Is Raspberry Leaf Safe During Pregnancy?

red-raspberry-leaf-and-pregnancy

So, have you ever wondered why red raspberry leaf is in our prenatal vitamins?

Or have you been searching for a prenatal vitamin (or even a daily multivitamin), but want to know more about red raspberry leaf before choosing our Optimal Prenatal?

Consider the following information when making your decision...

Dr. Lynch designed the Optimal Prenatal vitamin line as part of a complete nutrition solution for expectant mothers.* It contains amino acids, chelated minerals, and coenzyme forms of B vitamins along with other nutrients, including red raspberry leaf.

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And the reason for red raspberry leaf?

Red raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus) has been used for centuries as a tonic to support healthy pregnancies, specifically as it relates to labor and delivery.* But it has not been without some controversy.

Starting in the mid-20th century, some animal studies using extracts and concentrates of red raspberry leaves or their individual constituents linked these ingredients to uterine contractions during early pregnancy.

These studies differed from the traditional use of the herb in a couple of very meaningful ways, however:

  • First, the studies used extracts or isolated components in red raspberry leaves, rather than the whole herb.
  • Next, the methods of administering the herbal ingredient were direct application or injection, rather than taking it by mouth.
  • And finally, the studies were done with relatively large doses of the herb, compared to the small body weight of the animals used as test subjects.

Besides red raspberry leaf being taken by countless women for centuries with cumulative anecdotal evidence, there are also studies to support its reported benefits...

In fact, studies in humans suggest that the use of red raspberry leaf during pregnancy is very likely safe when used under the supervision of a healthcare provider.* [i]

The first study was a retrospective observational study which did not identify any side effects from taking raspberry leaf. It indicated that the herb may support a healthy gestation period.

It also indicated that women who used red raspberry leaf might be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes or require a cesarean section, forceps or vacuum birth than the women in the control group, who did not use it.*[i]

In a subsequent, double-blind, randomized study; red raspberry leaf contributed to a shorter second stage of actual labor, along with a lower rate of forceps deliveries.*[ii] The women in this study were given 2.4 grams of red raspberry leaf in tablet form each day without negative effects.

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According to a small survey of ninety nurse-midwives, who used herbal preparations to stimulate labor, 64% used blue cohosh, 45% used black cohosh, 63% used red raspberry leaf, 93% used castor oil, and 60% used evening primrose oil. Another 82 reported that they did not use herbal preparations to stimulate labor. [iii]

The most cited reason for using herbal preparations to stimulate labor was that they are "natural," whereas the most common reason for not using herbal preparations was the lack of research or experience with the safety of these substances. [iii]

Red raspberry leaf continues to be used by women today to support a healthy uterus and effective contractions during normal labor. This does not imply that red raspberry leaf causes premature contractions, but rather that it may support healthy and efficient contractions of the uterus during normal childbirth.*

The use of red raspberry leaf as a natural support for healthy pregnancy is not going to be recommended by all physicians and resources.*

It is likely, however, that many midwives and/or naturopathic physicians will be aware of it and some may recommend it; however, it is up to you to talk with your practitioner and labor team and take ownership of your health.

Factors to consider when making a nutrient or product decision:

  • History. It is likely a nutrient is safe, if it has time on its side. Should studies suddenly claim differently, consider the design and preparation of the experiment.
  • Purity. As with any nutrient, purity is a key factor in the efficacy of herbs. That’s why it’s important to choose supplements carefully to avoid herbal preparations that have been contaminated.
  • Doctor’s recommendation. Despite the safety track record of a nutrient, you should always talk to your doctor and healthcare team, first, and develop a personalized nutrition and supplementation plan that meets your body’s specific needs.

It is worth noting that unlike drugs, natural preparations, such as herbal supplements, are not evaluated or approved by the FDA.

While the studies above do not indicate a safety concern with using red raspberry leaf during pregnancy, it is important to use it (and any dietary supplement) under the supervision of your healthcare professional, doctor and labor team.

Talk to your healthcare team about supplementing with our Optimal Prenatal Line!

 

Shop Optimal Prenatal

 

If you or your doctor would prefer not to include red raspberry leaf in your prenatal regimen, consider the Optimal Prenatal Chewable, the newest member of the Optimal Prenatal Product Line – it is formulated without this herbal ingredient.

Be informed. Be empowered.

Take the steps necessary to optimize the health of you and your baby.

 

Sources:

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[i] Aust Coll Midwives Inc J. 1999 Sep;12(3):20-5.

[ii] J Midwifery Womens Health. 2001 Mar-Apr;46(2):51-9.

[iii] J Nurse Midwifery. 1999 May-Jun;44(3):205-16.

 

Topics: Prenatal, Nutrition, Supplementation, Optimal Prenatal, Red Raspberry Leaf

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