Weekly Herb Review #12 – Rue

If your hound by hap should bite his master
With honey, rue, and onion make a plaster
– Sir John Harrington, 1608

Common Names: Rue – from the Greek word reuo meaning, .. set free..ainly free from disease (also called Herb-of-Grace, Common Rue, Garden Rue, Herbygrass, Countryman.?Treacle)

Scientific Name: Ruta graveolens (graveolens means ..avy scented..r

Family: Rutaceae

Parts Used: Dried aerial parts

Growing/Harvesting: Native to southern Europe it has acclimated to cooler climates since being brought north. Rue grows best in dry, poor soil with good drainage. It is a compact perennial shrub with gray-green leaves and yellow-green flowers. Rue is prone to White Fly so don.?plant it near other plants with the same weakness. But, since it seems to be such a great bug and vermin repellant, it may be good to have around the vegetable garden. Harvest the young leaves just before the flowers open and dry them in the shade.

Qualities: Bitter, Pungent, Drying, Slightly warming, Aromatic (some like the smell, some say it is musty, some say it smells like tom cats)

Constituents/Nutrition: Essential oils, Flavonoids (Rutin, also known as Vitamin P for permeability factor, has been found to be helpful in repairing broken capillaries), Furanocoumarins, Alkaloids, Tannins, Vitamin A and C, lignans (in the root)

Properties/Actions: Astringent, Anthelmintic (worms), antispasmodic, anti-tussive (cough), abortifacient, emmenagogue, bile stimulant, parasiticide, stomachic.

Uses/Indications: For cold, stagnant, damp conditions. Used to bring on the menses and clear uterine stagnation. To relax smooth muscles (especially helpful in the GI system for colicky pains and in the Upper Resp. System for spastic cough). Good digestive aid; to expel worms; can increase peripheral circulation and decrease blood pressure. Sprigs of Rue can be hung up to repel insects, and the seed heads can be used in flower arrangements.

Folk History/Magical Uses: Highly used and written about throughout history. In fact, it is one of the most frequently appearing herbs in historical writings. Pliny spoke of how the Greeks used Rue to improve eyesight and that it was used medicinally for over 80 ailments of his time. It was said to have been given to Ulysses by Mercury to overcome the spells of Circe and retain his virtue. It was also grown in monastery gardens to help monks stay chaste (maybe because they smelled like tom cats??). The Catholic Church has used rue for centuries. It is thought to be an herb of repentance, an herb of protection against evil, the devil, magic and witchcraft. It was used to sprinkle the holy water before mass. It has been used in charms to ward off evil influences and the evil eye. It was also used in the ..negar of the Four Thieves..o keep from getting the plague when they robbed plague victims. So, it is said to have the ability to ward off pestilence, plague, vermin, and germs. Rue was placed near judges before prisoners arrived to protect them against disease. Rue is also said to be a great antidote for poison. Rue was also said to have been used by King Mithridates VI of Asia Minor, who ate increasing doses of the herb to protect himself against any enemies who might try to poison him. But it worked so well that when he later attempted suicide by poisoning he failed and had to talk one of his slaves into stabbing him. It was also part of Mithridate, an all-purpose poison antidote of the Greek. Rue was used by the British to flavor wine. Rue was said to give the ..cond sight..nd Da Vinci and Michelangelo both credited Rue for improving their metaphysical powers, eyesight and creating vision. Rue is said to have been the inspiration for the ..ub..n the deck of playing cards. Also, it is said that Rue grows best if the plant has been stolen and only thrives in a garden where the mistress is master of the house.

Cautions/Side Effects: Because of its uterine stimulating abilities, do not use it if pregnant. Large doses can be toxic. Rue can also cause severe allergic skin reactions in sensitive people, so wear gloves. The oil on the leaves can also cause photosensitivity in some resulting in severe blistering. So, handle with caution. Don.?use with kidney or liver insufficiency.

Preparation/Dosage: Fresh, infusion, tincture, dried sprigs, compress, poultice. Chew fresh leaf to relieve tension headaches and palpitations. Always start with small doses and because of the ketones and alkaloids, don.?take for long term.

Recipe: Infuse with lovage and mint for a poultry marinade. Use bruised Rue in cold beer on a snakebite, and drink the beer too. Place sprigs in the closet to ward off moths.

The Vinegar of the Four Thieves –

  • 2 quarts of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lavender
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons sage
  • 2 tablespoons wormwood
  • 2 tablespoons rue
  • 2 tablespoons mint

Combine dried herbs and vinegar in a one-gallon jar with lid, and let sit for 6 weeks, shaking daily. Then strain out the herbs. Stored in a cool place, like the refrigerator, or it can be preserved by canning. Don.?forget to date and label it. Put it in spray bottles to use as a household sanitizer.

Bibliography:

  • Bremnes, L. 1988. The Complete Book of Herbs. Penguin Group, New York.
  • Buchman, D. 1979. Herbal Medicine. Random House, New York.
  • Cunningham, S. 2000. Magical Herbalism. Llewellyn Publications, Minnesota.
  • Element, Shaftesbury. Magic and Medicine of Plants. 1990. Reader.?Digest Association, New York.
  • Graves, G. Medicinal Plants. 1990. Crown Publishers, New York.
  • Herbs and Herb Lore of Colonial America. 1995. Dover Publications, New York.
  • Hoffman, D. 1990. The New Holistic Herbal. Second Edition.
  • Holmes, P. 1998. The Energetics of Western Herbs, Vol 1. Snow Lotus Press, Colorado.
  • McVicar, J. 1994. The Complete Herb Book. Kyle Cathie Limited, London.
  • Meyer, J. 1918. The Herbalist. Meyerbooks, Illinois.
  • Onstad, D. 1996. Whole Foods Companion. Chelsea Green Publishing, Vermont.
  • Skenderi, G. 2003. Herbal Vade Mecum. Herbacy Press, New Jersey.
  • Weed, S. 1986. Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Ashe Tree Publishing, New York.
  • Westland, P. 1991. The Herb Handbook. Quintet Publishing, New York.

3 thoughts on “Weekly Herb Review #12 – Rue

  1. Great info…my 9yo girlie told me that the Rue is used to ward off fairies so she asked me not to plant it in the garden..lol

  2. I was outside water the few herbs I have, and noticed that I have some Rue planted! I’d completely forgotten! Then I remembered your herb review! Lots of great info! Funny how everything works out!

  3. Jamie, I was thinking about how Rue was used in the past by the Catholics and I wonder how it was used before that time. Was it also an herbs that warded off dark magic, or did it become known as this after it became a common herb of the catholics? Hmmm…

    Christine, is the Rue dormant, or is it leafing out?? Cool! I definitely want some once we find land!

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