Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: Are There Health Benefits?

Red raspberry leaf is part of the raspberry plant that has been used as a traditional remedy for pregnant and postpartum women. Although red raspberry leaf has been cultivated for its culinary and medicinal benefits for centuries, modern science has not been able to confirm all of the claims traditionally made about red raspberry leaf tea. 

Raspberry plants are hardy perennials in the rose family. Despite the name, the red raspberry leaf tea doesn’t take like raspberries. It tastes like a common black tea.

Red raspberry leaves are cultivated in northern climates. Their leaves have been touted for their health benefits during and after pregnancy, such as boosting milk supply in lactating women and inducing labor in pregnant women.

However, modern scientific research into these claims has not confirmed health benefits to red raspberry leaf tea, and warns that the herb may even be harmful in some cases. Many studies were conducted using animals and need to be researched further.

Nutrition Information

One cup of red raspberry leaf tea is not a source of calories or other macronutrients. However, red raspberry leaf is a good source of:

Red raspberry leaf tea is also an excellent source of potassium. Studies have shown that potassium may help keep blood pressure in a health range and reduce the risk of stroke.

Potential Health Benefits of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Red raspberry leaf is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. However, what makes red raspberry leaf so potent can also create complications for people with certain medical conditions. 

Although research has yet to confirm the benefits of red raspberry tea, there are a number of claimed health benefits to drinking it:

Lactation Support

Red raspberry leaf is a traditional remedy for boosting milk production in lactating women. However, clinical research has not shown any benefit to drinking red raspberry leaf tea for women who are breastfeeding.

Although no side effects to drinking red raspberry leaf tea have been detected in these trials, it does contain polyphenols that are detectable in breast milk. Women who are nursing should discuss any use of supplements with their healthcare providers. 

Continued

Induction of Labor

In a survey of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, 63% of the certified nurse-midwives (CNM) reported using red raspberry leaf as an herbal supplement for labor induction in pregnant women. The most cited reason for the use of red raspberry leaf and other herbal preparations included that they are a “natural” alternative to pitocin.

However, 21% of CNMs reported complications associated with herbal labor stimulants, including early labor, prolonged uterine contractions, nausea, and vomiting.

Weight Loss

Red raspberry leaf has been recommended as a tonic to improve fat metabolism and encourage weight loss. It is often sold as a “detoxifying” supplement meant to improve body composition and overall health.

However, a scientific study found no effects, neither harmful nor beneficial.

Potential Risks of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Because red raspberry leaf tea contains potent ingredients, you should consult with your doctor before taking it or any other supplement. Consider the following before preparing or drinking red raspberry leaf tea:

Pregnancy Concerns

The effects of red raspberry leaf tea on someone who is pregnant or breast-feeding are inconclusive. Since many studies were conducted using animals, additional research to understand the effects on humans is required. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding a baby, it is best to discuss any potential risks with your healthcare provider. 

Medication Interference

Because red raspberry leaf may interact with some medications, speak to your healthcare provider before beginning supplementation with red raspberry leaf. 

Estrogenic Effects

Red raspberry leaf may mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Speak to your doctor before starting supplementation with red raspberry leaf if you are sensitive to the effects of estrogen. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 29, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Family Physician: “Methods for Cervical Ripening and Induction of Labor.”

Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice: “Raspberry leaf — Should it be recommended to pregnant women?”

Czech J. Food Sci.: “Antioxidant Capacity and Antioxidants of Strawberry, Blackberry, and Raspberry Leaves.”

Drugs and Lactation Database: “Raspberry.”

European Food Research and Technology: “Detection of estrogenic activity in herbal teas by in vitro reporter assays.”

Frontiers in Plant Science: “Epigenetic regulation of bud dormancy events in perennial plants”

Harvard Medical School: “The Importance of Potassium.”

Integrative Medicine (Fourth Edition): “Red Raspberry Leaf.”

International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research: “HERBS IN PREGNANCY AND LACTATION: A REVIEW APPRAISAL”

Journal of Dietary Supplements: “A Purported Detoxification Supplement Does Not Improve

Body Composition, Waist Circumference, Blood Markers, or Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Healthy Adult Females.”

Journal of Food Composition and Analysis: “Mineral analysis of ten types of commercially available tea.”

Journal of Nurse Mid-Wifery: “A National Survey of Herbal Preparation Use by Nurse-midwives for Labor Stimulation. Review of the Literature and Recommendations for Practice.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination

Get Diet and Fitness Tips In Your Inbox

Eat better and exercise smarter. Sign up for the Food & Fitness newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.