People have used red raspberry leafs for centuries because of unproven health benefits. Raspberry leaf tea side effects are minimal, but so is the evidence that suggests you'll see any positive effects from using red raspberry leaves.
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There are no reported side effects from using red raspberry leaf when consumed in food. Higher concentrations, such as in supplements, may also be safe, but further research is needed both for the benefits and potential for harmful side effects.
Red Raspberry Leaf Health Benefits
Red raspberries are a profitable crop throughout North America and Europe. Red raspberries are known for their sweet taste. You might eat raspberries raw or in jams. In smaller quantities, you can use red raspberry leaf for flavor.
In addition to food, there are many potential medicinal uses of red raspberry leaf. Some people even use red raspberry leaves for treating gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. Because of this you may have heard of trying red raspberry tea to reduce common stomach ailments like diarrhea. Some claim women can use it for reducing pain and discomfort associated with labor or menstrual cramping, and still others believe it can help with sore throats, rashes, flu symptoms and heart issues.
But before you get excited, it is important to note that not all of the claims are backed with clinical research. In other words, the healing capacity of red raspberry leaves is largely anecdotal and needs further research to back up people's claims.
According to the Berry Health Benefits Network, red raspberries contain several antioxidants that may help prevent cancer. They may even help with heart disease and other conditions. The Network cites research studies using animal subjects. Also of note, they stated that eating whole raspberries is much more effective in getting the full antioxidant effect compared to consuming only part of the plant. This could indicate that red raspberry leaf tea benefits are limited at best.
Other research published in June 2016 in Antioxidants reports that red raspberry leaves may be an anti-inflammatory food and have properties, as well as protection, for the heart and brain. These effects are due to the bioactive compounds found in the leaves.
Raspberry Leaf Tea Side Effects
There are limited to no raspberry leaf tea side effects for most people. Those that do exist appear as mild cases of diarrhea and increased frequency of urination due to the tea's diuretic properties. Otherwise, there are no known side effects for the average person drinking raspberry leaf tea.
Still, there are groups of people who should use special precaution. These include people living with diabetes and people with hormone-sensitive conditions as well as pregnant women.
People living with diabetes should know that red raspberry leaf tea may lower blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and start to drink raspberry leaf tea, you should check your blood sugar counts more frequently at first. When combined with diabetes medication, it may contribute to an unsafe drop in blood sugar.
As an example, a case study published on December 2016 in Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that a pregnant woman with gestational diabetes required less insulin when consuming raspberry leaf tea. However, more research is needed to fully prove the effects red raspberry leaf tea has on lowering blood sugar.
Read more: Vegetables that Lower Blood Sugar
If you have a hormone-sensitive condition, such as breast cancer, you should not take raspberry leaf tea or supplements. Raspberry leaf can act like estrogen, which can cause conditions to get worse.
Red Raspberry Leaf and Pregnancy
Pregnant women should be particularly cautious before starting to drink red raspberry leaf tea. In fact, if you are pregnant, you should speak to your doctor before starting to drink raspberry leaf tea. It is most likely safe to drink raspberry leaf tea in the late third trimester.
Typically, midwives use the tea to help ease labor pain. According to a 2018 book Integrative Medicine (Fourth Edition), there is evidence that raspberry tea leaves can help make uterine muscle contractions more uniform, which can ease some discomfort and improve labor.
Also, the book notes that there is contradictory or non-conclusive evidence supporting exactly what raspberry leaf tea does for a woman during pregnancy. The book suggests 1 to 3 cups a day is typical dosage. Regardless, if you are pregnant, you should not start using raspberry leaf tea unless you are getting medical supervision.
- Obstetrics & Gynecology: "Raspberry Leaf and Hypoglycemia in Gestational Diabetes Mellitus.
- Berry Health Benefits Network: "Health and Healing Fact Sheets: Red Raspberries"
- Antioxidants: "Berry Leaves: An Alternative Source of Bioactive Natural Products of Nutritional and Medicinal Value"
- Science Direct: "Red Raspberry Leaf"