This month at The Herb Shoppe, we are honing in on plant medicine that supports the Feminine, as well as plants that support the reproductive health of those with uteruses and those who experience a menstrual cycle. One such plant that perfectly encompasses both of those supports is Red Raspberry Leaf, or Rubus idaeus.
Red Raspberry Leaf is one of Western herbalism’s favorite reproductive tonics: it lends a cooling, flowing yin energy, and, through its astringency, mild diuretic effect, and impressive vitamin content, nourishes and tones the urinary and reproductive systems. Red Raspberry Leaf's light astringency and nutritive properties make it a world-class tonic for relaxed tissue states. It is best known for its tonic, toning effect on the uterus.
Red Raspberry Leaf is also known to reduce morning sickness, strengthen and tone the uterus, ease delivery, prevent the cervix from tearing, and help to tone the uterus postpartum. It is also useful for regulating menstruation. Raspberry Leaf's toning, balancing, and nourishing actions make it a great reproductive health tonic for just about anyone- as well as toning the uterus, it supports prostate health. It can also tone the skin, gut, mouth, and gums, and can help stanch diarrhea, excess vaginal discharge, heavy menstrual flow, and mild (non-life threatening) gastrointestinal and uterine bleeding.
In addition to it's tonifying effects, Red Raspberry Leaf contain high levels of vitamin C, iron, calcium, and bioflavonoids, and makes a nice nutritive tea base for all! We love combining Red Raspberry Leaf with other nourishing, nutritive herbs such as Oatstraw, Nettle Leaf, and Dandelion Leaf.
The best time to harvest Red Raspberry Leaf is just before the plant begins to flower and fruit, as its energy, and medicine, will be concentrated in its leaves. It should be done before the plant blooms in mid-morning, once the dew has evaporated and while the leaves' essential oils and flavor are at their peak. Be sure to wear some protection from the thorns, such as long sleeves and gloves. If harvesting from live plants, take care to leave enough leaves left on the plant to ensure it can create flowers and fruit. Many plants in the Rubus genus, i.e. blackberries and raspberries, can be used as a tonic and astringent, with varying strength.
In the PNW, Himalayan blackberry is an invasive, thorny, thicket forming shrub in the Rose family that produces large, edible blackberry fruits, whose leaves can offer similar medicine to that of Red Raspberry Leaf. If you're are removing Himalayan blackberry in your landscaping plans, you might consider saving some of the leaves for medicine!
Berry Cordial Recipe with Red Raspberry Leaf
This recipe is appropriate for those with a uterus or prostate in helping to tonify and support the health of those organs and overall hormonal health, while not conflicting with hormonal birth control or HRT.
- 1 quart of berries of your choice, such as blackberries, raspberries, etc. Feel free to combine multiple berries to add dimension to the flavor of your cordial!
- 2 Tablespoons Red Raspberry Leaf
- 1 quart of vodka, with more as needed to cover berries and herbs
- 1/2 cup of local honey
- A jar
- Pour the honey into a jar. Fill the remaining space with berries and Red Raspberry Leaf, but do not pack down. Fill the jar with vodka so that the berries and herbs are completely covered. Seal the jar. Let the jar stand for 3-6 weeks, shaking the jar every day. The honey should dissolve, and the vodka will become colored by the berries.
- Strain the liquid through a metal sieve, and then through a coffee filter to remove the fruit. Pour into bottles. Drink as a cordial, or use it to flavor seltzer water, lemonade or iced tea! Enjoy!