Herbalists have long believed that raspberry leaf tea taken regularly during pregnancy can prevent complications and make delivery easier. Raspberry has also been used to reduce excessive menstruation and relieve symptoms of diarrhea. However, there is no evidence that it is safe or effective for these uses.
Red raspberry tea is still commonly recommended for pregnant women. However, while there is weak preliminary evidence from animal studies that raspberry might have an effect on the uterus,1 the only real clinical study trial reported to date found no benefit.2 This double-blind placebo-controlled study evaluated the effects of red raspberry in 192 pregnant women. Treatment (placebo or 2.4 g of raspberry leaf daily) began at the 32nd week of pregnancy and was continued until the onset of labor. The results failed to show any statistically meaningful differences between the group. Red raspberry did not significantly shorten labor, reduce pain, or prevent complications. Thus, at present, it appears that red raspberry does not work in the manner ascribed to it by tradition.
To make raspberry leaf tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 or 2 teaspoons of dried leaf, steep for 10 minutes, and then sweeten to taste. Unlike many medicinal herbs, raspberry leaf actually has a pleasant taste! During pregnancy, drink 2 to 3 cups daily.
Raspberry is believed to be a safe herb. The double-blind placebo-controlled trial noted above found no evidence of harm in the 96 pregnant women given red raspberry.3 However, this does not exclude the possibility of rare side effects or toxicity with excessive dosages. Safety in young children or those with severe liver or kidney disease has also not been established.
1. Bamford DS, Percival RC, Tothill AU. Raspberry leaf tea: a new aspect to an old problem. Br J Pharmacol. 1970;40:161P–162P.
2. Simpson M, Parsons M, Greenwood J, et al. Raspberry leaf in pregnancy: its safety and efficacy in labor. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2001;46:51–59.
3. Simpson M, Parsons M, Greenwood J, et al. Raspberry leaf in pregnancy: its safety and efficacy in labor. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2001;46:51–59.
Last reviewed December 2015 by EBSCO CAM Review Board Last Updated: 12/15/2015