A blog post about how to use helpful herbs to relieve your menstrual pain and PMS naturally.
This is a love letter to red raspberry leaf tea. I’m writing from Montreal where summer is turning to fall and I can begin to feel the first chill of winter sneaking up under my skin. Along with cat cuddles, warm sweaters, and cozy knitted socks, I have red raspberry leaf tea to comfort me and keep me warm.
I used to suffer through PMS and horrible menstrual cramps. Doctors weren’t able to tell or give me anything that stopped my monthly period pain. While pain-killers numbed it to the point where I could go on with my day-to-day activities, I could still feel my uterus waging war against itself.
What I didn’t know, and what doctors didn’t tell me, was that nature itself is a support system for my uterus. Red raspberry tea works by balancing hormones, strengthening your immune system, and slowing down blood flow when you’re menstruating.
Benefits of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
There are many things I love about tea: tea warms from the inside out; it wants to be sipped slowly; the process of drinking tea inspires attention, a slowing down, a mini-meditation in a world that often feels like it’s spinning too fast out of control.
There are many physical benefits to drinking red raspberry leaf tea: it contains a wonderful alkaloid, fragarine, which reduces cramps by both relaxing and toning the uterus.
Red raspberry leaves are also high in potassium, iron, and b-vitamins which help to reduce cramping and nausea and keep your energy up.
They’re also high in Vitamin C, which is great for supporting your immune system, and magnesium, a very important mineral many of us are lacking. Not getting enough sleep, being constantly on the run, and stress all contribute to magnesium deficiencies which in turn contribute to cramps and PMS.
When my uterus wants to contract in on itself because of stress, because of terrifying world events, because of the million and one reasons it’s hard to be a sensitive, deeply-feeling person in the world right now, red raspberry leaf holds me from the inside out like a wise and magical grandmother as old as the Earth itself.
Where To Get Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
I drink red raspberry leaf tea weekly, sometimes daily. It’s one of the many ways I’ve helped my body heal from persistent monthly period cramps.
There are many ways to get your hands on a cup of red raspberry leaf tea. The easiest and most convenient way is of course to buy it already made. Make sure that you’re buying red raspberry leaf tea, and not just red raspberry tea. When it comes to brands, my personal preference is Traditional Medicinals. It’s often carried in local health food stores, but you can also find it on Amazon for less than $5.
How to make your own cup of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
If you’re more of a DIY kind of person, it’s fun to harvest and make red raspberry leaf tea yourself. It’s best to harvest red raspberry leaves during spring mid-mornings, after the dew has evaporated and before the sun’s heat robs the leaves of flavour and moisture.
- Choose small, young, and healthy leaves that are shaded by older, larger leaves. Red raspberry plants have thorns, so it’s a good idea to wear gloves and long sleeves to protect yourself.
- Wash your leaves well. A good technique is to soak everything for five minutes in tepid water with one teaspoon vinegar and one tablespoon of salt. Pat or spin dry using a salad spinner.
- Once the leaves have been washed, there are many ways to dry them. My personal favourite is to lay them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven on the lowest possible setting for about fifteen minutes. Keep the oven door slightly open and check regularly on your leaves to make sure they’re not burning.
- You’ll know your leaves are done when they’re curled-up in on themselves, crisp, and crumble easily. If you have more time, you can also gather the leaves by their stems and hang them to dry. This process takes about 1-2 weeks.
Store your dry leaves in a glass jar away from direct sunlight. When you’re ready to brew your tea, use one tablespoon of crushed leaves per (approximately) 230 ml cup of boiling water. Steep for five to 10 minutes, and enjoy!
Tea and self-care to support your menstrual cycle
I like to think about the menstrual cycle like the four seasons I experience here in Eastern Canada. Fall is the pre-menstrual or luteal phase; the dark of winter is my bleed; the swelling of egg follicles during the follicular phase parallels the springtime swelling of flower buds on trees, and ovulation is ripe, hot, and like summer this year in Montreal, much too short. If I have the four seasons of nature’s cycle here in my body, it makes sense to me, in a poetic, magical way, that nature’s herbs hold and support me as I change, move, grow, and heal. As fall turns to winter, you’ll find me cozying up with a cup of red raspberry leaf tea, listening as it whispers its magic and its medicine.
If you are interested in learning more about red raspberry leaf tea and different herbal teas for menstruation, you can get my 10-page, by-donation Herbs for Menstruation e-book here.
This is an e-book that is based on a herbs for menstruation workshop I offered this summer in Montreal. It contains information on the four phases of the menstrual cycle, different herbal teas to support each phase, and a couple journal prompts to help you get to know your cycle. Once you make a donation here, you’ll be prompted to provide me with your email address, and then the e-book will be immediately delivered to your inbox.
To be kept up to date on my workshops, menstruation magic, and uterine musings, you can check out my website, follow me on Instagram, and sign up for my e-newsletter.
Malaika is a writer and menstruation educator. She blogs about menstruation, feminism, queerness, and nature on her website and Instagram and runs workshops online and off to help folks connect to, and heal their relationships with their periods.
Disclaimer: We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using any herbs if you are on any medications, pregnant, or breastfeeding.
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