Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Dec 19, 2018.
Scientific Name(s): Rubus Bushii L.H. Bailey, Rubus idaeus L., Rubus occidentalis H. Lev., Rubus strigosus Michx.
Common Name(s): Black raspberry, Bokbunja, Red raspberry
Little pharmacologic evidence is available to support the use of raspberry leaf in pregnancy, menstruation, or during childbirth. Evidence suggests dried black raspberries may improve vascular endothelial function, decrease total serum cholesterol level, and decrease inflammatory cytokines in adults with metabolic syndrome. Raspberry fruit and leaf extracts have shown activity on cancer cell lines, possibly due to an antioxidant effect; however, no clinical trials exist.
Traditional dosages include 5 to 10 mg (1 to 2 tsp) crushed leaf per 240 mL of water up to 6 times per day, or up to 12 g dry leaf. For improvement of vascular endothelial function and lipid changes in patients with metabolic syndrome, 750 mg of dried black raspberries each day for a period of 12 weeks has shown to be effective. However, substantiated clinical applications for dosage recommendations are lacking.
Contraindications have not been identified.
Avoid use during pregnancy; adverse effects have been documented. Information regarding safety during lactation is lacking.
Use of raspberry leaf preparations has been promoted by nurse-midwives for strengthening the uterus and shortening the duration of labor. However, there are too few studies upon which to substantiate either the efficacy or the safety of this practice.
None well documented.
Information regarding adverse reactions with the use of raspberry fruit is limited. No adverse events were reported in a clinical study evaluating the effect of raspberry tea during pregnancy.
Information is generally lacking for raspberry leaf; raspberry fruit is considered nontoxic.
- Rosaceae (rose)
The cultivated red raspberry R. idaeus (Eurasian) or R. strigosus (North American, also known as R. idaeus var. strigosus) are 2 of many Rubus species worldwide. While the berries are cultivated as food items, the leaves have been used medicinally. Raspberries grow as brambles with thorny canes bearing 3-toothed leaflets and stalked white flowers with 5 petals. The red berries detach easily from their cores when ripe. While some species of Rubus primarily reproduce clonally and commercial red raspberries are propagated as clones, DNA fingerprinting has indicated that wild R. idaeus populations exhibit substantial genetic diversity. 1, 2
Red raspberry leaves were used for their astringent properties to treat diarrhea in the 19th century. A strong tea of raspberry leaves was used in painful or profuse menstruation and to regulate labor pains in childbirth. A decoction of the leaves to suppress nausea and vomiting was used by the Eclectic medical movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A gargle of raspberry leaf infusion has been used for sore throats and mouths, and to wash wounds and ulcers, while Mongolian herdsmen have used the roots for symptoms of hypertension and hepatitis.3, 4, 5, 6
The fruit of the raspberry plant is a rich source of a diverse range of polyphenols and flavonoids (ie, anthocyanins, ellagitanins), as well as carbohydrates and glycosides. Carotenoid and tocopherol content have also been reported.7, 8, 9, 10
Analytical methods have been described.7 Storage of the fruit and its irradiation to kill pathogens have been shown to affect the total phenolic content and antioxidant capacity to a limited extent.12
Uses and Pharmacology
In vitro studies show inhibition of inflammatory mediators.13 In a rat model of antigen-induced arthritis, raspberry extract reduced inflammation and damage to the cartilage at higher dosages.14 Anti-inflammatory effects were demonstrated in a study with mouse models with ulcerative colitis administered black raspberry powder. Reductions in proinflammatory mediators and inflammatory response on histological examination were reported.15
A small open-label, randomized crossover trial conducted in 10 healthy men 55 to 72 years years of age investigated the effect of black raspberry (R. occidentalis) consumption on postprandial inflammation in overweight and obese participants. Diet restrictions during the 14-day study included low-phenolic foods and avoidance of strenuous exercise, alcohol, and excess salt. Participants were randomized into 2 groups that consumed either a high-fat, high-caloric breakfast alone or 15 minutes after consuming lyophilized black raspberries (45 g in approximately 1 cup of water), and then crossed over. Changes in the area under the curve (AUC) were significantly lower for serum IL-6 during the postprandial period with raspberry consumption compared to baseline. No other significant changes were noted in AUCs for tumor necrosis factor-alpha or for C-reactive protein with or without raspberry consumption. Adverse events related to treatment included dark stools (8), mild constipation (1), loose stools (2), and hematoma at injection site (2).50
Extracts of the fruit and seed oil have been evaluated in mice, hamsters, and rats for their effect on blood pressure and plasma lipid profiles with equivocal results.6, 16, 17, 18, 19 Limited in vitro studies have also been conducted.20
