Month: November 2015

Lower Blood Pressure Naturally With Hibiscus Tea

Recent studies show that hibiscus tea can lower blood pressure as effectively as some standard hypertension drugs can. Hibiscus is widely consumed around the world as a ruby-colored, lemony beverage (it’s the main ingredient in Red Zinger tea).

Hibiscus is safe and, unlike most blood pressure drugs, rarely causes side effects. Plus, hibiscus plants can be grown in much of the United States, so you can actually grow your own blood pressure medicine.

Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) has been used to treat high blood pressure in both African and Asian traditional medicine. In 1996, researchers in Nigeria confirmed this age-old wisdom by showing that hibiscus flowers reduced blood pressure in laboratory animals. Soon after, researchers in Iran showed the same benefit in people. After measuring the blood pressure of 54 hypertensive adults, the researchers gave them 10 ounces of either black tea or hibiscus tea for 12 days. Average blood pressure decreased slightly in the black tea group, but decreased a significant 10 percent in the hibiscus group.

Since then, several additional studies have confirmed this effect, including two that tested hibiscus head-to-head against standard blood pressure medications:

Scientists in Mexico gave 75 hypertensive adults either captopril (Capoten; 25 milligrams twice a day) or hibiscus tea (brewed from 10 grams of crushed dried flowers — about 5 teaspoons per 1 to 2 cups water — once a day). After four weeks, the herb had worked as well as the drug, with both groups showing an 11 percent drop in blood pressure. In another study, the same researchers gave 193 people either lisinopril, (Zestril, Prinivil; 10 milligrams per day) or hibiscus (250 milligrams in the form of a capsule). After four weeks, the herb had worked almost as well as the drug: Blood pressure decreased 15 percent among those on the drug, and 12 percent among those taking hibiscus.

How does hibiscus lower blood pressure? Recent research suggests a combination of reasons: It has diuretic properties, it opens the arteries, and it appears to act as a natural angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, which means it slows the release of hormones that constrict blood vessels. In addition, hibiscus boosts immune function and provides valuable antioxidants.

Dose recommendations vary from about 1 teaspoon of dried “flowers” (technically, the calyxes surrounding the flowers) per cup of boiling water up to the 5 teaspoons used in one of the Mexican studies. Steep five to 10 minutes. If you have high blood pressure, you should own a home blood pressure monitor. Take readings before different doses and retest an hour later to see what works best for you. Check with your doctor prior to taking hibiscus if you’re currently on medication to lower blood pressure — often a combination of an herb and a lower dose of a pharmaceutical provides the same benefit.

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Spearmint Tea Benefits

Spearmint, also simply called mint, is in the same family as peppermint but is a different species. According to the Natural Standard website, spearmint has been used in traditional medicine for centuries.

Ayurveda, which is India’s traditional medical system, acknowledges spearmint for its ability to soothe colic in infants, reduce nausea and help relieve other gastrointestinal issues such as flatulence, stomach aches and irritable bowel syndrome. No side effects to spearmint have been discovered. But it’s always smart to consult with your doctor before taking any herb if you’re pregnant, breast-feeding or on medication.

Remedy for Nausea

Spearmint is considered an anti-emetic herb, which means it works to lessen or alleviate nausea and vomiting. Ayurveda promotes it as a remedy for vomiting during pregnancy. In a study published in “Ecancermedicalscience” in 2013, scientists looked at the effect of spearmint on nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients. Compared to the placebo group, patients administered spearmint oil experienced significantly less nausea and vomiting within 24 hours after consumption. There were no side effects to the spearmint oil, leading the scientists to conclude it’s both safe and effective.

Hirsutism Remedy

Hirsutism is the condition of a woman having a large amount of dark, coarse hair on unwanted places, such as above the lips, on the chin and on the chest and back. It’s caused by having higher levels of male sex hormones, which can be caused by certain medical conditions and drugs. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends drinking 2 cups or spearmint tea a day to treat hirsutism. In a study published in “Phytotherapy Research” in 2007, 12 women with hirsutism were given 1 cup of spearmint tea twice a day for five days. By the end of the study, their levels of male sex hormones had decreased and female hormones increased. The scientists concluded that spearmint could be used to treat mild cases of hirsutism.

