Deciduous shrub growing to 6½ ft (2 m). Has woody stems with prickles, pale green leaves with 3–7 leaflets, white flowers, and red berries.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to Europe and Asia, raspberry now grows wild and is cultivated in many temperate regions. The leaves are collected in early summer, the fruit when ripe in summer.
The fruit contains polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, pectin, fruit sugars, and acids. Raspberry seed oil is rich in vitamin E, carotenes, and essential fatty acids, and is increasingly used in cosmetic skin products.
History & Folklore
In 1735, the Irish herbalist K’Eogh described uses for raspberry: “an application of the flowers bruised with honey is beneficial for inflammations of the eyes, burning fever and boils … The fruit is good for the heart and diseases of the mouth.”
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Raspberry leaves are mainly used to encourage easy labor. While the specific mode of action is unknown, the leaves are thought to strengthen the longitudinal muscles of the uterus, increasing the force of contractions and thereby hastening childbirth. A decoction of raspberry leaves may be used to relieve diarrhea. The leaves also find use as an astringent external remedy—as an eyewash for conjunctivitis, a mouthwash for mouth problems, or a lotion for ulcers, wounds, or excessive vaginal discharge.
A laboratory study in 2012 found that a raspberry fruit extract reduced joint inflammation, cartilage damage, and bone resorption.
Do not take medicinally during the early stages of pregnancy.