Blackberries and raspberries are useful medicinal herbs that are found growing wild throughout the United States. Blackberry and raspberry bushes supply us with medicinal leaves, bark, roots, and berries. Both blackberry and raspberry plants are used for the same medicinal purposes.
Blackberries on Payne Mountain Farms - Photo by Janice Boling
Blackberry and raspberry leaves make an astringent tea (or wash), the roots (and bark) are made into decoctions, and all parts are used in tinctures and tonics. Blackberry leaves made a refreshing spritz. Just soak leaves in a mixture of witch hazel and water. Strain and put the liquid in a spray bottle. Use on face as needed to hydrate the skin and energize the body.
Blackberry leaf teas, tinctures, and tonics are good when used internally for sore throat, cough, fevers, mouth sores, indigestion, rheumatism, gum disease, gout, kidney problems, urinary problems, prostate problems, menstrual cramps, and diarrhea. Because of the astringent properties, blackberry and raspberry leaf tea stops diarrhea. Make a cup and sip throughout the day.
Use blackberry leaf tea externally for sores, bug bites, eczema, swelling, burns, scalds, wounds, anemia, hemorrhoids, and as skin toner. Teas may also be used as gargles and are especially effective for sore throats and laryngitis.
The berries are diuretic, laxative, and cleansing which makes them useful in the treatment of edema. Blackberries are a great source of nutrients including Vitamin C, Vitamin K, manganese, and dietary fiber. Of course, blackberries also make great pies, jellies, vinegars, and wines.
Blackberry vinegar is great for coughs due to colds and flu. Cover a quart of berries with apple cider vinegar and steep for a week in a cool, dark place. Check daily and gently push berries down into liquid to prevent mold (throw away the whole batch if mold appears). Strain and keep your blackberry vinegar in the refrigerator until needed. To use in the treatment of coughs and sore throats, mix with honey and other herbal expectorants like mullein.
Blackberry wine is an old time favorite and is easy to make. Crush fruit; measure and add 1 quart boiling water to each gallon of fruit; let stand 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Strain and add 2 lbs sugar to each gallon of liquid. Stir well. Pour mixture into fermenting jug with air lock. AIr should be able to get out but not get in. A rubber tube run into a jar of water works well. Seal container with beeswax. Wine should be ready in three months.
Blackberry bushes, native to eastern North America, are thorny brambles (and are kin to roses). New, first year canes will not bear fruit until the second year. Blackberries grow in meadows, clearings, fence rows, and along roadsides. They prefer moist, well-drained soil. Blackberries are perennials that spread by creeping suckers. In the North Georgia Mountains blackberries begin blooming in May or June. Blackberry winter occurs at this time when temperatures drop suddenly into the 50’s or 60’s. After highs in the 80’s and 90’s, everyone is freezing and putting on sweaters and jackets. Purchase wild blackberry bushes online at Tennessee Wholesale Nursery.
Blackberry leaves should be harvested and dried for winter use before fruit ripens. Blackberries begin to ripen in late June or early July and continue producing for several weeks. It takes about 3 quarts of berries to make a run (7 to 8 half-pints) of jelly.
* Diabetics should know that strong infusions (teas) made from blackberry leaves can lower blood sugar levels. Never use blackberries or raspberries that have been sprayed or exposed to traffic exhaust fumes. Blackberry and raspberry leaves are a strong stimulant and can bring about uterine contractions – never drink blackberry or raspberry leaf tea when pregnant. (Raspberry leaf tea may be safely used during labor as a uterine tonic.) Blackberry and raspberry leaf tea may cause nausea in some rare cases. If so, discontinue use. Always consult with your healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications.
"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... Janice Boling, herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer
* Note - the information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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