Raspberry leaves are one of the darlings of herbal remedies. Yet, you rarely hear about the benefits of blackberry leaves. Just like its cousin, the raspberry, blackberry leaves are full of flavonoids, vitamins, and antioxidants. In addition, it aids in the relief of skin rashes, diarrhea, sore throats and more. Blackberry leaves should claim a spot in your herbal medicine cabinet right along side of all your other beloved herbal teas. See why and read on.
How I Discovered Blackberry Leaf Goodness
I was quite excited to hear about the medicinal benefits of blackberry leaves since they grow out of control in my garden. I don’t hesitate to take their leaves since left unattended they would just grow into a bramble mess.
I started with 2 thornless blackberry plants. At one point I completely neglected them and they became that bramble mess that I spoke about above. Their long stems arched forward and started to root in the ground. The bramble mess was about 4 feet deep.
I decided to move them to a spot that I would have to watch them. I moved 6 plants (2 old and 4 new.) Little did I know that if you don’t dig out the roots completely you will be blessed with baby blackberries in that same spot for years to come. I have sold many of my “extra blackberry” plants as well as harvested their leaves.
Blackberry plants need to be top pruned so they don’t grow into that bramble mess. So, I was left these long beautiful blackberry leaf strands. The leaves looked at me and I looked at them. And then they whispered to me, “Are you crazy? Take us. We can help you in so many ways.”
(Nah. Just pulling your leg. But they did look so enticing.)
After writing this article, I discovered the roots are pretty darn impressive as well. So my blackberry plant selling days might be over and I will be harvesting the roots!
Currently, I have about 10 to 15 blackberry plants. I lost count. So I have lots of leaves to harvest.
History of Blackberry Use
As I researched the benefits of using blackberry leaves, it fascinates me to learn about how the plant parts were used years ago. Did you know that the Greek physicians prescribed blackberries for gout?
Folk medicine used various parts of the plants to cure a variety of aliments such as dysentery, diarrhea, whooping cough, colitis, labor pains, and toothaches.
The use of the blackberry plant in folk medicine is not surprising since blackberries are noted for high nutritional content of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. The roots contain saponins and tannins whereas the leaves contain tannins, flavonoids and fruit acids.
Blackberry Leaves and Flavonoids:
Blackberry and raspberry leaves contain a notable amount of flavonoid compounds. According to a 2004 study from the Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Medical University of Bialystok in Poland, these leaves contain derivatives of kaempferol and quercetin, phenolic acids, triterpenes, mineral salts and vitamin C.
Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants. They have anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits.
The best-known flavonoids are quercetin and kaempferol which blackberry leaves contain. Due to their anti-inflammatory and immune boosting benefits, blackberry leaves are used to aid in healing sore throats, mouth sores, anti-aging, diarrhea, wounds and hemorrhoids.
Sore Throat and Mouth Sores:
I had no idea about blackberry leaf health benefits until I started researching remedies for sore throats. Two of my boys were complaining of “that throat that hurts before you get a full blown cold.” I had them gargle with the blackberry tea leaves.
The Natural Healing Guide suggested this recipe for colds and the flu.
1 oz. blackberry leaves (You can buy it Here.)
1 oz. of elder flowers
1 oz. of linden flowers
1 oz. of peppermint leaves
Blackberry leaves could play an important role in aging. According to a 2007 study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, blackberry leaf extract suppresses certain matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) which cause wrinkles. In addition, the researchers noted that the leaf contained an antioxidant comparable to vitamin E.
I know. Diarrhea isn’t one of those subject you talk about. Blackberry leaves are touted to help with this aliment. The leaves contain astringent tannins which help controls diarrhea. According to Micheal Castleman, author of The New Healing Herbs: The Essential Guide to More Than 125 of Nature’s Most Potentate Remedies, Commission E, the German counterpart for the FDA, endorses blackberry leaves for the treatment of diarrhea.
In addition the University of Maryland Medical Center states that astringent herbs such as blackberry or raspberry leaf helps in reducing diarrhea. However, they urge that you check with your medical practitioner first before using this herbal remedy. Diarrhea may be caused by another infection which can worsen from using an herbal remedy.
Castleman suggests in his book that the astringent property of blackberry leaves aids in reducing hemorrhoids. He recommends soaking a cloth in a tincture or decoction of blackberry leaves and applying externally.
“To treat inflamed or oozing rashes, make a decoction by gently boiling the blackberry leaves. Soak a cotton cloth in the liquid. Wring out the cloth and place it on the affected area; cover with plastic wrap. Leave on for 30 min. Repeat several times a day.”
How to Use Blackberry Leaves:
Castleman suggests using a tincture, decoction or infusion of blackberry leaves to treat both sore throat, mouth, and diarrhea.
For a tincture, he suggests 1 teaspoon twice a day. For an infusion, 2 to 3 teaspoons of dried blackberry leaves per one cup of boiling water. Let it sit for 20 minutes. Drink an infusion 3 times a day.
For a decoction, use a teaspoon of dried blackberry root in a cup of boiling water. Let it sit for 20 minutes. Drink one cup a day.
The Tannin Controversy:
As I mentioned above, Blackberry leaves contain tannins. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that tannins have been under fire.
Two studies revealed that tannins could cause cancer. Tannins are in such foods as red wine, teas, sorghum, and alcohol stored in oak barrels. Cheap red wine is high in tannins due since they are made of pressings high in skin and seed content. (Note, herbal teas are really tisanes and not to be confused with green, black, and oblong tea.)
A 1975 study published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute revealed that tannins from a bracken fern are carcinogenic. The study was conducted to isolate chemicals in the bracken fern that caused among other issues urinary bladder cancer in cattle and targeted organs of several species.
A 1976 study found that tannins from certain plants caused tumors at the injection site of 66% of the rats in the experiment.
Conversely, a 2013 Clemson University study published in the International Journal of Breast Cancer found that tannic acid “has the potential to become an anti-ER+ breast cancer treatment or preventative agent.”
So should you avoid tannins? Julia Morton, an economic botanist and then the director of the Morton Collectanea at the University of Miami, was interviewed by the Ocala Star Banner in 1987 about the toxicity of tannins in red wines and teas.
She studied the effects of tannin in red wine, teas, sorghum, and alcohol for over twenty years. She indicated that the British have a lower incident of esophageal cancer due to adding milk to their tea. Milk binds the tannins and rendered them insoluble.
Conversely, the Japanese, who are avid tea drinkers, have a higher incidence of this type of cancer. She recommends either using milk in your tea or shaved ice in your ice drinks, which may help reduce the tannins.
Morton suggests like any food or drink, everything in moderation.
Castleman suggests if you have a history of stomach or colon cancer, you should avoid using blackberry leaves.
In addition, the ingestion of too many tannins can cause stomach upset. He also recommends adding milk to your tea which neutralizes the tannins.
Pregnant, nursing women and children under 2 should not use blackberry leaves. With all herbal remedies and teas, check with your medical doctor or holistic practitioner before use–especially when administrating an herbal remedy to children.
Want to try some blackberry leaves from my garden? Order HERE. Unfortunately, I am only shipping to the US.
Disclaimer: The information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a physician if you are pregnant or nursing.
Join the Conversation:
Do you use blackberry leaves or roots to aid in healing an aliment? Or do you just drink the tea for enjoyment?