Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Forgotten Herbs ~ Rue

An Herbal Blog Party! A collection of writings on forgotten herbs, hosted by Rebecca Hartman of Crabapple Herbs and Thank you Rebecca!

Rue ~ Ruta graveolens ~
Family: Rutaceae
Taste: strongly bitter and aromatic
Parts used: Areal parts
Preparations: Tincture, Tea, Liniment, Oil, Spirit,

I picked up this beauty last August at the Women's Herbal Conference. I'm delighted to see her return and am anxious to see how full she grows and if I will have enough for a small harvest. For now, I will seat myself beside her for journeys, as Rue is known for her Shamanic power and protective aura. In fact, the word Ruta descended from the Greek word Reuo, meaning "to set free" according to . Funny, how it also cites it to be an antidote to witch's - since in my eyes it is quite the witch's ally. I wouldn't hesitate to ask the help of spirit Rue, for even though her energy is powerful and distinct, I feel her to be a potent, protective channel for intentions, prayer, and healing vibrations.

Ecuadorian Shamans would include this powerful herb for ceremony and herbal bathing to expel unwanted spirits, and to rid the body of 'stuck wind'. The amazing Rocio Alarcon used it in combination with other freshly picked plants in her wonderful healing ceremony, whereby she dipped her medicine bouquet in water and whipped the air in front of each person while calling in her guardians and chanting sacred words of protection and health.

Rue is a native to the Mediterranean and Northern Africa, (although a hardy, full sun perennial here in New England) and in Italy very small amounts of the fresh leaf are still eaten in salads to prevent disease and parasites. The fresh leaf is also crushed and applied to the temples to relieve headaches, although most profiles will mention that it is a rubefacient and may irritate the skin such like poison ivy does. I pet my plant often to inhale the complex, spicy, deep aroma and have not had any reaction. The flowers are blooming right now, little yellow-green spots at the tips of the blue grey flat-leafed plant. The flowers have been used for eye washes, relieving eyestrain or eye infection and also for fertility.

Internal doses are low, as more than ten drops (tincture) of this emetic herb can cause vomiting, but a lower dose can kill parasites and ease one of digestive upsets due to it's hot, bitter, and moving character.

I propose that Rue be tried on Lyme. I will try and explain.......

It's anti-parasitic action and blood-cleansing (unanimously 'anti-poison') action are two clues. But I also feel like Rue is powerfully transformative, something that Lyme disease asks us to do. It's planetary alliances are of the South, Mars and Fire. All being elements of transformation and Karmic forces. It's spirit is dramatic yet with consistency and grace, feeling to me like a welcome helper in times of unpredictable Lyme symptoms. It's action against eye problems (probably due to the Rutin content combined with it's volatile oils) suggests to me that it may have the power to cross the blood-brain barrier. This is my hypothesis, mind you, but this is an action that is sought out by Lyme sufferers. Another quality that adds up is that, when externally applied, it relieves sciatica, neuralgia, rheumatism, and gout pain, seeming to restore the functions of both the nerves and the capillaries. Drinking Rue-infused beer is an old remedy for venomous snake bites, along with applying some to the bite (after lancing) according to Juliette de Bairacli Levy. She also mentions it's use as a cure for Rabies. !! SO.... I can't see why it wouldn't be effective against a spirochete. It seems in the vein of Wormwood, Mugwort, and Jackass bitters, all of which I have used successfully in combination with other tinctures, for Lyme cases in my own children.
It's even said to cure insanity.
That's one heck of an herb. Of course, I think that just coming into contact with fresh herbs - any herbs - on a regular basis will cure insanity.
I planted this lovely omnipotent plant right outside my door step, in the garden, next to my mugwort, wormwood, nepeta, and bloodroot. (What was that about warding of witches? Ha!)

Back to the kitchen, fresh Rue leaves can be used as a flavoring for olives, and also is, by people in Iraq, eaten with raisins. It can be infused in to wine, and as mentioned above in beer, but can also be infused into honey and eaten by the small teaspoonfull, to ease flatulence and digestive upsets of the cold, sensitive kind.

