- Family Rutaceae
- Ruta graveolens
- Ruta chalepensis
- Herb-of-Grace, Ave-Grace, Garden Rue, German Rue, Herbygrass, Yellow Rue, Roe,
- Spanish: Ruda, Ruta, Lota, Lula, Luta, Lura
Do not take during pregnancy as it is a uterine stimulant.
It can lead to photosensitivity if taken internally.
It can cause contact dermatitis after handling fresh leaves.
Do not exceed prescribed dosage as it can be toxic.
Rue has hallucinogenic properties, and inhaling large amounts can be a dangerous practice.
Despite is wide use, it is one of the more dangerous herbs and should not be used by anyone other than the very knowledgeable.
Native to Europe, likely to the Mediterranean region, rue now grows in many parts of the world, including Latin America. It is often cultivated as a garden ornamental and as a medicinal plant. Rue is a strongly aromatic evergreen perennial that grows to about three feet. The small, erect bush produces shoots that are a pale green and appear to be covered in oil glands. It produces small yellow flowers; and its fruit contains rutin, the volatile oil that gives it a bitter taste. The aerial parts are gathered in the summer.
In ancient Greece and Egypt, rue was employed to stimulate menstrual bleeding, induce abortions, and strengthen eyesight.
In ancient times, rue was considered a major remedy. It is mentioned more than eighty times by Pliny, but its reputation has lessened as it can be toxic. Pliny also reported that, in ancient Rome, rue was used by painters and engravers to sharpen and preserve their eyesight.
Its name is derived from the Greek word “rua” which means to set free, alluding to its reputation of freeing people from disease.
It has been considered an antidote since at least the 1st century. According to legend, King Mithradates of Asia Minor survived his enemies’ attempts to poison him by eating rue.
Rue was brought to Mexico by the Spanish, and is still used for “spiritual cleansings” and as a medicinal remedy.
- emmenagogue (induces menstrual flow)
- supports and strengthens blood vessels
- uterine stimulant
- volatile oil (about 0.5% including 50-90% 2-undecanone)
- essential oil
- flavonoids (including 2-5% rutin)
- furocoumarins (including bergapten, psoralen, and zanthotoxin – often used as insect and fungi repellents)
- hydroxycoumarins (including umbelliferone, herniarin, gravelliferon, rutacultin)
- pyranocoumarins (including xanthyletine)
- lignans (savinin, helioxanthine)
- furoquinoline alkaloids (about 1.4% of fagarine, skimmianine, arborinine and others)
- methyl nonyl ketone and methyl heptyl ketone (used in dog and cat repellents)
- Aerial parts
- In experiments, rue has proven to act as an anticonvulsant.
- Extracts have displayed antibacterial and antituberculosis activity.
- In other experiments, chloroform extracts of the root, stem, and leaves showed significant antifertility activity in rats.
There may be some validity to the ancient use of the plant on the eyes as it does bring quick relief to strained and tired eyes, and reputedly does improve sight.
In European herbal medicine, the plant was often used for such varied conditions as hysteria, epilepsy, vertigo, colic, intestinal worms, poisonings, and eye problems. A related species, R. chalenpensis, found in the Mediterranean region, does have the ability to expel worms, promote menstrual flow, and soothe sore eyes.
Rue is used in Costa Rica for a wide variety of conditions, as well as to abort a fetus or to speed the delivery of one at full term. In addition, forms of the plant are used an insecticide and flea repellent or as a liniment for sore muscles.
Hispanics curanderos use the herb for their ritual spiritual cleansings, to treat “empacho” and “mal ojo;” and it is sometimes worn in amulets to keep the evil spirits away.
Some herbal practitioners use fresh leaves to ease toothe pain; and juice is dropped in the ear for earache.
Rue has been used to treat multiple sclerosis and Bell’s palsy.
Rosita Arvigo states that Rue is her favourite herb, coming to her rescue when all else fails. She has used the herb to treat mental distress by having the patient suck on tiny pieces of leaves, as well as putting some in a bath. For endometriosis, she instructs the use of the herb be taken three times daily for ten days prior to menstruation, after the uterus has been centered through manipulation.
Mayan healers have used rue in rubbing alcohol to rub onto the forehead and palms of those who have fainted. Care must be taken not to get any near the eyes, mouth, or nose though. The rue stimulates blood flow to the brain, and the aroma stimulates blood circulation, bringing the person back to consciousness.
When the powdered herb was inhaled in times past, it would stop nosebleeds. However, it is not recommended for such today.