It May Kill Bacteria

In a study published in “Microbios” in 2001, scientists looked at the effect of spearmint oil on various types of pathogenic bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, in test tubes. They found that the spearmint oil inhibited growth of all bacterial strains they tested for. The larger the amount of spearmint oil was applied, the larger effect it had on inhibiting the growth of the pathogens. The scientists concluded spearmint has an antibacterial effect. Spearmint is commonly associated with cleanliness, which is why it’s used in mouthwashes, soaps and other products for cleaning. The antibacterial effect of spearmint tea in the human body has not been confirmed, however.

It May Reduce Inflammation In a study published in the Chinese medical journal “Zhejiang Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban” in 2008, scientists investigated the effects of spearmint oil on inflammation in rats. Rats induced with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were given spearmint oil daily for three weeks. By the end of the study, the scientists found that destruction of lung tissue diminished. They concluded the spearmint oil had a protective mechanism and decreased lung inflammation and oxidation. The effect of spearmint tea on inflammation in humans has not been determined.

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How to Harvest & Preserve Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

When I planted raspberries (Rubus idaeus) on the property back in 2010 it was for the delicious fruit. It was years later while researching natural remedies to ease my menstrual symptoms that I discovered that red raspberry leaf tea is a natural remedy for conditions involving the uterus, including menstrual support and menopause (Native American Medicinal Plants).

Red raspberry leaves have also been used as medicine for centuries for pregnancy and childbirth, astringent for skin irritations, gargle for sore throats, and for diarrhea. Raspberry leaf tea has no known side effects or drug interactions, but it can lower blood sugar and impede with the absorption of some vitamins (Healing Herbs A to Z).

It is not known precisely why Raspberry Leaf tea is so effective for uterine health. Herbalists believe that the presence of tannins and the alkaloid fragarine combined with other nutrients, including calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin B, C, and E help tone and relax the pelvic and uterine muscles (Herbal Healing for Women).

After researching, I felt pretty confident in trying red raspberry leaf tea for my menstrual discomforts, and I had plenty of access to leaves to harvest. After drinking raspberry tea for several months, it relieved a lot of my symptoms, including headache, cramps, and overall energy level and moodiness during that time of the month.

I wasn’t completely convinced until I casually remarked to Kevin that I thought the raspberry leaf tea was helping. The next thing I knew, he was outside in the raspberry patch harvesting more raspberry leaves for me to use. Hmmm….

How to Harvest Raspberry Leaves

Collect raspberry leaves before the plant blooms. Harvest mid-morning after the dew has evaporated and before it the sun is hot to preserve the oils and flavor. Wear gloves and long sleeves to protect yourself from the thorns. Select young, healthy leaves that have not been treated with chemicals and clip them from the cane.

I grow Heritage Raspberries, an everbearing variety that produces two crops each season, a light crop in July followed by a heavy crop in fall. I allow the canes to begin leafing out before pruning the raspberry patch in the spring. I cut whole canes and trim the young leaves off into a bowl as I prune.

How to Dry Raspberry Leaves

Wash leaves and drain or pat dry. Spread the leaves out on a screen and allow them to dry naturally away from dust and sunlight. Or you can gather the leaves by their stems, tie the ends, and hang them to dry. Depending on the humidity, drying usually takes 1-2 weeks. The quickest way to dry Raspberry Leaves is by using a dehydrator. Spread the leaves out on the screens and dry at a low temperature. Check every 30-minutes until completely dry. You can tell when the leaves are dry, by crushing a leaf or two. It should crumble easily. Once dry, store leaves lightly packed in a glass jar away from direct sunlight. Try not to crush them to reserve the flavor until you are ready to brew your tea.

How to Make Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Raspberry Leaf Tea tastes like a mild green tea, but without the caffeine. To make tea, use about 1-teaspoon of crushed, dried raspberry leaves per 8-ounce cup of boiling water. Steep for at least 5 minutes and drink like regular tea.

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Is Fenugreek Seed Tea Safe to Drink?

