Ruta graveolens

Here is another herb that has remained popular and widely used for centures.

Other Names: Herb-of-Grace, Herbygrass

Rue is the national flower of Lithuania representing purity and virginity. Rue is first mentioned by Turner in 1562, in his Herbal, and has since become one of the best known and most widely grown herbs for medicinal and home uses.

At one time, holy water was sprinkled from brushes made of Rue at a ceremony usually preceding the Sunday celebration of High Mass, for which reason it is supposed it was named the Herb of Repentance and the Herb of Grace. ‘There’s rue for you and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays.’

Rue has a disagreeable odor and is very bitter in taste.

Rue as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

RueThe medicinal parts are oil extracted from the herb. The herbal parts of the plant are harvested after flowering. The fresh aerial parts of the plant are collected at the beginning of the flowering season with the whole plant.

Rue was much used by the Ancients. Hippocrates specially commended it. The Greeks regarded it as an antimagical herb, because it served to remedy the nervous indigestion they suffered when eating before strangers, which they attributed to witchcraft. In the Middle Ages and later, it was considered – in many parts of Europe – a powerful defence against witches, and was used in many spells. It was also thought to bestow second sight.

In 1625 a Neapolitan physician named Piperno, commended Rue against epilepsy and vertigo, and for the former malady, at one time, some of this herb was hung around the neck of the sufferer.

Rue is used in small amounts to expel poisons from the system, such as those from snake bites, scorpion, spider, or jellyfish bites. Juices from the fresh plant can cause the skin to blister. It is used internally and externally as a remedy for tendonitis.

The juice from Rue was used against earache.

Fresh Rue leaves applied to the temple is said to relieve headache. Chewing a leaf or two is said to not only have a refreshing aromatic taste, but will pervade the mouth and relieve one of a nervous headache, giddiness, hysterical spasms or palpitations.

Oil of Rue is distilled from the fresh herb. Water extracts the virtues of the plant better than spirits of wine. Decoctions and infusions are usually made from the fresh plant, or the oil may be given in a dose of from 1 to 5 drops.

The greyish green dried herb has similar taste and odor, but is less powerful. It is used, powdered, for making tea.

Folk medicine: Preparations of rue herb and/or leaves are used for menstrual disorders, as an effective uterine remedy and as an abortive agent. In folk medicine, Rue is used for menstrual complaints, as a contraceptive. The herb is also used for inflammation of the skin, oral and pharyngeal cavities, earache, toothache, for feverish infectious diseases, for cramps, as an obstetric remedy, hepatitis, dyspepsia, diarrhea and intestinal worm infestations.

Homeopathic Uses: Among uses in homeopathy are contusions, sprains, bruising, varicose veins and rheumatism (especially of the spine).

Mode of Administration. Preparations of the leaves and root are used internally as a tea and also externally.

Rue Tea. Tea or a cold decoction is prepared by adding 1 heaping teaspoonful to 1/4 liter of water. The tea may be several times a day. For delayed menstruation 2 cups per day of the infusion is taken.

Household: Rue-water sprinkled in the house ‘kills all the fleas,’ says an old book.

Culinary Uses of Rue

Unknown. Not recommended.


During the Middle Ages, rue was thought to offer protection from witches and evil spells, and to ward off the plague.


Rue should not be taken with meals.

Rue is not to be used during pregnancy.

This herb is poisonous in any but small doses.

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