Red raspberry (Rubus idaeus)

Red raspberry (Rubus idaeus

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Nicholas A. Tonelli

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Nicholas A. Tonelli

Other common names: Red raspberry, European raspberry, raspis, hindberry, the Bramble of Mount Ida. There are a number of different cultivars in the Rubus genus that share similar properties. Most raspberries used in medicine come from the subgenus Idaeobatus.

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Family: Rosaceae

Actions:

Astringent, diuretic, antioxidant, nutritive, circulatory tonic, stimulant, refrigerant, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, cholagogue, febrifuge, alterative.

Harvest:

Leaves can be harvested from a mature plant throughout the spring and summer.  Harvest berries (raspberries typically start to bear fruit in their second season) when bright red and ripe, usually between mid-summer and the first frost.

Part used: Berries, leaves

Constituents: 

Vitamin C, sugar, volatile oils, pectin, malic acid, polyphenolic compounds, anthocyanins (cyanidin-3-sophoroside, cyanidin-3-(2(G)-glucosylrutinoside)and cyanidin-3-glucoside), ellagitannins (sanguiin H-6 and lambertianin C), flavonols, ellagic acid, hydroxycinnamate, rheosmin (raspberry ketone) and others.

Indications:

Aiding in labour and delivery, skin irritations (especially for cooling “hot” conditions), canker sores, poor circulation, indigestion, fever, gas, ulcers, diarrhea, sore throat, burns, hemorrhoids, acne, diabetes, eczema, painful or heavy periods, morning sickness and prevention of miscarriage in late pregnancy (consult with a doctor or midwife first before using any herb during pregnancy), liver health, weight management, respiratory infections, fluid retention. This is a popular remedy for children suffering from fevers, colds, and digestive upset.

Medicinal preparations:

Internal

Raspberries can of course be eaten fresh or dried, and the leaves are often used dried in capsules, tinctures, gargles, mouth washes or (most commonly) tea. The berries are also used to make vinegars and wines, which can become bases for cough syrups, oxymels and other medicinal preparations.

External

The leaves are applied as a poultice to cool the skin, and help treat burns, rashes and other skin conditions. Tinctures and infusions can also be used to make salves.

Contraindications:

While the berries are safe for most people in culinary doses, consult with a doctor before taking the raspberry leaf if you are pregnant or nursing (while it is used commonly for late prenatal care and delivery, I believe that a pregnant woman should always consult with a doctor or midwife before using ANY medicinal herb). Use caution taking raspberry leaf if you suffer from any estrogen-sensitive condition, such as endometriosis, estrogen-sensitive breast cancer, uterine fibroids, etc. (it can mimic estrogen in the body).

I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns.

Energetic/traditional use:

Photo courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/Oona Räisänen

Photo courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/Oona Räisänen

Raspberry has a cool, dry constitution. It has been associated with femininity and fertility for thousands of years – incorporated in women’s tonics, and also used as a cosmetic to improve skin texture and lighten complexion. Its Latin name comes from the story of Zeus’ nursemaid, Ida, who pricked her finger while picking the originally white berries – her blood giving them their red hue. Raspberry does not bear fruit until its second year – this is considered by some to represent patience and maturity – preparing your roots, and establishing your resources before your creativity comes to fruition. It’s all about planning and nurturing before giving birth – whether it’s a literal birth or the beginning of a new idea or stage of life. Christian artists used a pigment made from the berries, believing that it symbolized gentleness and compassion.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.

 

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