A few scratches on our hands and forearms are worth it when enjoying sweet and juicy wild raspberries. Incredibly fragrant and tasty, these plants produce abundant harvests of bright red berries from about mid-summer to the first frost.
Wild raspberry, also known as Rubus idaeus, grows in many different soil conditions and can be found in woodlands, along roadsides, or beside the garden. But despite being a delicious treat, many gardeners consider the raspberry canes to be pesky weeds. The plant propagates quickly, and suckers begin to spread. Flowerbeds and vegetable patches can easily be overcome by it.
From Invader To Medicine
Although invasive, it’s not such a bad idea to find some space for wild raspberry plants. The sweet flavor of the delicious fruits and the countless number of recipes we can include them in is reason enough, but wild raspberries also offer many medicinal benefits.
Food that grows in the wild is rich in nutrients and tends to be more flavourful than what you find at the supermarket. Wild raspberries are no exception and are rich in vitamin C, minerals, and fiber. The nutritious berries help boost the immune system, nourish the blood, and protect against heart disease and various cancers thanks to their many antioxidants, phenolic acids, and anthocyanins.
A Long History
The wild red raspberry plant is a precious medicine long appreciated in herbalism and folk medicine. Indigenous people foraged the fruit for both food and medicine immediately after the ice age!
Dried leaves, picked before the flowers bloom, are delicious when made as tea. A high tannin content makes the brew similar to black tea but without caffeine. A wild raspberry infusion contains many vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and vitamins B, C, and E. The concoction can help build healthy bones and teeth or can be taken after an illness to help with recovery.
A tea made with raspberry leaves is easy to make! Use up to two tablespoons of dried herb and steep in a cup of hot water for 10-15 minutes. Add a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup, if desired.
The raspberry leaves are astringent and anti-inflammatory. These two herbal actions can help to slow diarrhea and tighten mucosal tissue in leaky gut syndrome or general intestinal inflammation. The astringency will help heal wounds and sore eyes. Eye drops made from a cooled, filtered decoction of raspberry leaves have been used as a treatment for conjunctivitis. A mouth wash from the tea will help with bleeding gums, mouth sores, or mouth inflammation.
A Woman’s Best Friend
The wild raspberry plant has been used for centuries to support reproductive health in women, and the gentle herb can ease menstrual pain. Although herbal medicines are often discouraged for expecting mothers, raspberry leaves have long been used by midwives to help women through their pregnancies and prepare them for childbirth. A herbal infusion made with the leaves nourishes the body and strengthens and tones uterine muscles, which can help reduce labor pains and their duration.
The infusion also helps increase a mother’s milk, relieves nausea, and the high iron content prepares the body for blood loss during childbirth. The uterine tonic made with red raspberry leaves also helps tighten and tone the womb.
Despite being safe for pregnant women, wait until the second or third trimesters before drinking a wild raspberry tea. There is some concern that the drink may stimulate the uterus and potentially cause a miscarriage.
While raspberry leaves are a nourishing food that is safe to eat, always check with a health practitioner before enjoying the benefits associated with any medicinal herb.