Blackberry Leaf Tea for Diarrhea


When hubby asked me to go to the store and get him some Immodium, I started wracking my brain for a suitable herbal alternative. He was feeling pretty bad and needed quick relief, so whatever I came up with needed to be effective. I remembered that blackberry is a specific for this condition so off I went to pick some bright green, prickly leaves from the numerous bushes we have on our property.

I’ve read that all parts of the blackberry plant are good for intestinal troubles, but this was the first time I ever attempted to use it. My understanding is that the berries and/or their juice are best for constipation because of the fiber and moistening properties, while the leaf and root are best for diarrhea, due in large part to their astringency, with the root being the strongest in this regard. All parts of this plant have an affinity for the digestive tract and are especially healing to its tissues.

I’m noticing more and more that I am selecting medicinal herbs based on a combination of my reading of other herbalists along side a growing awareness of the plant’s particular personalities and a deeper intuitive understanding of their energetic properties as related to what’s going on in the body.

Here is what I was thinking as I prepared this medicine. When diarrhea occurs, the tissues are leaky and may be inflamed and irritated. Astringent herbs like blackberry tighten up the tissues. A rose family plant, blackberry is also cooling to inflamed tissues. I’m sure there are many other nutrients and active components working in synergy to produce its healing effect, but just this simple energetic framework was enough to help me be able to use it more confidently and intentionally.

If I had had blackberry root, I would have used that, since I wanted a strong, fast acting remedy. But no time to dig! Instead, I boiled the leaves I had gathered into a strong decoction. I took a sip myself and confirmed that it was indeed very astringent. I could feel the tissues in my mouth tighten and become drier on contact. There was no bitterness or sweetness, just a mild, green, astringent taste.

I felt hubby needed some mucilage to help heal the mucous lining of his stripped gut, so I threw in some dried linden leaf and flower (very mucilaginous and healing to the gut). I also added some dried yarrow to help deal with any creepy crawly bacteria that may be causing trouble, and to help clear some of the heat I saw flushing his face and neck (yarrow is great for addressing bacterial infections and fevers and for purifying the blood). I poured the boiling decoction over the linden and yarrow and let it steep for a few minutes before adding some honey. The yarrow added a bit of bitterness to the brew, also good for the gut.

“Here, drink this,” I said to hubby. ” I don’t care if you don’t like it. Just drink it. It is medicine.”

He did… and no more diarrhea since! Plus, I saved a trip to the store and the cost of Immodium, which would have just paralyzed his poor intestines and done nothing to heal them. I’ve been watching carefully to see if he needed a repeat dose, but so far, all is well. He feels great, no more heat in the face, and no more stomach cramping or diarrhea. Yay!

I’m picking more leaf to dry for winter use. I suspect the leaf tea may also be a good remedy for nausea and vomitting. This fall, when the energy of the plant has gone underground, I will dig a root and make some tincture. I believe the tincture will be even stronger and fast acting, and a little will go a long way.

Everybody needs a good diarrhea remedy in the cupboard. So far, I’m convinced this one can’t be beat.


10 Responses to “Blackberry Leaf Tea for Diarrhea”

  1. Sarah Head on 18 Aug 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I love the way you incorporate your thinking into your medicine making, Tammy – it’s really useful! Have you thought about making bramble root vinegar? Joyce Wardwell recommends it for tummy upsets and someone else on Henriette’s email list has said how effective it is for removing IBS pain. I made two vinegars earlier in the year, one with just bramble root and one with root and leaf. I’ve yet to try them, also I suffer terribly with nerves before I start lecturing or when I’m really overtired. I was just thinking that a vinegar is so much cheaper to make than a tincture and might be easier on the gut than alcohol.

  2. kateon 19 Aug 2008 at 7:44 am

    And blackberry vinegar is just divine!

    Thanks Tammy, that was a great post. I’d be interested to hear more about the leaf and nausea/vomiting when you get to that.

  3. tammy on 19 Aug 2008 at 9:56 am

    Kate, what part of blackberry do you make vinegar with? I would like to try that.

    I hadn’t heard of the bramble vinegar, Sarah. What is bramble? Sounds intriguing… I will Google it!

  4. Sasha on 21 Aug 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Great post! So good to have a first-hand account of using the blackberry
    leaves as opposed to the root. Sometimes there just ISN’T time to dig!
    I liked the linden and yarrow in there, too.. great idea.
    Thanks for your experiment!
    (; Sasha

  5. kate on 21 Aug 2008 at 9:21 pm

    I made blackberry berry vinegar. It’s one of my favourites.

    I think Sarah is in the UK (she has a great blog too!), so bramble would be blackberry.

  6. Sarah Head on 22 Aug 2008 at 9:51 am

    Yes, bramble shoots are what blackberries grow on! I’m doing a series of hedgerow articles for the Herb Society websites. I’ve written two on Elderflowers and one on dogrose so far. Thanks to Katrina (Dreamseeds), I now have “products” for every part of the bramble bush. I’ll be doing another one on hawthorn, once I’ve made my brandy from the berries.

    I’m also going to do a Hedgerow workshop for one of our local residential home for older adults. I thought it might be fun to take them down memory lane with dog rose petals and edlerflower salve to smell, talk about all the medicinal properties and see what they used to gather when they were children.

    If you would like to hear a wonderful song about bramble, google for Bellowhead and “Prickleeye Bush”. A friend of ours plays with this band and they are amazing!

  7. darcey blue on 27 Aug 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Yes, blackberry root tincture is fast acting and fabulous. So glad to hear the leaves worked so well for you. I dont have much in the way of blackberry around me, but harvested roots once upon a time in a california paradise while on vacation. Blackberry leaf as a tea makes a very pleasant drink/beverage tea, and with linden to moisten it up, delish!! yay for backyard remedies!!

  8. Donna on 29 Aug 2008 at 8:12 am

    Your writing got me moving to my blackberry patch. My leaf tincture is in the works and I am thinking about drying some of those blackberries and reconstituting them for a syrup this winter if needed. Donna in Connecticut

  9. Alchemille on 03 Oct 2008 at 2:18 pm

    I love blackberries…Every year, I’m looking forward to harvest the wild
    ones (himalayan blackberries) that thrive in our ares: they’re so sweet and
    juicy. I’ve made liqueur, infused honey, honegar, sorbet, jam…etc
    It is true that blackberrie leaves are a tasty, nourishing and effective
    medicine. I read in “Drink in the Wild” that it’s best to harvest the leaves
    when they start turning read (more antioxidants?) but I haven’t tried yet…
    I’m waiting for the leaves to change colors.
    I also read in another book (is is the City Herbal?) to use dried green
    berries for that purpose.
    Anyway, if you run out of blackberry leaves, strawberry leaves work
    fine too!

  10. tammy on 05 Oct 2008 at 8:06 am

    Wow, our leaves are just getting a tinge of red. I’ll have to get some of those too! thanks for the suggestion.

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