Garden Rue

The herb-of-grace

Ruta Graveolens L. - English name Common Rue also known as garden rue and herbygrass - is a medicinal plant from the family of Rutaceae. Original country is Southern (Mediterranean) Europe and it grows on rocks, old walls and dry hills, mainly on limestone. Rue is also wide spread in Eastern coastal states, Louisiana and California in the US.

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Rue is a perennial, hardy evergreen herb, that grows to 2 feet and produces seeds that can be used for partridge. Rue has a large and varied chemical composition. In all parts of the plant over 110 chemicals have been found, including flavanoids, alkaloids, essential oils and many others.

Rue ancient use

Rue has been used for centuries as a medical preparation and has a variety of roles. Aztecs and Mayas and other native peoples of North America made extensive use of rue. One of prime uses of Rue in old Greek and Roman medicine was as an abortifacient and emmenagogue.

John Riddle in his "Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance" describes over twenty separate citations for rue as abortifacient.

Common Rue
The herb of grace, or herbygrass, was used in the early Roman Catholic Church to sprinkle holy water and wash away sins.

Rue & homeopathy

Ruta Graveolens is a homeopathic remedy that may be helpful for compression wounds, contusions, physical overexertion, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, strengthens the capillary veins, dental problems - deep aching - 'dry socket', feet and ankles painful, aching and heel tendon, painful stiffness in writs and hands. Rue is also used for treatment of:

  • Brain and Nervous System Conditions: Acute pains in the head, anxiety convulsions, epilepsy, fainting spells, hysterical affections, nervous heart problems, nervousness, spasms, tension headaches, vertigo.
  • Cardiovascular Conditions: Arteriosclerosis, combined with Hawthorn, Horsetail, Mistletoe and Shepherd's Purse, increases peripheral circulation, lowers high blood pressure, venous congestion.
  • Eyesight: Makes the sight both sharp and clear, preserves of sight.
  • Female Conditions: Congestion of the uterus, heart palpitations in menopausal women, painful menstruation, promotes the onset of menstruation.
  • Gastrointestinal Conditions: Abdominal troubles, colic, cramps in the bowels, flatulence (gas/wind), improves appetite and digestion, stomach cramps.
  • Genitourinary Conditions: Relieves gouty pains.
  • Inflammatory Conditions: Relieves rheumatic pains
  • Parasitic Conditions: Eliminates worms.
  • Respiratory Conditions: Colic, croup, coughs, difficult breathing, head congestion.
  • Other: Nausea, tendonitis (internally and externally), wards off fever.
  • Rue is used in small amounts to expel poisons from the system, such as from bites of: Snake, scorpion, spider, jellyfish.
  • Externally Rue is used for: Gout, pains in the joints, rheumatism, sciatica, warts, dislocations, injuries to bones, tennis elbow.

Caution: Rue should not be taken in excess as large doses can cause mild poisoning, pregnant women also should not use it. Juices from the fresh plant may cause dermatitis in sensitive people and the skin to blister.

Excess of rue causes vomiting, can interfere with the liver, and can even be fatal. Rue can also interact negatively with blood thinning agents. This plant is bitter enough that overdosing on it is unlikely.

Rue & culinary

In the last 2000 years Rue has also been used in culinary as a bitter spice. Apart from occasional use in Italy (spicy Italian tomato sauce containing olives, capers, rue, marjoram, basil and lovage). Rue sometimes flavors liquors, as in 'grappa con ruta'. Rue is very popular in Ethiopia, where fresh leaves are sometimes used as a coffee flavourant, and as a components in the national spice mix berebere. Ethiopian cuisine is unique in using not only leaves from Rue, but also the druid fruits (rue berries).

Rue & garden

Rue is also an attractive "ever bluish green" shrub, a standout in the garden and is often included in herb gardens just for its historical interest. Rue thrives in poor sandy soils, and hot, dry sites and grows best in full sun. Rue can be shaped into a rounded mass and used in borders and beds, where it goes well with light colored flowers.

Other use

Rue was thought to protect against plague, and people also rubbed their floors with fresh rue to repel fleas. Like other bitters (wormwood, for instance), rue has been used to get rid of worms.

Rue has been used as an "anti-magic" herb for centuries. It was considered a reliable defense against witches. The rue leaf was the model for the suit of clubs in playing cards.