The wonders of Red Raspberry for fertility

By PENDA HONEYGHAN

Monday, October 30, 2017

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TRADITIONALLY used as a uterine tonic during pregnancy as well as in preparation for labour, Red Raspberry (Rubus Ideaus), and its leaf, in particular, has also been touted for its fertility-boosting properties. And while obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Anna-Kay Taylor Christmas said there is no scientific evidence to support this claim, she says many people globally, even some midwives, swear by it.

“Red Raspberry, in the form of the berries, leaves or extracts, is a common herbal supplement promoted in online fertility communities and also by some midwives. It is purported to aid in boosting fertility for men and women, as well as helping improve the speed and pain during labour. However, whether these claims have actually been proven is uncertain,” Dr Taylor Christmas said.

Chinese herbalists claim that the benefits of the raspberry fruit and its leaves in enhancing the possibility of conception and supporting the mother during pregnancy and afterwards include, but are not limited to, strengthening the uterus in preparation for pregnancy and labour, aiding in recovery during the post-partum period, supporting healthy breast milk production in lactating mothers, regulating the menstrual cycle by balancing blood flow to reproductive organs, thus improving your chances of getting pregnant, and inhibiting the development of obesity and diabetes which reduces the risk of infertility caused by symptoms of diabetes and obesity.

Studies have been done mainly in mice and have found varying results. Some show a good effect on uterine contractions in pregnancy, potentially working well with the natural hormone oxytocin to shorten labour. Other studies, however, show a possible negative effect in the children after birth.

Dr Taylor Christmas pointed out that what is true is that red raspberries are rich in a number of vitamins including vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, vitamin E, iron, potassium, and manganese, as well as numerous antioxidants, and contain in lesser amounts thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and copper, which can indeed contribute to various aspects of fertility for both men and women.

“The high vitamin C and magnesium, which are important for testosterone and sperm production, are thought to be boosters for male fertility. The high antioxidant levels are also potentially protective to sperm from oxidative stress that may damage and decrease the functionality of sperm,” Dr Taylor Christmas explained.

In the case of pregnant women, she says that antioxidants are also thought to decrease the risk of miscarriage after pregnancy.

The folate contained in raspberries is one of the components which is found to nourish the foetus as it develops, especially in the earlier stages of pregnancy. In addition, Dr Taylor Christmas said that this essential nutrient is also protective against neural tube (spinal) and other developmental defects.

She said that another essential quality of raspberries is their high fibre content with a low glycaemic index, meaning the sugar is absorbed slowly after eating, an essential tool in weight management.

“This means that it contributes to curbing hunger and maintaining a healthy weight. Since obesity has been found to have a significant negative impact on fertility in men and women, raspberries are a healthy snack that can form part of a balanced diet to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.”

Dr Taylor Christmas says that while the claims purported may seem attractive, the fact that there is little evidence to say definitively that consuming red raspberries will improve fertility, compounded by some evidence (in mice) that it may have negative effects on the baby in high concentrations, should be enough to discourage consuming raspberries or the tea often.

“It cannot be recommended as a routine supplement to boost fertility or during pregnancy. It can, however, be used as part of a healthy diet, which is definitely a natural boost to fertility,” Dr Taylor Christmas advised.

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