Ruta graveolens — commonly known as rue, common rue or herb-of-grace — is a species of Ruta grown as an herb. It is native to the Balkan Peninsula. It is now grown throughout the world as an ornamental plant in gardens, especially because of its bluish leaves, and also sometimes for its tolerance of hot and dry soil conditions. It is also cultivated as a medicinal herb, as a condiment, and to a lesser extent as an insect repellent.
The Tacuinum Sanitatis, a medieval handbook on wellness, lists these properties of rue:
Nature:Warm and dry in the third degree.
Optimum:That which is grown near a fig tree.
Usefulness:It sharpens the eyesight and dissipates flatulence.
Dangers:It augments the sperm and dampens the desire for coitus.
Neutralization of the Dangers:With foods that multiply the sperm.
The refined oil of rue is an emmenagogue and was cited by the Roman historian Pliny the Elder and the gynecologist Soranus as a potent abortifacient (inducing abortion).
Rue does have a culinary use if used sparingly, but it is bitter and gastric discomfort may be experienced by some individuals. Although used more extensively in former times, it is not an herb that is typically found in modern cuisine, and is today largely unknown to the general public and most chefs, and unavailable in grocery stores. It is a component of berbere, the characteristic Ethiopian spice mixture, and as such is encountered in Ethiopian cuisine.
It was used extensively in ancient Near Eastern and Roman cuisine (according to Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq and Apicius).
Rue leaves and berries are an important part of the cuisine of Ethiopia.
Rue is used as a traditional flavouring in Greece and other Mediterranean countries.
In Istria (a region in Croatia), and in Northern Italy, it is used to give a special flavour to grappa/raki and most of the time a little branch of the plant can be found in the bottle. This is called grappa alla ruta.
Seeds can be used for porridge.
The bitter leaf can be added to eggs, cheese, fish, or mixed with damson plums and wine to produce a meat sauce.
In Italy in Friuli Venezia-Giulia, the young branches of the plant are dipped in a batter, deep-fried in oil, and consumed with salt or sugar. They are also used on their own to aromatise a specific type of omelette.
Rue is also grown as an ornamental plant, both as a low hedge and so the leaves can be used in nosegays. Most cats dislike the smell of it, and it can therefore be used as a deterrent to them (see also Plectranthus caninus). Caterpillars of some subspecies of the butterfly Papilio machaon feed on rue, as well as other plants. The caterpillars of Papilio xuthus also feed readily on it. In South India, rue is recommended for home gardens to repel snakes (however the effectiveness is unknown).
What is Rue Essential Oil?
A top note with a strong aroma, rue essential oil has a sharply herbaceous, distinctly fruity orange-like scent, with a characteristic bitter acrid back note (thus the term, ‘bitter rue’ and the name’s becoming a euphemism for regret).
A home herbal remedy, rue essential oil is used for various gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and other body system ailments. Known for its strong, bitter aroma, rue is a toxic yet effective insect repellent. The essential oil, also used in recipes and cosmetics, has a rich history of folklore and superstitious use.
Rue essential oil, also known as garden rue, or herby grass, is used in perfume oils and other cosmetics. Herbal vinegars, alcohols, and other flavorings are sometimes made from rue. Rue essential oil is considered an appropriate complement to other herbs, such as wormwood, myrrh, fennel, chamomile, vervain, penny royal, thyme, and bay.
As a medicine, rue essential oil is used to treat glaucoma, gout, itchy skin, rheumatism, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, warts, and various wounds. Contusions, fainting spells, dry socket, headaches, convulsions, compression wounds, high blood pressure, toothaches, foot pain, anxiety, epilepsy, and stiffness can also be relieved with rue. Over 100 chemicals, including alkaloids and flavanoids, are found within the woody herb.
Other products that may list rue essential oil as an ingredient include bath oils, air fresheners, soaps, and incense. Light rings, potpourri, and laundry soap can also be made from rue essential oil. Spas may utilize the herbal remedy in their services, such as in hair treatments or facial steams.
Chemical Constituents of Rue Essential Oil
The essential oil of rue is extracted by steam distillation of the fresh plants of Rue, which has a botanical name of Ruta Graveolens. The main components of this oil are Bergaptene, Butanone, Nonanone, Nonyl Acetate, Psoralen, Undecanone, and Xanthotoxin.
Benefits of Rue Essential Oil
The health benefits of rue essential oil can be attributed to its properties as an antibacterial, antidote, antifungal, anti-hysteric, anti-rheumatic, digestive, insecticidal, nervine and spiritual substance.
The toxic nature of Rue essential oil is effective in killing bacteria and preventing bacterial infections. If it has be taken orally, which is normally recommended against, it should be taken in very, very mild concentrations and under supervision by an expert. It can help you get rid of food poisoning by bacteria like salmonella, bacterial infections in the colon, intestines, and urinary tract, as well as those on the skin.
Rue essential oil, since it is poisonous to begin with, acts as an antidote for a number of other poisons and can be administered against symptoms of poisoning. However, it is effective on neurotoxins, not on hemotoxins. It can also be helpful to counter poisoning and induce vomiting in case any poisonous substances are ingested. It is particularly beneficial against intoxication by narcotics, venomous snake bites (snakes like cobras and king cobras, which have neurotoxic venom, not vipers which have hemotoxic venom), insect bites, and stings.
The same toxic nature of this essential oil explains its anti-fungal properties as well. It can effectively terminate fungal growth both inside and outside of the body and can provide protection against fungal diseases like Athletes foot, dermatitis, de-complexion of the skin, and various types of food poisoning.
Being a nervous sedative, it is very effective in countering epileptic and hysteric attacks. The neurotoxins in this oil induce numbness in the nerves and make them completely relaxed and de-sensitized, thereby making the patient calm, inactive and tranquilized.
It is effective in reducing pain in the joints associated with arthritis and rheumatism due to de-sensitizing and numbing effects, which work in a similar way to an anesthetic.
Although it is not known to promote digestion, it can help to relieve indigestion, particularly digestive issues that result from bacterial infections or activities.
This is yet another bright aspect of the toxic properties of this oil. It is more poisonous to insects and is thus effective in killing and driving them away. It can be used in vaporizers, fumigants, burners, and incense sticks to keep away insects.
The neurotoxic nature of this oil acts as a sedative for the nerves and calms down nervous disturbances and afflictions, convulsions, and nervous hyperactivity that can often result in trembling limbs and uncontrolled involuntary actions.
Regret and grief may exert such an influence that pain seems to be a part of our cellular structure. In fact, recent scientific evidence points to our cells as having the capacity to think and to feel. Such deeply felt pain can obscure our vision and alter our perspective. Truth becomes relative to our experience of pain. We either indulge in denial, suppressing memory, or rewrite the truth in order to survive or to seek vengeance. Rue, combined synergistically with the right combination of other essential oils, can help us root out the energy blockage that our grief and pain have created.
Precautions for Rue Essential Oil
Care should be taken in the handling of rue essential oil. The oil itself should never be taken internally, as it is poisonous. A health care professional should be consulted prior to use. Gloves should be worn when handling the oil at all times. Overdose can cause burning, sun sensitivity, skin irritation, poisoning, or death. Being an abortifacient, it can result in accidental abortions. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid the oil entirely.