Does Raspberry Leaf induce labor?

…and what it really does instead!

Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus spp.) has gained quite a reputation amongst the crunchy community. Often, I see people posting in Facebook groups about this herb. “I heard raspberry leaf induces labor. Did you try it? Did it work for you?” Then, many comments will follow about how someone drank a weak cup of Red Raspberry tea and they went into labor in a few hours. I see this all the time and I find it is one of the most common herbal misconceptions. In this post, I want to correct the record about this herb. Also, I’d like to offer some additional resources as well as ideas for crafting an effective Red Raspberry infusion.

What is Red Raspberry Leaf?

Red raspberry leaf is exactly what it sounds like. It is the leaves from the raspberry plant. It’s not the sweet fruit. This leaf has a pleasant and earthy taste. This herb has been used historically as a nutritive tonic and is especially beneficial for women throughout the childbearing year. Also, it is especially supportive in pregnancy.

You can harvest your own leaves from the raspberry (Rubus spp.) plant before the plant begins to flower. Alternatively, you can purchase dried raspberry leaf.

How does Red Raspberry Leaf work?

Red raspberry leaf is a nutritive and tonic. Firstly, it is packed full of nutrients and minerals that are essential to support a healthy pregnancy. This is a nourishing herb that is packed full of calcium, magnesium, iron, and more. These are essential nutrients that are highly beneficial and supportive in pregnancy. It also includes vitamin A, vitamins B1-3, vitamin C, E, selenium, and niacin. According to The Herbal Academy, one ounce of raspberry leaf contains the following:

  • 408mg calcium
  • 446mg potassium
  • 106mg magnesium
  • 3.3mg iron
  • 4mg manganese

Secondly, an alkaloid called fragarine helps to tone the uterus. It does this by smoothing, toning, and restoring elasticity to the uterus by balancing the muscle tissues. It weakens what is tight, and tightens what is weak.

The combination of the nutrient boost and toning alkaloids is what makes raspberry leaf so supportive in pregnancy. It provides a huge nutrient boost for the body (and muscles) and works to tone the tissues. The uterus is a muscle, feed it!

Interestingly, it has somehow gotten a reputation as an herb to induce labor. This is unproven and there is no evidence to suggest that it will induce labor or start/strengthen contractions. It works slowly over time to nourish the body and tone the uterus to support normal function. It is not a quick fix tea. However, it can be beneficial even in small amounts at the end of pregnancy as a nutrient boost.

How to use this herb…

There are many different ways to use red raspberry leaf. Your doula can point you to resources for more information. You can use this herb easily by making an infusion.

Firstly, make sure you purchase organic red raspberry leaf from a reputable source. It’s very economical to purchase a bulk bag. It should smell fresh and look fluffy. It should list the herb as the sole ingredient. You could also purchase a smaller quantity at a local shop. Secondly, I recommend that you avoid it in tea bag form because it’s hard to get a significant medicinal dosage with such a small quantity.

To make an infusion, you can use one of these methods:

  • In a quart jar or saucepan, pour 1 quart of hot water (boil water and let it sit for a minute) over 1oz dried herb. Let it steep for 4-8 hours. This makes a very strong infusion. Strain and enjoy warm or cool.
  • For a lighter tea, pour 1 cup hot water over 1 Tbsp dried herb.

Did you use red raspberry leaf in pregnancy? I would love to hear your experience.

*Please consult with your doctor or midwife before using. As a student herbalist and birth worker, I strive to provide you with resources to discuss in coordination with your care provider.

If you’re thinking, “This sounds great! Show me more!” then you definitely need to check out my new guide. My Birth Planning Guide is up in the shop. This is THE GUIDE you need to manifest the best birth possible.

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