To prepare a Rue liniment, loosely fill a jar with fresh Rue leaf and stem on the full moon (tomorrow!), and cover with half olive oil and half vodka. Steep for two weeks, while the moon turns from full to new. Shake well each day, and decant on the New Moon. Prayers and Moon baths especially good! Apply to hips and lower back for sciatica, or to areas with arthritis or rheumatism. Hardened tissue can also be helped by this wonderfully anti-vata herb (curing stuck-wind and cold hardness) by external application. Making an infused oil is as easy as the above recipe, omitting the vodka.
Or, eat a small (1/4 teaspoon) of the oil/vodka extraction to relieve stubborn constipation.

Contraindications: Rue is a powerful abortificient, and should not be used by pregnant women.

However, for cold, repressed or scanty menstruation, or to bring on contractions during arduous labor, Rue tincture can be used. Start with only 2-3 drops in water, and not exceeding 15 drops at a time for certain. A few drops is likely all that is needed. I imagine Rue infused oil would be helpful during painful back labor.

Ruta graveolens is also a popular homeopathic remedy. My little pamphlet quotes an observant phrase by Nicholas Culpeper (an old-time herbalist I am just now learning about but is well-loved by fellow Herbwives!) Here is the phrase:

"Rue is a shrubby plant with tough, woody branches.
The leaves are evergreen and have a bitter taste.
The flowers are yellow and appear at the ends of the younger shoots."

Cute, but I wouldn't describe it as evergreen despite it's resistance to dormancy while the weather turns cold.

The profile continues to describe the use of the homeopathic remedy for:

Eyestrain: red hot burning, overuse, injury, weak vision, pressure in socket or eyebrows.

Headaches: heavy as if weight in forehead.

Bone injuries: bruised, lame sensation.

Dental problems: deep aching, dry socket.

Sprains: sore tendons and ligaments, feet and ankles painful, aching in heel tendon, pain and stiff wrists and hands

Sciatica: worse at night or lying down, pain from back down through hips and thighs

Backache: Deep pains, thighs feel broken, relieved by lying on back, by pressure, weak or bruised feeling in lower back.

Better from: Lying on back, warmth, motion. (classic anti-vata helpers)

Worse from: cold wet weather, being at rest, lying down, cold, overexertion, cold wind, sitting.

I am always fascinated by the immense specificity of homeopathic indications.

Rue is also mentioned as a helpful plant for funerals, and for honoring our past ancestors.

Green Blessings!
Copyright 2007
Published May 30 (not as listed above - blog annoyances!)
Homeopathic reference guide by Standard homeopathic
Medicine Grove A Shamanic Herbal by Loren Cruden
Infusions of Healing, a Treasury of Mexican-American Herbal Remedies by Joie Davidow
Opening our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs by Gail Faith Edwards
A Druids Herbal by Ellen Evert Hopman
Me: my intutive scriptures and sensory experience


Kiva Rose said...

Beautiful and insightful post, and your blog is gorgeous. Thanks for writing!

Ananda said...

Hello Kiva! Thank you so much. I'm loving my rue plant and anticipate learning more from her.

indianpedi said...

Although Ruta graveolens does not grow here ( India ), we extensively use its imported extract for treating bone injuries and inflammations ( any problem with the periosteal covering of a bone ) with great results.
Dr. Joshi at

Heather said...

First let me say thank you for all the wonderful insight on Rue. Very inspiring.
I have been doing research on this herb recently and in so doing noticed that another site listed it as an abortive herb. ( ) In the interest of making sure people are aware of this property or to see if this is not a fact, I wanted to bring it to your attention. Thank you for your time and wonderful efforts to share the love and insights.

Ananda said...

Heather, glad you enjoyed the post on Rue. Within the article, I do state it's abortive capacity following, highlighted in yellow, the word: "Contraindications". I agree it's important for folks to know their plants well before using it. At the same time, my blog is not intended for comprehensive advice or herbal education.