Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients

Raspberry Leaf in Pregnancy – Shorts

Raspberry Leaf in Pregnancy – Shorts – Brief Article

Jule Klotter

Raspberry leaf, taken as an infusion (tea), has been a longtime herbal remedy for maternity care. According to Michael Tierra, CA, ND in his book The Way of Herbs, raspberry leaf is taken throughout pregnancy to tone the uterus, facilitate delivery, and prevent miscarriage. According to an article in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health by Michele Simpson and colleagues, however, conventional medical opinion believes that raspberry leaf can actually cause miscarriage or premature labor. They say that this belief is based upon a 1970 study in which injections of raspberry leaf extract caused contractions in strips of human uteri between 10 and 16 weeks of pregnancy.

To test the herb’s safety and its effectiveness in shortening labor, this Australian team of certified nurse-midwives ran a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial involving 192 low-risk, women with no previous offspring. Women either received tablets containing 1.2g (400 mg of 3:1 extract) of raspberry leaf extract or placebo tablets. The tablets were taken twice a day, from 32 weeks’ gestation until labor. Although the researchers did not notice any shortening in the length of the first stage of labor among the women taking the raspberry leaf tablets, they did report that the second stage (the period between full dilatation of the cervix and birth) was an average of 9.6 minutes shorter. In addition, the raspberry leaf group had a 19.3% incidence of forceps deliveries compared to a 30.4% rate in the control group. Raspberry leaf caused no adverse effects in mother or baby, nor did it promote pre-term labor.

The authors chose to use tablets, instead of the traditional tea infusions which may have a different effect, because the dosage was more accurate. They concluded discussion of their study with “The question now remains whether a higher dosage or commencement of the tablets at an earlier gestational age would contribute to a more clinically significant outcome.”

“Raspberry Leaf in Pregnancy: Its Safety and Efficacy in Labor” by Michele Simpson, CNM, Myra Parson, CNM, Jennifer Greenwood, CNM, and Kenneth wade, PhD. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, vol. 46, No. 2, March/April 2001.

COPYRIGHT 2002 The Townsend Letter Group

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group