Friday, June 6, 2008

Raspberry

I know I know, two post in the same day! Crazyness. Anyway, its June now so its time for the newest Herb of the month. (May doesn't get on this time, if you must blame something blame Paris.) This month I have chosen Raspberry as my plant for a couple of reasons, one i saw one in Paris, two my own personal stunted little Raspberry is in full bloom and starting to show signs of berry-ing*. Mostly I must own though I am doing raspberry because I already have all the research for it and since I am in the midst of job hunting I didn't want to have to do a new plant! Its my blog I can do what I want :)

This is all taken from an intensive paper called a Monograph that I did for school in the fall of 2006. I took out all the overly technical sections and pared it down a bit. Let me know if you all think this is too technical, or if you have any questions about anything!

Rubus idaeus

Other common names: Raspberry, Raspbis, Hindberry, Bramble of Mount Ida, Brambleberry, framboises

Family: Rosaceae

Parts used: Leaves, berries.

Botanical description: Culpepper claims that raspberry, he calls it brambleberry, is “... is so wel known that it needeth no Description.”3 However, this doesn't truly seem sufficient. Raspberry is a shrubby plant with long bent over canes with leaves off the stems in threes. The leaves are ovate in shape with a serrate edge, green on top and silver underneath. The flowers are white with five petals, five sepals, and many stamens. The fruit is a red aggregate of drupelets. Each drupelet contains a single seed. The aggregate berry when picked leaves behind a white conical core. The stems become woody with age and display prickles in profusion.

Habitat: Raspberries grow most often in areas where the soil has been disturbed, such as forest clearings or fields. Native to Canada and North America, it grows from British Columbia down to New Mexico. Grows well in moist temperate regions, and will spread easily unless cut back. Raspberry is very beloved and is grown worldwide for its tangy little berries

Taste: Hot infusion of the leaf: Bitter, astringent, sweet, green, full and oily, cooling. Raspberry leaf tea is often said to taste a lot like black tea due to its high tannin content, and is said to be a good substitute if you are sensitive to caffeine. I think this is partly true, but the green oily taste that overlies the black tea taste is hard to ignore.

Berry: Sour and tangy, sweet, cooling and extremely tasty over vanilla ice cream

Energetic properties: Cooling, drying and soothing; strongly associated with female energy.

Doctrine of Signatures-(this section is taking the look of a plant and associting it with its properties to aid in memory) The arrangement of raspberry leaves off the stem is that of one large leaf representing the uterus flanked by two smaller leaves that represent the ovaries; this reminds us that raspberry leaves work on the womb. The undersides of raspberry leaves are silvery, giving us insight that the leaves also have a connection to the moon and therefore woman and the menstrual cycle.

Constituents: Flavonoids: Kaemperferol and Quercitin as well as many glycosides of both; tannins: including gallotannins and ellagitannins; fruit sugar: notably xylitol; volatile oil; pectin; citric acid; malic acid; calcium, magnesium, thiamine, niacin, carotenes and trace minerals. A few sources list an alkaloid called fragarine, but more recent research has not found this molecule. (Fragarine was thought to be the 'active' constituent of raspberry leaf, the one that cause uterine muscle tissues to strengthen, but it is now postulated that is a more complex reaction that isn't due to any one constituent, but a combination of many. This particular conclusion seems to be more and more excepted for most herbal medicines, as main constituents are usually found to not work, or have different actions when isolated.)