Fenugreek, a kitchen spice and primary ingredient in pickles, is an ancient herb. Egyptian texts attest to its use as early as 1500 B.C. Fenugreek seeds, sometimes taken in the form of a tea, have traditionally been used to treat digestive disorders and menstrual cramps. Herbalists today are likely to advise fenugreek to treat diabetes and high cholesterol. Although human clinical trials are limited, laboratory and animal research supports fenugreek’s ability to lower blood sugar and cholesterol. Consult your doctor before using fenugreek.

Features

Fenugreek, botanically known as Trigonella foenum-graecum and also called methi in Ayurveda, features grayish-green toothed leaves and pale yellow or whitish flowers that develop into seed pods. The yellow-brown seeds within are dried to produce the spice. Fenugreek has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat kidney problems, arthritis and digestive problems; it has also been employed in folk medicine as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory and in poultices to treat boils and swelling. Fenugreek seeds were one of the original ingredients in Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound, a 19th century patent medicine marketed to treat menstrual cramps and menopause symptoms. The seeds, which have a rich, sweet taste, are also used in maple flavoring.

Constituents and Effects

Fenugreek seeds contain a group of glycoside steroidal saponins known as graecunins, as well as the compounds diosgenin and fenugrin B and an alkaloid known as trigonelline. The seeds are rich in protein and mucilagenous fiber. Also present in fenugreek seeds are coumarin compounds, galactomannans and the amino acids lysine and L-tryptophan.

Drugs.com, which provides peer-reviewed medical information to consumers, reports that fenugreek’s high levels of polyphenolic flavonoids give it antioxidant properties in test tubes. Blue Shield Complementary and Alternative Health credits the steroidal saponins in fenugreek with the ability to inhibit both the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines and its production by the liver. The seeds’ high levels of soluble fiber help to reduce blood sugar by slowing down carbohydrate digestion and absorption. Fenugreek may also have the ability to lower triglycerides.

Research

Scientific research supports the protective and antioxidant effects of polyphenols in fenugreek seeds. In a laboratory study published in 2004 in “Plant Foods and Human Nutrition,” researchers found that fenugreek seed extracts protected human red blood cells from oxidative damage, supporting the seeds’ potent antioxidant properties. Researchers credited the gallic acid in the seed extract with the beneficial effect.

Usage and Considerations

You can brew fenugreek tea by adding 1 tbsp. of fenugreek seeds to 1 cup of boiling water. Fenugreektea.org advises letting the mixture steep for 45 minutes to unleash the full beneficial effect of the seeds, then straining, cooling and drinking it after meals to help with digestion. Fenugreek is generally recognized as safe when used as a food. Mild diarrhea and gas may accompany its use. BSCAH notes that this side effect almost invariably resolves after using fenugreek seeds or tea for a few days. Rare allergic reactions have been reported with fenugreek. Traditionally used to hasten delivery, fenugreek can cause uterine contractions; don’t use it if you are pregnant. Fenugreek seeds and tea can interact with prescription drugs, and may increase the effects of anticoagulants such as warfarin. Consult your doctor before using fenugreek.

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Nettle Tea Benefits

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) grows wild in temperate regions around the world. A staple among herbalists, stinging nettle is considered a classic “nutritive” herb, meaning it is very nutrient dense and nourishing. Nettle has been used as food, medicine, and a nourishing tonic since ancient times.

Urtica comes from the Latin urere, meaning “to burn,” because of its erect, bristly hairs covering the leaves and stem which sting when touched. These stinging hairs, along with the leaves’ sharply serrated edges, are distinguishing features of stinging nettle.

Infusing a large amount of dried stinging nettle leaves in water for a long period of time is one of the easiest and most traditional ways to obtain nettle tea benefits.

Nettle’s Nutrients

Stinging nettle is packed with vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals along with hefty dose of potent phytonutrients including deep-green chlorophyll and carotenoids.[2,3] In fact, more than 100 chemical components have been identified in nettle, including:

• Minerals – iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, boron, strontium
• Vitamins – A, C, K, and B vitamins
• Phytonutrients – chlorophyll, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin,[4] quercetin, rutin

Packed with Minerals

Nettle tea, made from dried nettle leaves, is perhaps best known for its high mineral content. The leaves are packed with more minerals, especially magnesium and calcium, than a number of other medicinal herbs.[6] One recent study found that dried nettle leaf has more magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, boron, and strontium than dried chamomile, peppermint, sage, St. John’s wort, linden, and lemon balm.

