common rue, ruta graveolens, herb

Rue a Plant With Multiple Uses

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Rue is a plant that has multiple uses and is often associated with negative connotations and superstitions. The use of Rue as a medicinal herb has declined in modern times due to its toxicity, bitterness, and lack of knowledge. This post aims to be a clarifier and a tribute to this amazing plant, that if used properly can be a powerful ally to our physical, mental and spiritual health, and also a mild pest repellent to our organic gardens.

Rue is translated from the Greek word  “reuo”, which means to liberate. This plant is so effective in the healing process that it was one of the favorite herbs of Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, and who, according to the story, did not spare her praise. A very interesting fact about this herb is that it was present at various periods throughout the history of mankind. Rue was sacred to the early Jews, Egyptians, and Caledonians, who believed that it was a gift from the gods.

Shakespeare quoted it in the book Richard III, in addition, the Greeks regarded it as an anti-magic herb and Celtic magicians believed that this was a holy remedy to combat witchcraft and spells. This belief was so strong that in the Middle Ages during the Inquisition (around the 13th century), rue was considered a powerful defense against witches, and was used by the Roman Catholic Church in the ritual of exorcism. 

This plant was used by Piperno, a famous Neapolitan physician, to treat epilepsy and vertigo, where curiously part of the treatment included the use of leaves suspended on the patient’s neck. It is believed to be effective in treating eye problems, especially if the ability of vision is compromised by excessive exertion, the popular “tired eye”. It was the herb of great painters, who “devoured” substantial quantities of leaves to have a clear ocular vision, and inner vision. Some say that Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo affirmed that the “magical powers” of rue favored their creative capacities.

Ruta Graveolens

Common Name: Herb of Grace, Herbygrass, Garden Rue, Herb of repentance, Fue des Jardins (Fr.), Gartenraute (Ger.), Ruta (Ital.)

  • Family: Rutaceae
  • Botanical Name: Ruta graveolens
  • Origin: Mediterranean region
  • Habitat: Hot and dry soil conditions
  • Arruda’s Life Cycle: Perennial

Cultivation preferences: Fits any soil but gives preference to dry and poor soils, well-drained, sun or partially shaded exposure and tolerates temperatures up to approximately -10ºC.

Form of propagation: 

  • Sowing The seeds mature between August and October. It can be placed in pots and in permanent places at any time of the year. When about 2 inches high, transplant into fresh beds, allowing about 18 inches each way, as the plants become bushy.
  • Cuttings Taken in spring and insert into the ground, keep the area moist until they’re rooted.
  • Rooted slips  also taken in spring. Every slip or cutting of the young wood will grow.

Ornamental Features: Flowering between June and September. H: 0.5 m, ᴓ 0.3 m

Caution: A word of caution when handling the plant. Especially on hot days, avoid direct contact with the plant. Sap and leaves can cause irritations and skin allergies. If handling or cutting any part of the plant, wear protective gloves and appropriate clothing. Even if you only want to have rue in your garden and do not think about handling the plant, avoid the usual areas of passage to reduce the risk of contact with the skin.

The Herbal Uses Of Ruta Graveolens

Key actions: Antispasmodic, Circulatory stimulant, Antiseptic, Anthelmintic, Antiparasite, Nervine, Carminative, Disinfectant, Anti-rheumatic, Tonic, Emetic, Aromatic, Antivenomous, Rubefacient, Sedative, Counter-irritant, Diuretic, Hypotensive, Emmenagogue;

Contraindications: Due to the phototoxic action, the essential oil should not be administered internally, this same action may still cause dermatitis. Nor topically to children under the age of six. Pregnant women should avoid prolonged ingestion or exceed therapeutic doses because they have a stimulating effect on the uterus and may induce abortion. The plant juices contain furanocoumarins, which sensitizes the skin to light (phototoxicity) and can cause dermatitis or blisters. Rue’s mild toxicity can cause mood changes, sleep disorders, fatigue, dizziness, spasms, fainting, bradycardia, tongue swelling, and. Dry rue can also produce side effects, but they tend to be milder than those caused by fresh rue. If leaves are ingested in doses of more than 120 milligrams, or more than 1/2 cup of oil, rue can cause vomiting, severe abdominal pain and sometimes death.

Rue as a Homeopathic Remedy

For many centuries and due to the rutin present in its composition, it was used topically to strengthen weak capillaries. In popular medicine, compresses are applied to wounds. Essential oil is applied to ear infections and is currently used in some fragrances. Cream or massage oil relieves rheumatic pain. In the form of ointment for gout, back pain, and muscle spasms. Fresh leaves are applied to the head as a remedy for headaches. 

Ruta graveolens is composed of essential oil (limonene, pinene, anisic acid, phenol), flavonoids (rutin, quercetin), hypericin, furanocoumarins (bergapten, psoralen), alkaloids, tannin, pectin, and iron. It has a calming effect, in part because of it’s antispasmodic and analgesic properties. By helping to relax the muscles, this plant has been used to treat neuromuscular problems.

