4 Benefits Of Raspberry Leaf Tea, From Experts In Ayurveda & Hormone Health
Known for its vibrant color and fruity flavor, raspberry leaf tea doubles as a tasty herbal tea and a natural remedy to support women's health. Still, many people may have reservations when it comes to whether or not raspberry leaf tea is actually safe and effective.
We turned to a few experts to learn more about the potential ways that raspberry leaf tea benefits your health, plus how much you should be sipping each day.
What is raspberry leaf tea?
Raspberry leaf tea is derived from the leaves of the red raspberry plant, a plant native to Europe and certain parts of Asia, which is also known for its tart, bright red berries. Raspberry leaf tea has a fruity, slightly earthy flavor that is often compared to black tea. And just as you might expect, it also has a deep red hue that is reminiscent of raspberries.
This herbal tea is a staple in traditional forms of medicine, such as Ayurveda, according to Ananta Ripa Ajmera, an Ayurvedic practitioner, co-founder and director of The Ancient Way, and author of The Way of the Goddess. "Raspberry leaf tea is used to lower the amount of heat and inflammation people experience in their bodies," she says.
Ajmera explains that it's especially beneficial for digestion, which is the key to overall health, according to the principles of Ayurveda. It's also been associated with benefits for women's health, which we'll get to below.
Today, raspberry leaf tea is widely available in supermarkets and specialty shops alike. In terms of cost, it's also comparable to many other varieties of herbal tea, with prices ranging from $0.20 to $0.50 a piece for prepackaged tea bags and $1 to $2 per ounce for loose-leaf versions.
Benefits of raspberry tea
Raspberry leaf tea is rich in antioxidants1, along with other beneficial plant compounds like tannins. What's more, it might also boast some health benefits, especially for women—though not all of its benefits have been supported by modern science. Here are a few of the potential ways that raspberry leaf tea could boost your health:
It could be beneficial during late pregnancy.
"Consumption [of red raspberry leaf tea] is associated with less medical interventions during labor when the tea is consumed toward the end of pregnancy," says Jolene Brighten, M.D., a board-certified naturopathic endocrinologist and expert in women's health and hormone balance.
She also notes that some studies suggest that it may help shorten labor2, though more research is needed.
Interestingly, both human and animal studies also show that raspberry leaf tea could help relax the uterus, which could be beneficial for preventing preterm labor2.
However, keep in mind that the jury's still out on whether or not it's 100% safe during all stages of pregnancy. If you're expecting, be sure to run it by your doctor or midwife before making raspberry leaf tea a regular part of your routine.
It can make PMS more tolerable.
Many women swear by raspberry leaf tea before and during their period. According to Ajmera, raspberry leaf tea may help ease cramps and nausea while enhancing digestion, all of which can be beneficial during that time of the month. Plus, Brighten adds that it "can be a source of magnesium and calcium, both of which may help improve PMS and menstrual cramps."
The European Medicines Agency's Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC) claims that raspberry leaf tea could help relieve period spasms and diarrhea (another unpleasant PMS symptom) based on its long history of use in traditional medicine. Still, like many of the other purported benefits of raspberry leaf tea, they also note that there's not a lot of research on how (or if) it actually works.
It might promote postpartum healing.
Ajmera says that raspberry leaf tea is a great tonic to support postpartum healing. She explains that it can help prevent bleeding and hemorrhaging, thanks to its ability to calm the pitta dosha, a type of heat energy in the body, according to Ayurveda. Not only that, but Ajmera also notes that it may help improve both the quantity and quality of breastmilk after giving birth, making it a popular choice among new moms.
Keep in mind that there's limited research available on the effects of raspberry leaf tea after giving birth. While a few studies have found that herbal teas containing raspberry leaf tea3 and other herbs could increase milk supply and boost the antioxidant content of breastmilk, it's not completely clear whether or not these effects can be attributed to raspberry leaf alone. Furthermore, its safety during breastfeeding has also been called into question by organizations such as the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) in the UK. Again, you should talk to your doctor before sipping it if you're pregnant or recently pregnant.
It could support digestive health.
Some claim that red raspberry leaf tea acts as a digestive tonic and can help relieve digestive distress and prevent nausea. But once again, the research on its effects on digestive health is pretty scant.
Regardless, many turn to raspberry leaf tea as soon as tummy troubles strike, claiming it can help treat everything from morning sickness to constipation, indigestion, bloating, and beyond.
Is it safe?
Though some of the benefits of raspberry leaf tea are still up for debate, there seems to be a general consensus that it's safe for most adults when enjoyed in moderation. In fact, the European Union's HPMC notes that there haven't been any side effects or risks reported with raspberry leaf.