The exact amounts of various minerals extracted from the leaves into the tea depends on many factors, including the plant’s growing conditions, the type of mineral, the amount of dried nettle leaves and water used when preparing the tea, and the steeping time. One recent study found that 500 mL (about one quart) of tea made with 20 grams (about 0.7 ounces) of dried nettle leaves, steeped for 30 minutes, contains 76 mg of magnesium, which represents about 20-25% of men’s and women’s daily requirement, respectively.[6] This may not sound like much, but it’s quite remarkable for a beverage. Furthermore, most Western herbalists recommend a slightly higher tea to water ratio and longer steeping times than those used in this study in order to potentially increase the mineral content even more. This is discussed more below; first, let’s take a look at some of nettle tea’s other numerous health benefits.

Other Nettle Tea Benefits

In addition to its high nutrient content, results from preliminary studies show that stinging nettle has many other health-promoting properties. For example, nettle has been shown to:

• Decrease oxidative stress. The natural polyphenols in nettle leaves are thought to be responsible the powerful antioxidant abilities of nettle tea. Oxidative stress is implicated in accelerated aging as well as many chronic diseases.
• Relieve pain. Nettle tea has analgesic effects.
• Fight infections. Nettles have antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal effects. Nettle tea has notable antimicrobial activity against gram-positive and -negative bacteria when compared with standard and strong antimicrobial compounds.
• Decrease inflammation. Nettles work as a natural anti-inflammatory through a number of different mechanisms, such as decreasing nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB) binding activity to DNA. Nettle extract, used to treat arthritis, has been shown to decrease levels of pro-inflammatory compounds such as interleukin-6 and • C-reactive protein.
• Lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Nettles are used in diabetics to combat high blood sugar and cardiovascular risk factors.
• Fight cancer. Nettles have a beneficial effect in prostate cancer.
• Heal stomach lining. Nettle tea helps heal the mucosal lining of the stomach in the case of ulcers or stomach irritation.
• Treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Nettle roots instead of the leaves are used to decrease symptoms of enlarged prostate.
• One of the best ways to obtain nettle tea benefits is by steeping a hefty amount of the dried, cut leaves in boiling water inside a large, covered container for a long period of time.
A general guideline for making mineral-rich infusions with nutritive herbs like nettle is to use one ounce of dried herb per quart of filtered or distilled water (or about a heaping tablespoon per eight ounces water). One ounce of plant material per quart of water is generally thought necessary to provide a sufficient quantity of minerals if you drink one quart of tea daily. Consider this: an ounce of dried herb is roughly equivalent to four ounces of fresh plant and although not all the minerals are 100% extracted into the tea, this this mineral beverage is like a liquid salad.

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What is Eucalyptus Tea Good for?

Eucalyptus tea is made from the smooth grey-green leaves of eucalyptus trees and shrubs, which are indigenous to Australia, Tasmania, Indonesia and the Philippines, but now commonly grown in many other subtropical countries. The aromatic oils found in eucalyptus leaves are strong antimicrobials and decongestants, which is why they have been traditionally used to combat colds and nasal congestion. Eucalyptus Tea The pungent lance-shaped eucalyptus leaves are used to make herbal tea, or more accurately called a herbal infusion or tisane, although sometimes a little eucalyptus bark is added too. The leaves have a strong scent because they are rich in aromatic oils such as eucalyptol. The leaves are usually dried and lightly macerated before adding hot water and steeping for at least 15 minutes in order to draw all the beneficial compounds out of the plant fibers. However, don’t use boiling water because some of the compounds are destroyed with high heat.

Benefits of Eucalyptol

Eucalyptol comprises about 70 percent of the volatile oil in eucalyptus leaves. In addition to being a strong antibacterial, eucalyptol affects the mucus membranes that line the nose, sinuses and lungs, which leads to decongestion and the release of mucus and phlegm. Consequently, eucalyptus products such as oil extracts, teas and lozenges are safe and effective for reducing the symptoms of head colds, sore throats, sinus infections and bronchitis. Eucalyptus oil is toxic if consumed in large doses, which is why the leaves are typically heated and inhaled. Eucalyptus tea, which is much more dilute than oil extracts, has the dual benefit of being able to be inhaled and consumed.

