Blackberry leaf doesn't often get much attention as a medicinal herb, but it has a range of benefits and nutrients that deserve recognition. Add to this a lovely berry-like flavor and you have an herb that is both tasty and powerful.
Here's more on the story behind blackberry leaves and why you may want to start using them along with the berries.
All About Blackberry Leaf
Not surprisingly, blackberry leaf comes from the blackberry plant (Rubus spp.). These usually prickly plants are perennials and grow as brambles that can form a dense thicket if left unattended.
Though several species of this plant have grown in the wild for centuries, the cultivated varieties are the ones that produce the familiar large, black berries. Not only have these delicious fruits been enjoyed for an untold number of years, the leaves have also been used as a medicinal and nutritious herb for at least 2000 years.
In fact, the entire blackberry plant has long been valued for its health-boosting properties.
The berries are highly nutritious, and juice from them was at one time used as a colic recipe. The roots have been used to make a tea for labor pain and to treat dysentery, while the leaves were once chewed for toothache. Both the leaves and the roots are a traditional remedy for diarrhea. (1)
Perhaps the only part of the blackberry plant not commonly used is the flowers.
If you have any blackberry brambles growing in your yard, the leaves can be collected in spring and early summer. However, collect sparingly if you want your plants to bloom and produce fruit.
You can also use dried blackberry leaf to make tea and other herbal remedies.
Top Benefits of Blackberry Leaf
Packed with Nutrients
Blackberry leaves are rich in specific nutrients, including vitamin C, calcium, vitamin K, magnesium, and iron. They also contain powerful plant compounds like tannins and antioxidant flavonoids. (1)(2)
Tannins are a specific group of bitter compounds that have astringent properties. This means they help to tone and contract tissues, which contributes to some blackberry leaf benefits we'll discuss later on.
Antioxidants in general are essential for healthy aging and overall well-being, particularly by combating free radical damage that contributes to inflammation and disease. In fact, consuming flavonoids (which are found in blackberry leaves) is linked to a reduced risk of numerous chronic diseases, including cancer. (3)
Two specific antioxidants found in blackberry leaves are quercetin and kaempferol, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties. (2)
Eases Diarrhea & Aids Digestion
One of the most well-known benefits of blackberry leaf is its ability to help ease diarrhea. This is due to the astringent nature of the leaves, which comes from the presence of tannins.
Essentially, the astringency of the leaves works to tone tissues in the digestive tract, helping with normal stool formation. Anti-inflammatory compounds also help to calm digestion.
Blackberry leaf is even listed by the German Commission E (a body similar to the FDA) for diarrhea at a dose of 4.5 grams a day. Of course, if diarrhea is more than occasional, you should see a qualified physician. (4)
You can also use blackberry leaf to make a tea that acts as a general digestive tonic, since the bitter compounds in the plant aid overall digestion and calm irritation.
Perhaps another reason blackberry leaf is so beneficial for your digestion is because it has antimicrobial properties. More specifically, compounds from the leaves have shown activity against strains of Helicobacter pylori, which is a bacteria that can cause stomach infections. (5)
Blackberry leaves have also been used as a poultice or skin wash. This is due to their astringent nature, which helps to tone and tighten skin, but also to the antimicrobial activity of compounds in the leaves.
Interestingly, one study found that blackberry leaf extract had activity against Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that can cause skin infections. This could explain some of its topical benefits for skincare. (6)
Sore Throat & Gum Relief
The anti-inflammatory and astringent compounds within blackberry leaf give it benefits for soothing mild forms of inflammation like a sore throat or sore gums.
To use it when you may be feeling under the weather, simply make a strong herbal infusion with the leaves and drink as needed throughout the day. You may want to add a little honey or another herb like peppermint for extra soothing power.
For sore or inflamed gums, blackberry leaves have been used as a mouthwash and sometimes simply chewed for relief. Again, if you are dealing with a serious gum issue, be sure to get medical help as needed to resolve the problem.
Beneficial for Female Health
When it comes to herbs that support a woman's body, red raspberry leaf normally shows up at the top of the list and gets most of the spotlight.
However, blackberry leaves contain many similar compounds and nutrients, which is not surprising since the two plants are very closely related. Perhaps most importantly, they have easily assimilated nutrients that support women through all life stages, especially during menstruation and pregnancy.
To enjoy the benefits of blackberry leaf, use it alone or in combination with red raspberry leaf to make a nourishing tea.
How to Use Blackberry Leaves
Blackberry leaf can be taken in the form of a tincture, syrup, or powder, but it's most often consumed as a delicious tea.
To make blackberry leaf tea:
- Put 1-3 teaspoons of dried blackberry leaves (or 1-2 tablespoons fresh leaves) in a heatproof mug or glass jar.
- Pour 8-10 ounces of just boiled water over the leaves.
- Cover and steep for at least 10-15 minutes or 4-8 hours for a stronger infusion.
- Strain out the leaves, sweeten if desired, and enjoy!
Blackberry leaves give a slightly bitter and astringent flavor to tea, so experiment with the steeping time to find how long you prefer. The longer you steep, the more bitter and astringent your tea will become.
You can also add herbs like peppermint, rose petals, or linden flower in with the blackberry leaves to change up the flavor.
Or try a premade herbal tea like this Blackberry Fruit Tea.
There aren't really any precautions when it comes to blackberry leaf, although you should consult with a qualified herbalist before taking it if you are pregnant, nursing, or have a medical condition.
Enjoying Blackberry Leaves
One of the most beautiful parts about herbalism is that it allows us to enjoy and use entire plants instead of just one part. This is the case with blackberry leaves, which can be just as beneficial as the berries.
Enjoy the benefits of blackberry leaf for digestion, a sore throat, and overall wellness and discover why this underrated herb has seen many centuries of use!
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and should not be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your health care provider, herbalist, midwife, or naturopathic physician before taking herbs, supplements, etc. Here's the link to our full disclaimer.