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Medicinal Herb: Rue (Ruta graveolens)

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Rue is an aromatic perennial plant native to southern Europe and northern Africa and commonly cultivated in Europe and the U.S., sometimes escaping to grow wild locally. The branched, pale green, glabrous stem bears alternate, pinnately decompound, somewhat fleshy leaves with oblong to spatulate leaflets. Small yellow or yellow-green flowers appear from June to August.

The stem is woody in the lower part, the leaves are alternate, bluish-green, bi- or tripinnate, emit a powerful, disagreeable odour and have an exceedingly bitter, acrid and nauseous taste. The greenish-yellow flowers are in terminal panicles, blossoming from June to September. In England Rue is one of our oldest garden plants, cultivated for its use medicinally, having, together with other herbs, been introduced by the Romans, but it is not found in a wild state except rarely on the hills of Lancashire and Yorkshire. This wild form is even more vehement in smell than the garden Rue. The whole plant has a disagreeable and powerful odour. The first flower that opens has usually ten stamens, the others eight only.




Biological Name:
Ruta graveolens


Other Names:
Rue, Common rue, garden rue, German rue, herb-of-grace, countryman's treacle, herbygrass
Aruta, Garden Rue, Somalata, Sadab

This is a herb that had been used from time immemorial. It was used by the priests in ancient times. It was a well known herb in Christ's time. Rue is like hyssop as a fine remedy for the "many ills of humanity" according to Jethro Kloss. It is believed to relieve congestion of the uterus, leading a very stimulating and tonic effect. Excellent for suppressed menstruation.

Parts Used:
The herb

Active Compounds:
Volatile oil, 2-undecanone (50-90%), 2-haptanol, 2-nonanol, 2-nonanone, limonene, pinene, anisic acid, phenol, guiacol and others
Flavonoids such as quercitin and rutin
Coumarins: bergapten, daphnoretin, isoimperatorin, naphthoherniarin, psoralen, pangelin, rutamarin, rutarin, scopoletin and umbelliferone
Alkaloids: arborinine, g-fagarine, graveoline, graveolinine, kokusaginine, rutacridine.
Lignans, in the root; savinin and helioxanthin.

Traditionsl Applications in Herbal Medicine:
Abortificient, anthelmintic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, ernmenagogue, irritant, stimulant, stomachic

It is an effective medicine in the treatment of coughs, croup, colic and flatulence. The oil may be given on sugar, or in hot water.

Externally, Rue is an active irritant, being employed as a rubefacient. If bruised and applied, the leaves will ease the severe pain of sciatica. The expressed juice, in small quantities, was a noted remedy for nervous nightmare, and the fresh leaves applied to the temples are said to relieve headache. Compresses saturated with a strong decoction of the plant, when applied to the chest, have been used beneficially for chronic bronchitis.

If a leaf or two be chewed, a refreshing aromatic flavour will pervade the mouth and any nervous headache, giddiness, hysterical spasm, or palpitation will be quickly relieved.

The main uses for rue are to relieve gouty and rheumatic pains and to treat nervous heart problems, such as palpitations In women going through menopause. The infusion is also said to be useful in eliminating worms.

In European folk medicine, rue serves to relieve gas pains and colic, improve appetite and digestion, and promote the onset of menstruation. Rue can also be made into an ointment for external use against gout, rheumatism, and sciatica.

Jethro Kloss recommends the herb for painful menstruation, stomach trouble, cramps in the bowels, nervousness, hysteria, spasms, convulsions, pain in the head, confusion, dizziness, colic and convulsions in children, sciatica, pain in the joints and gout. It is also believed to resist poison.

The herb, on distillation, yields a volatile oil that has many medicinal applications. The internal administration of the oil causes abortion in pregnant women.

Combinations : For use in the regulation of periods it will combine well with False Unicorn Root and Life Root.

Fresh leaf juice mixed with brandy is useful for paralysis.

Infusion: Steep 1 tsp. dried herb in 1/2 cup water. Take 1/2 cup a day.

Cold Extract- Soak 1 tsp. dried herb in 3/4 cup cold water for 10 hours and strain. Take 3/4 cup a day.

Tincture: A dose is from 5 to 20 drops.

CAUTION: Large doses of rue can cause mild poisoning. Contact with the fresh plant may cause dermatitis in sensitive persons; the juice is a local irritant

Rue is not to be used by pregnant women. Do not boil rue or do not use in large quantities.

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