Other Beneficial Compounds

Eucalyptus leaves also contain tannins, which are astringents, and caffeic and gallic acids, which are strong antioxidants also found in green tea. Antioxidants eliminate free radicals, which damage a variety of tissues, especially blood vessels and skin. Other strong antioxidants found in eucalyptus leaves include hyperin, eucalyptrin, quercetin, rutin, alpha-pinene, limonene and alpha-termineol. The combination of these compounds with the volatile oils in the leaves makes eucalyptus tea an effective breath freshener, mouthwash, deodorant and topical antibacterial.

Cautions

Side effects from drinking eucalyptus tea are rare and mild, but eucalyptus oil is toxic and harmful in single doses as small as 3.5 milliliters. It’s virtually impossible for you to consume that much oil in one day from drinking eucalyptus tea, but to be on the safe side, it’s probably a good idea not to allow children to drink it. Consult with an herbalist or practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine before consuming large amounts of eucalyptus tea.

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What Are the Benefits of Yellow Saffron Tea?

Yellow saffron tea gets its name because of the yellow color it has when brewed. In reality, saffron tea is made from red-orange-colored saffron threads, the same ones you use for cooking. One of the most expensive spices on the market, saffron has a host of health benefits as well as a naturally rich taste and delicate aroma that are imparted to the brewed tea.

Helps With Premenstrual Syndrome

In a study published in a 2008 issue of “BJOG,” researchers found that taking 30 milligrams of saffron a day led to reduced premenstrual syndrome in women with regular menstrual cycles. The study was conducted over the course of two menstrual cycles. While researchers found the study promising, they stated that a study regarding the safety of consuming saffron in such high quantities – the amount used could make up to 20 cups of tea – was needed before recommending saffron as an alternative treatment to PMS.

May Help Treat Alzheimer’s Disease

In 2010, the “Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics” published a study on saffron and its potential use as an herbal aid for dementia. Study participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease took 30 milligrams of saffron per day for 16 weeks. The study found saffron was safe for use in such high quantities, and those taking the saffron supplement showed improved cognitive function when compared to those on the placebo. While the study suggested saffron may be useful in treating some aspects of Alzheimer’s disease in the short term, longer, randomized studies are still needed.

May Aid Depression

A 2013 issue of the “Journal of Integrative Medicine” included a large-scale analysis on the studies where saffron was used as a potential anti-depressant. Researchers found that when comparing studies conducted on adults and in the presence of a placebo option in the study, saffron showed significant benefits toward relieving the symptoms of depression. They concluded that longer-term trials were needed, however, with greater geographical variety. As well, larger study groups would help further confirm saffron’s safety and efficacy as a natural anti-depressant.

How to Make Saffron Tea

You can purchase yellow saffron teabags or make tea from loose saffron threads. Because saffron is expensive, teabags may not contain the best quality or as much saffron. Making it at home gives you more control over the final product. While you can steep the threads in only room-temperature water to make iced tea, using water that’s around 180 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended so that the aromatic and health compounds are fully released. Use a 1-teaspoon serving, a little over 1 milligram, of threads for every 8 ounces of water. Let the tea steep for at least 10 minutes. The threads dissolve when exposed to hot water, so give your tea a quick stir before drinking. Saffron tea can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to three days.

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What Are the Benefits of Bitter Melon Tea?

Bitter melon, the fruit of a vine in the cucumber family, has the impressive appearance of a warty cucumber. Bitter melon is grown and eaten as a vegetable throughout Asia and it also prepared and consumed as a tea. Bitter melon has traditionally been used for a variety of purported medicinal benefits, some of which have been proven scientifically.

Blood Sugar Management

Herbalists and natural medicine practitioners often recommend bitter melon to help control blood sugar in Type 2 diabetes, according to New York University Langone Medical Center. Typical doses range from 50 to 100 mililiters of fresh juice divided into two to three doses throughout the day. A study on laboratory animals published in the September 2005 issue of the journal “Plant Foods For Human Nutrition” found that bitter melon lowered blood sugar levels by up to 30 percent and improved kidney function. However, bitter melon may enhance the effects of diabetes medication and cause hypoglycemia, which is a condition in which a person has a dangerously low blood sugar level. Consult your doctor about using bitter melon to manage blood sugar levels.

