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LOCAL HERBS AND HOW TO USE THEM - Raspberry, Rubus idaeus Used as a flavoring for many delicious jams, jellies, fruit juices and yogurts, raspberries are a traditional favorite household remedy. The berries are taken for indigestion and rheumatism. They are rich in minerals and highly nutritious. A vinegar, made from the fruit juice and white wine vinegar with sugar added, is used for a cooling drink for fever. Raspberry vinegar is also used as a gargle for sore throats. Raspberry syrup dissolves tartar of the teeth. But that is just half of it! Raspberry leaves are used medicinally as well. They are a rich source of vitamin C and contain manganese, iron and niacin. Taken during late pregnancy and childbirth, the leaves are a uterine tonic. During the first trimester of pregnancy, do not use more than two cups in any single day, or more than twice in any given week. Let your doctor know you are using raspberry leaves. Raspberry leaf can help to relieve menstrual cramps. While relaxing the uterus itself, it stimulates supporting muscles to allow for easier menstrual flow. Raspberry leaf is traditionally used for bed wetting because it tones pelvic muscles. It is useful for diarrhea, wounds and sore throats because of its astringency. In France, Raspberry leaf tea is regarded as a tonic for the prostate gland. Harvest the leaves in summer before the fruit ripens. The leaves are usually available at our local natural food stores in bulk, or as a tea. When planting raspberries, place suckers of new shoots about 2 feet apart in rows, with 6 to 10 feet between rows, in good loam soil. It must be slightly acid, with a pH of 6 to 6.5 as the ideal. They need plenty of air to produce fine fruit. Mulch plantings to discourage weeds and keep soil moist, using a wood based mulch. I find that constant watering with a soaker hose throughout bloom and fruiting produces abundant fruit if rain is not abundant. To make Raspberry Tea: Used to ease childbirth, take one cup daily in the last six to eight weeks of pregnancy, and drink plenty of warm tea during labor. During labor, add rose petals to your tea. Raspberry leaf tea can be used for mild diarrhea or as a gargle for mouth ulcers and sore throats. The tea is used for washing wounds, and applied to varicose ulcers and sores. It also makes a soothing eyewash. Use 2 cups of water, just off the boil, to 1 oz. of dried leaves, 2 oz. of fresh leaves. Pour hot water over the herb in a tea pot. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes, then strain and drink warm. Store the rest in a pitcher in a cool place. To make Raspberry Vinegar: Steep one pound of Raspberries in one quart of white vinegar for two weeks, then strain. Use as a cough mixture or gargle for sore throats. Its pleasant flavor can be used to disguise the flavor of other herbal remedies. When sugar or honey is added, it makes an excellent cooling drink in summer. Sources: The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, DK Books, 1993 A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M Grieve, Dover Publications, 1981 Western Garden Book, Sunset, 2001 Prescription for Herbal Healing, Phyllis Balch, Avery, 2002 Disclaimer: Herbal medicine and teas, as a method of healing, are not recognized in the USA. Lynn Wallingford makes no health claims. Any herbal or tea information is not intended to treat, diagnose, or prescribe in any way, and is for informational purposes only. She does not take responsibility for your experience using them. She trusts that you will consult a licensed healthcare professional when appropriate, especially pregnant women, nursing mothers, anyone over 60 years of age, anyone under 12 years of age, or anyone with a serious medical condition.