This article excerpted from the materia medica of Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Healing for Women, who we're delighted to be welcoming back to the Herbal Conference again this year!
Rubus idaeus, R. strigosus
Parts used: primarily the leaf, but often the whole plant for medicinal purposes
For centuries raspberry leaf was recognized as a powerful uterine tonic by indigenous people throughout the world, but the herb’s uses as an aid in childbirth were largely ignored in the West until the 1940s. At that time, several reports were published in prestigious medical journals extolling raspberry leaf’s extraordinary effects on the uterus and pelvic region, and the herb quickly became famous in the United States and Europe. Such scientific studies and the traditional uses of raspberry leaf both confirm its role as an exceptional aid in pregnancy and childbirth.
The presence of fragarine, an alkaloid found in rich concentrations in the leaf, contributes to the plant’s potency as a pregnancy tonic. Fragarine, in combination with several other of the plant’s constituents, serves to tone and relax the pelvic and uterine muscles. It is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals and is particularly high in calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins B, C, and E.
In the early days of my herb shop, if anyone walked in to purchase raspberry leaf, they were either pregnant or buying the herb for someone who was. This wonderful tonic herbs was largely ignored by everyone else. Fortunately, things have changed. Raspberry leaf is now recognized not only for its value during pregnancy, but also as a woman’s herb in general. (It’s also a great herb for men.) Its astringent properties make it a good remedy for excessive menstruation. The high concentration of vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and iron, make raspberry a wonderful nutritive tonic for use during all the cycles of womanhood.