Plant roots of raspberry have been used traditionally by Mongolian herdsmen for symptoms of hypertension.6 A placebo-controlled trial suggests the dried raspberries themselves can cause favorable lipid changes.49
A prospective randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in adults with metabolic syndrome (N = 77) identified significant improvements from baseline with the use of black raspberry (750 mg/day × 12 weeks) in total cholesterol (−22.8 vs −1.9 mg/dL), total cholesterol/high-density lipoprotein ratio (−0.31 vs 0.07), brachial artery flow-mediated dilatation (0.33 vs 0.1 mm), and cellular inflammatory parameters such as IL-6 (−0.4 vs −0.1 pg/mL) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (−2.9 vs 0.1 pg/mL) (P < 0.05 for each).49
In vitro and animal studies investigating the effect of raspberry fruit and leaf extracts on cancer cell lines have shown activity including inhibition of proliferation and antiangiogenesis, regulation or induction of apoptosis, and inhibitory effects on transcription factor. An antioxidant mechanism of action is primarily suggested, as well as anti-inflammatory and synergistic activity. Antiandrogenic activity has also been demonstrated. Stomach, colon, breast, hepatic, and dermal cancer cell lines have been investigated.21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32
There are no clinical data regarding raspberry for use in cancer.
Blackberry (R. strigosus) leaves, which have similar chemistry to raspberry leaves, had a slight hypoglycemic activity in rabbit models; however, the chemistry responsible for this effect was not elucidated.33, 34
In a small clinical study (N = 12), the addition of raspberries to the diet had no effect on the glycemic response.35
Use of raspberry leaf preparations during pregnancy and prior to labor has been promoted by nurse-midwives for strengthening the uterus and shortening the duration of labor.36, 37, 38 However, there are too few studies upon which to substantiate either the efficacy or the safety of this practice.36, 37
Studies have shown that commercial red leaf preparations promote contractions in animal and human uterine tissue. However, the concentrations used to achieve these effects are higher than would usually be consumed, and not all in vitro and animal studies found similar results.36, 39 Effects of raspberry leaf consumption during pregnancy have been demonstrated on the offspring of the maternal rats (see Toxicology).
Very limited case reports exist together with the findings from 1 retrospective and 1 prospective study. The data from the retrospective study (N = 57) suggested an association for red leaf tea consumption and shortened labor, as well as a decreased need for intervention. Similarly, the prospective study (N = 96 in both intervention and comparator groups) found a nonsignificant trend toward a shortened second stage of labor and the need for assisted delivery.36, 37, 38
A hepatoprotective effect of raspberry ketone in rats with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis suggested mechanisms that include decreased inflammation and improved antioxidant capacity.40
Intravenous extract of R. idaeus roots reduced formation of calcium oxalate nephrolithiasis in mice.41 Hair growth–promoting activity42 and depigmentation43 by raspberry ketone has been described in rodent studies.
Root polyphenols have been shown to exert strong antibacterial activity, including against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, in limited in vitro studies.13
Traditional dosages include 5 to 10 mg (1 to 2 tsp) crushed leaf per 240 mL of water up to 6 times per day, or up to 12 g dry leaf.5 For improvement of vascular endothelial function and lipid changes in patients with metabolic syndrome, 750 mg of dried black raspberries each day for a period of 12 weeks has been shown to be effective.49 However, substantiated clinical studies for dosage recommendations are lacking.
Pregnancy / Lactation
Information regarding safety during lactation is lacking. Avoid use during pregnancy; documented adverse effects include antigonatographic activity and stimulation of contraction in pregnant human uterine tissue.30, 36, 45
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None well documented.
Information regarding adverse reactions with the use of raspberry fruit is limited.4 No adverse events were reported in a clinical study evaluating the effect of raspberry tea during pregnancy.44 An outbreak of a strain of norovirus in 2009 was associated with the importation of frozen raspberries in Finland.46
Limited studies in rats have demonstrated effects of raspberry leaf consumption during pregnancy in offspring. One study reports early reproductive maturity in the first generation female offspring and decreased body weight in the second generation, while another study reported effects on the cytochrome P450 system in both the male and female offspring of maternal rats.39, 48
- Rubus idaeus var. strigosus
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