Red raspberry leaf is believed to be an excellent natural astringent, and is sometimes used to dry out wounds, treat acne, and tone skin. It is also used to treat diarrhea and stomach and uterine cramps. Some natural practitioners believe it has fertility properties, but this has not been substantiated. The plant has a long history of medicinal use, which likely originated in ancient Greece. It can be obtained in capsule form, but is usually consumed as a tea.
Most experts seem to agree that red raspberry leaf may work as well as many chemical astringents, because it contains tannins that tighten tissue. In people who suffer from acne or oily skin this may prove beneficial, as it helps close pores, which limits oil production. Oil, and the bacteria that can result when it clogs pores, is considered one of the causes of acne and blemishes. The tannins work in a similar way in controlling diarrhea. By tightening the lining of the intestines, the severity of diarrhea can sometimes be reduced.
For centuries, red raspberry leaf has been used as a fertility treatment. It is believed to help promote pregnancy by toning the lining of the uterus. This typically would allow for easier egg attachment. It may also interact in a positive way with vitamins such as B6, which is also used in fertility treatment.
Red raspberry leaf is generally considered an effective aid in childbirth, because it could make contractions more productive. Some non-clinical studies show that it could slightly reduce the time spent in labor, if only by a few minutes. Women who take the supplement while pregnant sometimes bleed less during labor and delivery. Many herbalists believe that because it may tone the uterus, red raspberry leaf might reduce the risk of miscarriage.
Some herbalists claim that red raspberry leaf may also help with bleeding gums, cold and flu symptoms, and frequent urination, however, these claims do not seem to be supported by any scientific evidence. The effect it has on bleeding gums could be a byproduct of the astringent action associated with the herb. In addition, any relief of cold or flu symptoms, such as sore throat and nasal passages, could also be related to astringent action.
Side effects associated with red raspberry leaf seem to be mild, with the primary concern involving its interaction with other medications. It is believed to accelerate the absorption of other drugs, which could lead to dangerous complications, especially when dealing with time-release medications. People on prescription drugs should probably check with their doctor before using red raspberry leaf.