Some health organizations, including the United Kingdom's Committee on Toxicity, point out that because there's not a whole lot of research on raspberry leaf tea, it's not recommended for adolescents or people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, according to Brighten, some advise against drinking the tea during early pregnancy, thanks to a 1950s study in rodents, which found that it could cause2 uterine contractions.
Therefore, it's a good idea to check in with your doctor before drinking it, especially if you're pregnant. Depending on how far along you are and whether you have any complications or a history of preterm labor, your doctor might recommend sticking to other types of tea instead.
Some anecdotal side effects have also been reported. For example, some people claim that raspberry leaf tea acts as a natural laxative, meaning that going overboard could lead to more frequent bathroom visits. Drinking large amounts might also cause other digestive issues, such as nausea or vomiting, so try to keep your intake at around one to three cups per day.
How to brew it
There are several ways to whip up a soothing cup of this tasty tea. Try adding about a tablespoon of loose-leaf raspberry leaf tea (or a single tea bag) to a cup of boiling water and steeping for 10 to 15 minutes before you strain and enjoy.
If iced tea is more your speed, simply refrigerate the brewed tea for a bit, pour over a cup filled with ice cubes, and top it off with a few of your favorite garnishes, such as fresh raspberries, a drizzle of honey, or a spritz of lemon juice.
Keep in mind that steeping your herbal tea for longer can rev up the concentration of your cup. In fact, steeping it for at least 15 minutes before you start sipping can help maximize the beneficial compounds in tea, along with the potential health benefits. Plus, it can even help brighten the color of your tea and give it a bolder, richer flavor.
Other botanicals that show promise for women's health
There are plenty of botanicals beyond raspberry leaf tea that can have a positive impact on your health. Here are a few healthy herbs and herbal teas, especially for women:
- Chasteberry: Also known as vitex berry, this herbal ingredient is often used to correct irregular menstrual cycles4, improve fertility, and ease symptoms of PMS. According to one study, it could even help treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)5, a severe form of PMS that can cause both physical and emotional symptoms.
- Ashwagandha: This powerful adaptogen may help boost your libido. In fact, one study found that ashwagandha was able to improve several aspects of sexual health6 for women, including sexual satisfaction, desire, and arousal.
- Aloe vera: Ajmera recommends aloe vera for women's health, noting that it may help ease menstrual pain7 and improve light or irregular periods.
- Fenugreek: This herb belongs to the legume family of plants and is widely used to increase milk supply8 while breastfeeding. Try brewing up a soothing cup of fenugreek tea, or crush the seeds into a powdered spice and sprinkle on soups, curries, or sauces.
- Maca: Maca is well worth a spot in your medicine cabinet, especially if you're dealing with the uncomfortable symptoms that often accompany menopause. According to one study, supplementing with maca could help ease psychological symptoms9 like anxiety and depression while also lowering measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women.
- Shatavari: According to Ajmera, the adaptogenic herb shatavari10 is used in both traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda to boost milk supply, strengthen the body, and act as a natural aphrodisiac.
Can I drink raspberry leaf tea every day?
For most people, drinking raspberry leaf tea daily is fine. However, it's typically recommended to cap your intake at around three cups per day and check with a doctor before adding it to your diet if you're pregnant or nursing.
Is raspberry leaf tea good for hormones?
There's limited research on whether or not raspberry leaf tea can affect hormone levels. However, according to Ajmera, it may be used to reduce emotional exhaustion in some forms of traditional medicine like Ayurveda, which is believed to help prevent hormonal imbalances.
Who should not drink raspberry leaf tea?
Because there's not much research on its safety for certain populations, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to a doctor before drinking raspberry leaf tea. It might also not be a great choice if you are currently pregnant and have a history of preterm birth or other pregnancy complications.
Can you drink raspberry leaf tea if you're not pregnant?
It's totally fine to enjoy a few cups of raspberry leaf tea each day, even if you're not pregnant. Try sipping a hot cup to wind down before bedtime, or swap it in for coffee or other calming herbal teas in your daily routine.
Even though there's not a lot of research about raspberry leaf tea, it's long been a staple in traditional medicine, and many people swear by it. Some even claim that it offers extra benefits for women especially and may help ease symptoms of PMS, shorten labor, and promote healing postpartum. If red raspberry leaf tea isn't for you, there are lots of other healthy options to choose from. Here's the scoop on the science-backed benefits of tea, plus the best types to brew.
Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD is a registered dietitian and writer based in San Francisco. She holds a master's degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University and an undergraduate degree in Dietetics.
Rachael works as a freelance writer and editor for several health and wellness publications. She is passionate about sharing evidence-based information on nutrition and health and breaking down complex topics into content that is engaging and easy to understand.
When she's not writing, Rachael enjoys experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, reading, gardening, and spending time with her husband and dogs.