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erbal Medicine Materia Medica


© David L. Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMH

Ruta graveolens


Names: Garden Rue, Herb of Grace, Herbygrass.

Habitat: Native to Southern Europe, cultivated in Britain and elsewhere as an ornamental.

Collection: The herb should be collected before the flowers open in the summer and dried in the shade.

Part Used: Dried aerial parts.


  • 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, [[gamma]]-fagarine, graveoline, graveolinine, kokusaginine, rutacridine.
  • Lignans, in the root; savinin and helioxanthin.
Actions: Anti-spasmodic, emmenagogue, anti-tussive, anti-microbial, bitter, abortifacient.

Indications: Rue is a herb with an ancient history. The genus name " Ruta " comes from the Greek work " reuo ", to set free, showing its reputation as a freer from disease. Its main use is the regulation of menstrual periods, where it is used to bring on suppressed menses. The oil of Rue is a powerful abortifacient, therefore the plant is best avoided during pregnancy. The other area of usage is due to the plant's anti-spasmodic action. It may be used to relax smooth muscles, especially in the digestive system where it will ease griping and bowel tension. The easing of spasm gives it a role in the stopping of spasmodic coughs. It also increases peripheral circulation and lowers elevated blood pressure. If the fresh leaf is chewed, it will relieve tension headaches, ease palpitations and other anxiety problems.

To quote King's Dispensatory - " Its action is chiefly directed upon the uterus, and is capable of exciting menorrhagia, inflammation and miscarriage. It has been successfully used in flatulent colic, hysteria, some nervous complaints, epilepsy, and as an excellent vermifuge. Rue is a stimulant to the genito-urinary tract, and, in small doses, might prove a remedy in atonic conditions of those parts. Owing to its affinity for the nervous system, it relieves irritation and pain when administered in small amounts.

CAUTION: Avoid during pregnancy.

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

Preparations & Dosage: Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto l-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leave to infuse for l0-l5 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day. Tincture: take l-4ml of the tincture three times a day.

Citations from the Medline database for the genus Ruta Rue al-Said MS Tariq M al-Yahya MA Rafatullah S Ginnawi OT Ageel AM Studies on Ruta chalepensis, an ancient medicinal herb still used in traditional medicine.

J Ethnopharmacol 1990 Mar;28 (3): 305-12 Gandhi M Lal R Sankaranarayanan A Sharma PL Post-coital anti-fertility action of Ruta graveolens in female rats and hamsters.

J Ethnopharmacol 1991 Aug;34 (1): 49-59 Kong YC Lau CP Wat KH Ng KH But PP Cheng KF Waterman PG Anti-fertility principle of Ruta graveolens.

Planta Med 1989 Apr;55 (2): 176-8 Minker E Bartha C Koltai M Rozsa Z Szendrei K Reisch J Effect of secondary substances isolated from the Ruta graveolens L. on the coronary smooth muscle.

Acta Pharm Hung 1980 Jan;50 (1): 7-11 Nieschulz O Schneider G [Pharmacological findings on alkaloids from Ruta graveolens L]

Naturwissenschaften 1965 Jul;52 (13): 394-5 (Published in German) Wehr K [Criminal abortion using ruta roots (Ruta graveolens L.)]

Beitr Gerichtl Med 1974;32:126-31 (Published in German)

About The Author
Whilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary......more
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