Rue, Ruta graveolens, is a highly ornamental plant which was commonly used medicinally in the past. It’s no longer popular in herbal medicine probably because of its potential damaging effects.
Common rue, herb-of-grace
Dried aerial parts
Native to the Balkan Peninsula, it is found throughout the world.
Rue is a small perennial evergreen bush.
Height: 90 cm (3 feet)
Width: 60 cm (2 feet)
Flowers: Yellow and small
Leaves: Highly aromatic, blue-gray
Blooms: June to September
Rue does better in warm climates, growing larger and fuller. In cold climates and in partial shade it tends to grow more straggly.
Hardiness: Zone 4
Propagation: Seed or cuttings
Germination: 10-14 days
Spacing: 30 cm (1 foot)
Soil: well-drained. It tolerates dry soils well. It can no tolerate wet soils.
Exposure: Full sun
Garden Design: The blue-gray foliage make it a great addition to any herb garden. It looks wonderful near roses and as a small hedge.
Companion planting: Avoid planting it near wormwood. They make a nice combination, however, wormwood can hinder the growth of many herbs. For a nice effect, plant sage in between rue and wormwood. Rue, like many highly aromatic herbs, is an excellent companion to roses. The aroma helps keep aphids at bay.
Place the leaves on a flat surface in a well ventilated room to dry. You can also use a dehydrator set at 35 Celsius (95 F). When the leaves are crisp, store them in an airtight container away from light.
Essential oils; flavonoids (quercetin, rutin); coumarins (bergapten, isoimperatorin, psoralen, scopoletin, umbelliferone); alkaloids (arborinine, graveoline); lignans; savinin and helioxanthin
Antispasmodic, emmenagogue, antitussive, antimicrobial, abortifacient, bitter, relaxant
MEDICINAL USE OF RUE
Rue has been used as an antispasmodic to alleviate menstrual cramps, to relax smooth muscles of the digestive system, and to soothe coughs. It can relax the uterus and soothe anxiety related symptoms. It can be used for increasing the circulation to the limbs and to lower blood pressure.
Used internally for:
- Regulating the menstrual cycle
- Relaxing the smooth muscles (especially of the digestive system)
- Spasmodic coughs
- Increasing peripheral circulation
- Lowering blood pressure
- Soothing anxiety related symptoms such as palpitations and tension headaches
Recommended daily dosage
Tincture: (1:5 in 40% alcohol): 1-4 ml three times per day.
Tea: 1-2 tsp of dried herb per cup of boiling water. Infuse for 10-15 minutes. Drink three times per day.
Italians like to add this pungent herb to their salads, but only in small quantities. The Italian liqueur Grappa con ruta also contains rue. It is also used in Ethiopian cuisine in a sharp sauce of cayenne, in beverages and to make rue cheese.
Rue can cause abortions and skin irritation (contact dermatitis). It can also cause phytophotodermatitis (burn like blisters on the skin).
Due to its ability to relax the muscles of the uterus, rue should be avoided during pregnancy.
Rue essential oil is a poison and should be avoided at all times.
Hoffmann, D. 2003. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester: Healing Arts Press
Keville, K. 1994. Herbs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. New York: Friedman/Fairfax Publishers