One of the oldest and most traditional herbal medicines recommended by midwives as well as herbalists on the third trimester of pregnancy among women is the raspberry leaf. Although raspberry leaf does not affect hormone levels directly, it has direct and beneficial properties on the reproductive tissues of women while they are pregnant. Herbal medicines are not recommended to substitute medical care so it is important to talk with your midwife or health care provider prior to taking of raspberry leaf products.
About Raspberry Leaf
Red raspberry leaf is also called Rubus idaeus. It is known as a uterine tonic during pregnancy and a partus preparator for birth as early as in the late 16th century. Raspberry leaf although does not provide plant estrogens or modulating estrogen levels but instead through interaction with the uterus. Ruth Trickey who is a midwife and at the same time author of the “Women, Hormones & the Menstrual Cycle,” noted that the leaf of the raspberry plant has antioxidant properties and also contains vitamin A and C, calcium, tannins and chemicals called as fragrines that can help relax the uterus. Additionally the berries also contain ellagic acid which has the ability to regulate estrogen levels when eaten. However, raspberry fruits are not often found in supplements and that they are not fully recommended during pregnancy.Raspberry Leaf and Hormones
Effects on Uterine Contractions
As published in the 1970 edition of “The British Journal of Pharmacology,” researchers of the London Hospital Medical College examined extracts of the raspberry leaves on its effect on the uterus tissues of animals and rats in vitro. Raspberry leaf is said to have effects on the uterine tissues among pregnant rats and human beings too as it inhibits and coordinates with contraction but it has no effect on pregnant uterine tissues. Researchers also concluded that raspberry leaf had a direct pharmacological effect on the uterus, supporting the historical use of raspberry leaves during pregnancy and labor.
Effects on Duration Labor
It was found out that raspberry leaves may shorten duration of labor when giving birth. As published in “The Australian College of Midwives Incorporated Journal” in 1999, researchers of the Westmead Hospital in Australia made a comparison between the duration of labor of women who took raspberry leaf with those women who do not. They discovered that raspberry leaf had a significant effect on the duration of labor as it shortens it without any known side effects or adverse reactions. Women who took raspberry leaf were less likely to require artificial intervention such as caesarian section, vacuum birth and the use of forceps.
About Safety and Toxicity
Drugs.com said that raspberry leaf is considered safe and non-toxic. It has no side effects, adverse reaction or drug interactions as reported so far. The tannin content of raspberry leaf can result to the decreased of iron absorption in the intestines that’s why it is necessary to take raspberry away from meals. Raspberry also has an effect on uterine muscles and may alter contractions so it must be used only during pregnancy and must be under the supervision of a midwife or a physician.