Like blueberries, red raspberries grow wild up the north woods. I have many fond memories seeking out berry patches and eagerly plucking the little red gems off the plant. Unlike blueberries, I would never collect the raspberries, but pop them in my mouth right then and there. It wasn’t until I was much older that I would learn that there was more to the plant than just the delicious fruit!
What’s In Raspberry Leaf Tea and What Does It Do?
Red raspberry leaves are known for easing the pain of menstrual cramps, but it can also help digestive woes as well as support heart health. It has also traditionally been used by pregnant women, as well as post-partum, the thought process being that it can ease labor by helping with pain as well as quickening the process, and “toning” the uterus. There’s quite a bit of mixed research on this, however, anecdotal evidence is extremely strong when it comes to its efficacy and I know of quite a few women who swear by it.
The leaves are rich in magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron, as well as zinc and phosphorus. The leaves also contain a plethora of b-vitamins (B1-thiamine, B2-riboflavin, B3-niacin, B5-pantothenic acid, B6-pyridoxine, and B9-folate) as well as vitamin C. Magnesium and potassium are both macro-minerals, which the body needs in larger amounts to support proper functioning. Iron is a trace mineral-still important, of course, but we don’t need as much of it as macro-minerals. Below the recipe is a simplified and brief explanation for some of the most important constituents of red raspberry leaf, and how they help the body.
*If you decide to consume red raspberry leaf during pregnancy, it is recommended that you wait until your third trimester. Start with 1 cup daily, and over the course of several weeks move up to 3 cups daily. Should you wish to start consuming it sooner, check with a holistic health care provider or your doctor for details.*
You will need…
-2-3 teaspoons of dried red raspberry leaf OR 2-3 tablespoons fresh
-Your favorite mug
-Honey or lemon (optional)
Bring water to a boil and place your leaves in a strainer or tea ball in your mug. Fill the mug with fresh, boiling water and cover, letting it steep, for 6-8 minutes. Remove the leaves, add honey or lemon to taste, and enjoy!
The Nitty-Gritty on Red Raspberry Leaf & Why It’s Good For You
Magnesium: Magnesium is a co-factor over 300 enzyme reactions in the body. Needless to say-it’s kind of important. It regulates protein synthesis-one of the most fundamental biological processes-, muscle and nerve function-including nerve impulse, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm, as well as blood glucose control, blood pressure, and energy production. It aids structural development of bone, and plays a role in the synthesis (basically, production) of DNA and RNA. If you need a little reminder, DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a self-replicating material present in just about every living thing. It is the carrier of genetic information. RNA (ribonucleic acid) is present in all living cells, and essentially carries instructions for DNA regarding the synthesis of proteins. There’s really no simple way to sum up that process…but it’s important!
strong>Potassium: Potassium plays a large role in smooth muscle function. Smooth muscle is the kind in your intestines, heart, etc. as opposed to skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscle you think about contracting-like when you flex your bicep. Smooth muscle is subconscious-you don’t think about making your heart beat, or your intestines contract to push food through. Potassium conducts electricity, along with calcium and magnesium, which regulates the impulses to move these muscles.
Calcium: Much like the other vital minerals, the body cannot produce calcium on its own-which is why it is so important to consume enough of it from healthy outside sources (I am not one to drink a lot of milk, so this was a “concern” for me growing up. Don’t worry-there are other ways to get what you need!) Roughly 99% of the calcium in our bodies is concentrated in our bones and teeth, but it also helps nerves fire, blood to clot, and works with potassium and magnesium to contract muscles. It is, in fact, so vital to muscle function that your body will draw it from your very bones if you do not ingest enough.
Iron: Iron is a mineral that has several roles in the body, the biggest one being the creation of healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Roughly two-thirds of the bodies iron is found in the protein hemoglobin, which is responsible for carrying oxygen from our lungs to other parts of the body. Anemia is when you don’t have enough hemoglobin, and is usually when people start taking iron supplements. Exhaustion, a racing heart, restless legs, shortness of breath-all are common signs of anemia. Women are at the highest risk.
Zinc/Phosphorus: Zinc is a vital part of the immune system, and also ties into the creation of proteins and DNA. Phosphorus, after calcium, is the most abundant mineral in the human body, with 85% of it being located in the bones and teeth. It works closely with calcium to build strong bones and teeth.
B/C Vitamins: In short, B complex vitamins do a variety of jobs, often times working together. They convert nutrients to energy, maintain skin and hair health, regulate stress hormones, and boost HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol.) Vitamin C helps the body form and maintain some of its vital components, including blood vessels, skin, connective tissue, and bones.
When you take a look at the breakdown of the leaves, it’s not hard to see why they would be helpful for heart health, muscles, or even strengthening the uterus. There is no magic “super herb” out there, but red raspberry leaf tea is a great herbal tea to add to your daily routine to keep everything running smoothly.
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