Red Raspberry Leaf: A Review of its Safety and Efficacy in Pregnancy and Labor
Suzann M. Zick, ND, MPH
Red raspberry leaf (RRL (Rubus idaeus folium is one of the most commonly used herbs during pregnancy and labor. Despite its widespread use very little is known about its safety and efficacy for pregnancy-related conditions. To address this we performed a review (e.g. MEDLINE, CINAHL during 2004 for papers pertaining to this topic. In animals, RRL causes uterine contractions in relaxed uterine strips and relaxation in contracted uterine strips. These results depend on the dose and type of preparation of the raspberry. Human data suggests RRL causes more coordinated uterine contractions during labor, decreases the various stages of labor, and diminishes the need for interventions during labor without significant side effects to mother or infant. However, these findings did not reach statistical significance and are limited by numerous methodological flaws. In addition, teratogenic studies are needed to further ascertain safety of RRL.
In the U.S. and Western Europe, Rubus idaeus folium, commonly known as red raspberry leaf (RRL, is used for the treatment of various pregnancy-related conditions 1-4. RRL contains high levels of hydrolyzable tannins, ascorbic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium that are thought to give the plant its medicinal action 5, 6. The first recorded use of RRL was in the sixth century A.D., when Dioscorides wrote an entire monograph about its medicinal uses 7. Historically, RRL was used for numerous aspects of pregnancy and labor including promoting