Actions: Berries: Nutritive, antioxidant and laxative Leaves: Nutritive, astringent, antioxidant, parturient, uterine tonic, and emmenagogue

Indications and effects: Traditional use of Rubus Idaeus has been to aid in childbirth. Raspberry leaf acts on the tone of the uterus, increasing the contractility of the uterine walls. 1,9,11 This action on the uterus makes for more useful contractions during labor, as well as helps the uterus return back to its normal shape and elasticity afterwards. 1,11 The mechanism for this action is unknown though it has been speculated to be due to the tannins. However, since tannins are largely unabsorbed into systemic flow this is still not completely understood. There is some postulation that it is a reflex action, since the tannins cause the lining of the intestines to contract it makes the body contract the lining of the uterus. More research needs to be done in this area.
Rich in vitamin C complex, thiamine, niacin, carotenes, calcium, magnesium and trace minerals, R. idaeus is nutritive and aids in the health of the fetus and mother, and also increases and enriches milk flow after birth.1 This same action on the uterus acts as an emmenagogue and can be used for restoring weak or absent menstrual cycles.
The tannins act as a parturient, toning the membranes in the gut by binding to proteins in the intestinal wall, its mild action is especially good for children with diarrhea. The tannins also contribute to healing canker sores in the mouth, bleeding gums and other mouth complaints mainly through astringent action. Both the fruits and leaves have antioxidant properties due to high flavonoid content, which can heal oxidative damage to blood vessels and other tissue. The fruit is a mild laxative if taken in high quantities. Judith Berger mentions its use as a black tea substitute for those trying to lower their caffeine intake due to its similar taste and high tannin content.1

Safety/Contraindications: No safety issues have been reported with the toxicity of the plant. However there is a slight worry taking too much in the first trimester of pregnancy which may cause ‘over toning’ of the uterus so that the placenta has a hard time detaching from the uterine wall. It is therefore recommended limiting the use of raspberry leaves to the second and third trimester.12 This advice comes with its own problems since raspberry is also used to counteract morning sickness. Th solution may reside in using it for morning sickness, but stopping use in the the second trimester and starting again in the third so that the over toning doesn't occur.

Classic formulas:

Raspberry Brandy

Pick fine dry fruit, put it into a stone jar, and the jar into a kettle of water, or on a hot hearth, till the juice will run; strain, and to every pint add 1/2 lb. of sugar, give one boil and skim it; when cold, put equal quantities of juice and brandy, shake well and bottle. Some people prefer it stronger of the brandy. -----(Old Cookery-Book.) (botanical.com)

Combinations: A good pairing for Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) leaves would be Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris) leaves. Both display emmenagogue affects, which frees the flow of blood form a stagnant or blocked uterus and can regulate mentrual cycles that are erratic.

Preparations and doses: Leaves are usually prepared in an infusion, 1 cup boiling water over 2 teaspoon of dried leaf and let steep for 10-15 minutes, or long cold infusion for 4-8 hours to extract more of the mineral nutrients. I 8 ounce cup 3 times a day for toning the uterus during last trimester of pregnancy. In tincture form 1 teaspoon 3 times a day.2 The berries are best as food source of flavonoids.

Works Cited

  1. Berger, Judith. Herbal Rituals. New York: St. Martins Griffin Press, 1998.
  1. Bone, Kerry A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs. Elsevier Science, 2003
  1. Culpepper, Nicolas Retrieved 10/09/06 <http://www.med.yale.edu/library/historical/culpeper/b.htm>
  1. Grieve, Maude Retrieved 10/08/06 <http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/r/raspbe05.html>
  1. Hoffmann, David FNIMH, AHG. Medical Herbalism: The Science and practice of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press, 2003
  1. Kress, Henriette “Rubus idaeus photo” Retrieved 10/08/06
  1. “Raspberry”, Retrieved 10/08/06 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raspberry>
  1. Moore, Michael “Rubus idaeus: distribution map”, Retrieved 10/08/06 <http://www.swsbm.com/Maps/Rubus_idaeus.gif >
  1. Tilgner, Sharol ND. Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth. Wise Acres Press, INC, 1999
  1. Yarnell, Eric ND, RH Phytochemistry and Pharmacy for Practitioners of Botanical Medicine. Healing Mountain Publishing, Inc., 2004
  1. Rosemary, Gladstar Family Herbal: a guide to Living Life with Energy, Health and Vitality Storey Books, North Adams, Massachusetts, 2001.
*I made that verb up, yes i realize I could say fruiting, but I wanted to be more specific.

1 comment:

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