Cancer Prevention

Bitter melon tea may offer protective benefits against some forms of cancer, according to a study published in the September 2012 issue of the journal “Natural Product Communications”. In the tissue culture study, water-extract of bitter melon killed human kidney cancer and colon cancer cells. In an animal study that appeared in the November 2012 issue of the journal “Cancer Letters”, bitter melon extract induced early cell death in liver cancer. Researchers concluded that bitter melon shows promise as a safe, natural preventive for liver cancer. Further studies are need to determine whether these preliminary benefits extend to humans, however.

Cancer Therapy

Bitter melon tea may make chemotherapy drugs more effective, according to a study that appeared in the January 2012 issue of the “Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.” In the tissue culture study of human cervical cancer cells, treatment with bitter melon leaf extract made the cells more susceptible to the effects of drugs commonly used to treat cervical cancer and increased the amounts of the drugs that the cancer cells absorbed. Researchers concluded that bitter melon leaf extract could possibly offer benefits for preventing drug resistance in cancer patients.

Antibacterial and Anti-Inflammatory

Anti-inflammatory properties of a variety of bitter melon known as wild bitter melon may help prevent some forms of acne, according to a study published in the December 2012 issue of the journal “Food Chemistry.” In the animal study, bitter melon extract inhibited growth of an acne-causing bacteria. In a study that appeared in the March 2009 issue of the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” hot water extracts of wild bitter melon reduced levels of several inflammatory molecules. There was significant antioxidant activity where anti-inflammatory effects were observed.

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Science Says Drinking Chamomile Tea Could Help Women Live Longer

A cup of chamomile tea soothes a cold and calms stress, but its benefits appear to stretch beyond that.

New research shows a correlation between regular chamomile tea consumption and a lowered risk of death by any cause in older women.

Over a period of seven years, a team analyzed 1,677 Mexican-American subjects of both sexes, aged 65 or older, who were enrolled in the Hispanic Established Populations for Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly.

Of the 14 percent who drank chamomile tea, only the women appeared to benefit from regular consumption.

However, it was a remarkable benefit: Women who drank the tea were 29 percent less likely than their peers to die of any cause during the study.

Right now, the team’s not sure how its results came about.

Study author Bret Howrey offered possible connections, saying in a press release,

The reason for a difference in our reported findings between Hispanic women and men is not clear…

This difference may be due to traditional gender roles whereby women manage the day-to-day activities of the household, including family health, and may also reflect greater reliance on folk remedies such as herbs.

Women, the study notes, are also more likely to use chamomile over a longer period of time and at a greater frequency than their male counterparts. Indeed, chamomile has long been known as a home remedy for almost every illness. According to a 2011 peer-reviewed article, it can be used as anything from a poison ivy aid to a way to ease insomnia.

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Red Raspberry Leaf Tea In Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably heard about red raspberry leaf tea and it’s benefits as a uterine tonic. What is red raspberry leaf? As it’s name suggests, red raspberry leaf is a herb derived from red raspberry leaves. It’s been used medicinally for thousands of years, including amongst indigenous Australian cultures. In the 1940s, western medicine practitioners began to use it as a tonic for the uterus during pregnancy and childbirth. So, what are the benefits of using red raspberry leaf and is it safe? Here’s everything you need to know about red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy.

Health Benefits Of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Red raspberry leaves contains a rich assortment of vitamins including Vitamin B complex, calcium, iron, magnesium and fragarine. Across the world, red raspberry leaf is used to treat flu, diarrhoea and acne. It is used to lower the blood sugar of diabetic women, regulate irregular menstrual cycles, decrease heavy periods and lower blood pressure.

When taken during pregnancy, red raspberry leaf is said to aid the mother’s immune system, ease morning sickness and promote better circulation. Taking raspberry leaf is said to strengthen uterine muscles and tone the pelvic floor in preparation for childbirth, as well as assist with breastmilk supply.

