tested on in situ uterus of cat and rabbit and on isolated uterus of the dog, cat, rabbit, and guinea pig. In situ and isolated intestine was also used. The leaf was shown to contain a principle readily extracted with water which relaxes the smooth muscle of the uterus and intestine when it is in tone. However, the same principle causes contraction of the uterus of the rabbit in situ and of the isolated uteri of the cat, rabbit, and guinea pig when these organs are not in tone. The investigators hypothesize the relaxation response probably accounts for traditional therapeutic use in menstrual disturbances and during partuition.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Possible Interactions
Any of the following drugs may be imperfectly absorbed if red raspberry is being used daily: tetracycline derivatives, oral anticholinergics, phenothiazines, digoxin, isoniazid, phenytoin, and warfarin.

Urinary excretion of alkaline drugs, such as amphetamines or quinidine, may be inhibited by the antacid nature of this herb. The antacid nature of red raspberry may also decrease or delay the absorption of nalidixic acid and the sulfonamides.

Topical application of this astringent herb, in conjunction with the acne product Tretinoin (retinoic acid, vitamin A acid), may adversely affect the skin.

Oxytocic property of red raspberry, in conjunction with vasoconstrictors such as ephedrine, methoxamine, phenylephrine, or sympathomimetics, may cause severe hypertension. Citrates, in conjunction with the herb, may produce erratic and unpredictable results due to the oxytocic action. Red raspberry and sparteine may have synergistic oxytocic activity.

The antacid properties of red raspberry may enhance the renal tubular resorption of the antiarrhythmic drug, quinidine, leading to increased quinidine serum levels.

The antidiabetic ability of the red raspberry plant may be decreased by the concomitant use of acetazolamide, oral contraceptives, corticosteroids, dextrothyroxine, epinephrine, ethanol, glucagon, and marijuana. The antidiabetic effects of red raspberry may also be decreased when used in conjunction with phenothiazines, rifampin, thiazide diuretics, and thyroid hormones.

Conversely, the antidiabetic action of the herb may be enhanced when used with allopurinol, anabolic steroids, chloramphenicol, clofibrate, fenfluramine, guanethidine, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI's), phenylbutazone, probenecid, and phenyramidol. The antidiabetic action of red raspberry may also be enhanced when used in conjunction with salicylates, sulfinpyrazone, sulfonamides, and tetracyclines.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

The toxicity level of red raspberry plant has not been determined at this time.

The German Commission E status of raspberry leaf is "null" or neutral i.e. while it is not approved, there is no documented risk. There may also be some concern over the claims made by manufacturers i.e. they are unproven.


Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Preparation & Administration

Three times a day

Dried leaf
4-8 grams

made from 1-2 tsp of dried leaf

Fluid extract
1:1 in 25% alcohol, 4-8 ml

1:5 in 45% alcohol, 3-6 ml

Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.


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