The Benefits of Raspberry Leaf Tea
Raspberry leaf, aka Rubus idaeus or Fu Pen Zi in Chinese medicine, happens to be one of the most common herbs I use myself and prescribe to my patients. It is a gentle yet powerful uterine tonic, it is safe in pregnancy, and when brewed as tea or an herbal infusion it's a good source of dissolved minerals.
And, you don't have to be pregnant or even a woman to benefit from this amazing herb. It also has benefits for digestion, skin, lungs, and gums. In fact, for many of it's benefits you don't even have to drink it, you can use it as a soak or add it to your bath. I'll explain how.
Supports Menstrual & Uterine Health
Raspberry leaf tea is a classic uterine tonic, used to treat menstrual cramps and irregular cycles. It is a mild but effective remedy, and therefore should be used frequently to gain its benefits. While you may only think to drink it during your period, when you're feeling crampy, try use it all cycle long and you'll be much more likely to notice a difference.
Using a sitz bath or tea bath can also help to soothe menstrual pain. I'll explain below how to use them.
Improves Symptoms of Pregnancy
Unlike many other herbs, raspberry leaf tea is not just safe for longterm use, it's safe during all phases of pregnancy, and it's also beneficial for each phase.
It helps to stabilize pregnancy in the first trimester and prevent bleeding or hemorrhage. It reduces nausea and improves digestion. It tones the uterus while it grows and preps it for labor. You can use it at any stage of pregnancy, but I find it particularly important in the first and third trimester. I often include it as part of my Pre-birth Protocol.
The perks of raspberry leaf tea don't end with birth, especially because it's capable of actually repairing uterine tissue, I always recommend my patients continue to drink the tea for at least a few months postpartum.
This goes for vaginal and surgical births, both can benefit from the effects of raspberry leaf tea. For surgical births, drinking the tea is generally the best option for helping uterine tissue to heal internally. For vaginal births, if perineal swelling or tearing is involved, then I generally recommend using the tea topically as well. This can be done with a sitz bath of raspberry leaf tea, as it also reduces swelling and promotes tissue repair topically.
And surprise! Raspberry leaf also helps to improve breast milk supply if you need help in that department.
Although it's not used primarily as a digestive tonic, raspberry leaf tea does have this added advantage. It helps to stimulate and harmonize digestion, particularly helpful for nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation.
You don't have to be pregnant or trying to regulate your period or even a woman to gain this benefit from raspberry leaf tea. In fact, making an infusion of this herb is a healthy beverage for just about anyone.
Soothes Irritated Lungs & Throat
Another use for raspberry leaf is for soothing irritated lungs and throat, especially during upper respiratory infections.
If you have a common cold that includes cough, phlegm, sinus congestion, or sore throat, then make sure to add a few cups of raspberry leaf tea into your routine to keep your lungs healthy. You can also use the tea or infusion as a gargle for sore throat or hoarseness of voice.
Treats Inflamed Gums & Mouth
Similar to how raspberry leaf is used as a gargle for sore throat, it is also particularly good for inflammation of the gums and mouth. Once again, the tea or infusion can be used as a mouth wash or rinse for inflamed gums and mouth sores.
Of course, you can also simply drink the tea for it's benefit to the mouth and gums.
Calms Irritated Skin
You thought I was done, didn't you? Nope! Raspberry leaf is also helpful for soothing inflamed skin, which could mean dry or flaky skin, sunburn, eczema, itchiness, rashes, or most common types of skin inflammation or irritation.
It can be used as a wash, soak, poultice, or bath for inflamed skin. For a wash or soak, make the tea or infusion and once cool enough use to wash or soak the effected area, good for small areas such as your hand or your face. Discard the tea after washing or soaking. A poultice also works well for small affected areas and can be simply made by wrapping the already brewed raspberry leaves up in some cheesecloth or a paper towel, use this mass of herbs topically where ever it's needed. With the poultice method, you can still drink the tea and just use the herbs topically.
For larger affected areas, use a raspberry leaf tea bath, see below for those instructions.
How to Brew the Tea & Make an Infusion
Obviously the most common way to use raspberry leaf is to brew it as tea, and you can even find tea bags of the stuff at your local grocery and it makes it really simple and convenient to drink.
I typically recommend an herbal infusion, however, which uses loose leaf tea and a long brew time to get a really well infused tea that is potent and rich in dissolved minerals.
You can use a tea infuser, a tea pot with a strainer, or even just small fine sieve and and a jar works too. I usually brew 1 tablespoon of raspberry leaf per 1-2 cups of steeping water. Let it infuse at least 20 minutes, up to 3 hours. Then enjoy the tea room temp, iced, or you can heat it back up.
How to Use Herbal Sitz Baths & Tea Baths
A sitz bath is when you soak the perineal/anal area in a small reservoir of water, which usually goes over the toilet and can be purchased at most drug stores. You can use a sitz bath with just warm water to soothe the area, or some people add epsom salt, but you can also use herbal infusions to take advantage or herbs with soothing and healing properties, such as raspberry leaf.
Herbal sitz baths (like my Soothing Herbal Sitz Bath, which includes raspberry leaf, calendula, witch hazel, and pink Himalayan salt) are usually used to heal perineal swelling or tearing (which are common postpartum) or hemorrhoids. But lesser known uses for herbal sitz baths include treating menstrual pain and irregular cycles by delivering uterine tonic herbs, such as raspberry leaf, directly to the vaginal area. This can be especially helpful on the heaviest/most painful days of the period.
To brew raspberry leaf tea for use in a sitz bath, bring 1 quart of water to a boil and add 1/3 cup of the loose herb. Cover and let steep at least 20 minutes, or as long as 3 hours. Strain and save the herbal infusion in a large jar, this is enough for several sitz baths. As needed, mix equal parts infusion and warm/hot water so the mixture is a comfortable temperature for the sitz bath.
If you don't have a sitz bath or if you'd like to soak in raspberry leaf tea to benefit irritated skin, you can use a tea bath, where the infusion is added to a regular bath in your tub. The only disadvantage here is you have to use more herb, in fact I recommend preparing the infusion as described above for the sitz bath, but use the whole batch of the infusion poured into one warm bath. Luckily, raspberry leaf isn't a costly herb.
Whether you're using a sitz or tea bath, soak for at least 15-20 minutes. You can do this several times per day or week as needed.