Studies have shown that women who take red raspberry leaf have a reduced incidence of birth interventions. Research has also found that women who drink red raspberry leaf tea regularly towards the end of their pregnancies had shorter second stages of labour than those who don’t.

From a study published by Australian midwives in 1999:

“The sample consisted of 108 mothers; 57 (52.8%) consumed raspberry leaf products while 51 (47.2%) were in the control group. The findings suggest that the raspberry leaf herb can be consumed by women during their pregnancy for the purpose for which it is taken, that is, to shorten labour with no identified side effects for the women or their babies. The findings also suggest ingestion of the drug might decrease the likelihood of pre and post-term gestation. An unexpected finding in this study seems to indicate that women who ingest raspberry leaf might be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes, or require a caesarean section, forceps or vacuum birth than the women in the control group.”

More extensive research is needed, but with very little in the way of side effects and such great benefits observed and recorded, raspberry leaf is a great option for pregnant women.

How Should I Take Red Raspberry Leaf? Lots of pregnant women choose to drink raspberry leaf tea which can be purchased at most supermarkets, health food stores or online. It is available in tea bags or as loose leaf tea – seek out organic, local raspberry leaf tea from a reliable source. Beware of imported cheap teas which may be contaminated with other items.

If you’re not a fan of fruit teas, you can also take red raspberry leaf in tablet form. It is also available as a tincture that can be added to water, juice or tea but be aware that tinctures usually contain alcohol.

How Much Red Raspberry Leaf Should I Take?

It is difficult to be exact with dosages if you drink raspberry leaf tea, because it depends on how long you steep the tea and the quantity you use. The best way to prepare your raspberry leaf tea is to boil a cup of water, placing it into a teapot. Put in a teaspoon of raspberry leaf tea, stir or swish and then let it steep for ten minutes. When ten minutes is up, pour it into your favourite mug and enjoy! The taste of raspberry leaf is a little bitter, so you may want to sweeten it with some honey.

You can have up to 4-5 cups of raspberry leaf tea in your third trimester, but have at least 2-3. If you’re in your first trimester, one cup per day is fine.

If you prefer raspberry leaf tablets, it is suggested that you take two 300mg or 400mg tablets with each meal, three times a day, from 32 weeks (Parsons, 1999).

Potential Side Effects Of Red Raspberry Leaf

Most women do not experience any side effects from taking raspberry leaf tea, however the following side effects are possible:

  • Nausea
  • Loose stools
  • Increase in Braxton Hicks contractions

Can Anyone Take Red Raspberry Leaf?

There is lots of confusing, conflicting information about red raspberry leaf’s contraindications. BellyBelly’s naturopath Nicole Tracy from Nurtured by Nature says that there are no known contraindications for raspberry leaf when used in the third trimester at an appropriate dose, except if previous labour/s have been really fast. You should only use red raspberry leaf under the care of your naturopath or herbalist.

What About Red Raspberry Leaf and VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-Section)? There is also some confusion over raspberry leaf and VBAC. Rest assured, raspberry leaf is safe for VBAC women. Nicole says: “There is often some confusion around raspberry leaf being contraindicated in VBAC births. This is most certainly not the case, and it does not increase the risk of premature labour or rupture of caesarean scars. It is wise for all women (especially those planning a VBAC) to take raspberry leaf in tea, tincture or tablet form from the beginning of the third trimester in gradually increasing amounts. This nutrient-rich herb should be continued for two weeks postnatally to assist with reducing blood loss, toning the uterus and supporting breast milk production.”

When Can I Start Taking Red Raspberry Leaf?

It is generally recommended not to start taking red raspberry leaf until you are at least 32 weeks pregnant, but if you wish to take it sooner, simply check with a good naturopath. You can then continue to take it until the end of the pregnancy. Raspberry leaf tea takes several weeks to accumulate in the body and take effect.

You should start by drinking one cup a day, and gradually increase this up to three cups. If you choose to take capsules, follow the recommended dosage instructions on the label. If you experience strong Braxton Hicks contractions after taking raspberry leaf tea, speak to your healthcare provider.

You can continue to drink red raspberry leaf tea after the birth to help your uterus shrink back down, boost your immune system, assist with milk supply and fight infection.

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