Rue tea should not be consumed often

It is recommended that the consumption of the rue tea be made only with medical authorization since it is a plant classified as toxic. Consumption considered safe for healthy people who are not pregnant is a maximum of 30 mg of rue daily, but should not be taken regularly. 

Due to its analgesic properties, Rue tea helps to reduce menstrual cramps and also helps to regulate the menstrual cycles since Rue tea helps to control hormone levels in women and for this reason, it acts as a regulator in menstruation, but in excess can have an abortive effect. It is also known to improve the urinary system through the efficiency of the work of the kidneys in filtering the blood and expelling fluids and toxins. As a result, there is a decrease in swelling and fluid retention.

The anti-inflammatory properties present in rue also play a key role in the treatment of urinary infections. Consumption of rue tea can help prevent asthma attacks by preventing contraction of the lung alveoli, and it helps relieve inflammation in the airways.

The antispasmodic properties help alleviate other diseases that cause pain such as rheumatoid pain, it is not a treatment against the problem but relieves symptoms considerably. Intestinal transit is also improved by ingesting the rue tea, causing food to flow better through the intestine. It also helps treat ulcers and infections in these areas. It is also known that rue tea can help in the natural elimination of worms and parasites that inhabit the body.

The Esoteric Properties of Ruta Graveolens

Many people also believe that rue has esoteric properties and can be used for purposes other than those already described above. Ancient empires discovered rue and nicknamed it a thousand-fold leaf for the wide variety of properties it exhibits. Later, ‘witches’ discovered the magical powers of the herb and used it to craft various spells to attract love, money, and positive energy. Today, it continues to be used for therapeutic, magical, and esoteric purposes. It is considered a true “thermometer” of the energy of the place where it is since its development is harmed by heavy environments, and by the presence of people with low frequencies. On the other hand, if you are in a harmonious and pleasant environment, rue plant will bloom with a lot of vitality. 

Energy Polarity: Yang

Regent Planet: Mars

Some of the “magical” uses of rue are:

Protection – This is the most well-known virtue of rue, which has been used as protection by several different civilizations for thousands of years. Carrying a bit of this plant with you is thought to create a protective energy field.

Negativity Removal – If you are dealing with many negative situations and people, with the impression that everything is going wrong, rue can certainly help. It promotes balance, absorbing negativity and preventing it from affecting your daily life and that of the people who live with you.

Fighting envy and evil eye – Rue pushes away envy and evil eye of other people, preventing us from being affected by this kind of bad feeling and harmful to our lives. In this way, our well-deserved achievements are always protected from the evil eye.

Emission of positive vibrations – This powerful herb transforms negative energies by absorbing them into positive vibrations, helping to create a serene and pleasant environment. Rue still conveys calm and helps to bring forth will power, contributing to a peaceful and prosperous life.

Money Magnet – Rue plant has also consistently been used to attract good fortune, and today, it continues to be used to cast spells effective in attracting money. To do this, it is best to use the plant bath method.

Ruta Graveolens As a Pest Repellent For Organic Gardens 

Recently, some studies have been done about the potential of various components of Rue essential oils in fighting several unwanted insects. The conclusions lead to think that this plant still has much to give. However, some repellent features of rue are already well known and can be enjoyed in your garden.

A fairly common association is to plant rue together with rose bushes and raspberries. It is also known for its effectiveness in keeping cats and dogs off. Plant them on the edges of the garden. This will dissuade them from invading and ruining the cultures. Ants, rats and some species of caterpillars are also repelled to Rue. Although its power as an insect repellent, Rue is a favorite host for both the Black Swallowtail and the Giant Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.

But you can go further. If possible, plant them close to the crops that are most susceptible to being attacked by aphids. If you have chosen to cultivate the Rue in pots, you can easily change the pots of place as needed to protect crops.

Rue Syrup To Control Aphids

Another benefit of having Rue in your garden is that you will be able to make a good homemade insecticide that you can use in pest control in plants. Rue syrup is used effectively to control aphids, mites, small caterpillars, scale insects, whiteflies and bedbugs.

Scoop 3 sprigs of rue with 30 cm in length. Chop the branches and leaves, beat the blender with 1 L of water. Strain the mixture into thin cloth and store it in a dark bottle in a cool place and away from direct sunlight. This liquid alone will not adhere to the leaves. You need an adhesive soap emulsifier that can be easily made at home. Mix 100g of neutral bar soap and grate in 2 L of hot water. Let it dissolve completely. Then add 8 L of cold water. You can store the 10 liters of emulsifier in plastic containers and use them as needed. When you want to apply Arruda’s syrup, simply mix 200 ml of syrup with 2 L of soap emulsifier and spray the plants.

Information on the traditional uses and properties of herbs that are provided here are for educational use only and is not intended as medical advice. Many traditional uses and properties of herbs have not been validated by the FDA. If you have any serious health concerns, you should always check with your health care practitioner before self-administering herbs.


Blumenthal M, ed. “The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines”. Trans. S. Klein. Boston, MA: American Botanical Council, 1998.

“School of Natural Healing” by Dr. John R. Christopher.

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