Rue is a perennial shrub that has been used to treat ailments like menstrual disorders and spasms thanks to its medicinal properties.

Quick Facts
General Information
  • Common name(s)Rue
  • Scientific nameRuta graveolens
  • Plant typeShrub
  • Native regionSouthern Europe
  • Main Economic UseMedicinal

Rue is not a well-known herb, but it possesses many nutritional and medicinal benefits. It is native to southern Europe, specifically the Mediterranean region. It was brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Rue was supposedly used in ancient Greece and Egypt to stimulate menstrual bleeding, induce abortion, and improve eyesight. It was also supposedly used in the Middle Ages to ward off witchcraft, hexes, and spells, and it was believed to give psychic powers to those who used it. Today, rue is mostly used as an ornamental garden plant, but is still sometimes used as a culinary spice or an herbal remedy for epileptic spasms, menstrual pains, and intestinal disorders.

Medicinal and Nutritional Information

Quick Facts (Medicinal and Nutritional Information)
  • Medicinal actionAntispasmodic
  • Key constituentsRutin
  • Ways to useLiquid extracts, Food
  • Medicinal rating(1) Very minor uses
  • Safety rankingUse with caution

Health Benefits of Rue

The antispasmodic, analgesic, and diuretic characteristics of rue have given this herb recognition for its traditional medicinal uses:

  • Relieving inflammatory pain
  • Treating epileptic spasms
  • Soothing skin diseases
  • Treating high blood pressure and heart palpitations

How It Works

Rue has several nutritional qualities, including the flavonoid called rutin, which supports and strengthens the inner lining of blood vessels. Rue also contains alkaloids, vitamin K, and volatile oil. It is anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, analgesic, diuretic, and stimulating in nature. Rue is a well-known capillary protectant, and can been used as a tonic to treat menstrual disorders because it stimulates the muscles of the uterus and promotes menstrual blood flow. It also helps alleviate some of the menstrual pain. Rue also seems to lower blood pressure, and there is evidence supporting its use against eye problems.


How to Consume Rue

Main preparations: Dried, extract

Although rue is not as popular as it once was, it still provides medicinal qualities, as well as flavoring to bland culinary dishes. Consuming rue is possible by buying dried rue and using it as a spice or using rue extract to treat various maladies.

Rue Side Effects

It should be noted that rue can be toxic if taken in high doses, so it is important to first check with a practitioner before taking it. Pregnant women should not ingest rue.

Culinary Information

Although it has declined in popularity in the culinary world, rue is still sometimes used in Ethiopian, Greek, and Italian cuisine. It is very bitter to taste, so it is usually added to sauces for flavoring. Italians traditionally ate it in their salads for good eyesight, and rue leaves were used to flavor Italian grape liqueur, grappa.


Other Uses

Rue extract is used for fragrances, soaps and cosmetics. Rue is also a common used ornamental plant for gardening because of its unusual blue-gray colored leaves and bright yellow flowers.


Quick Facts (Buying)
  • Where to buySpecialized health stores, Online herb stores

Small bundles of fresh rue are commonly sold by herbal vendors. Rue can also be found dried and sold as a spice in some specialty grocery stores. Raw and dried rue is not readily available at most regular markets; however, it may be found at some herbal vendors and specialty grocery stores. Rue extract is sold online and by some herbal retailers. It is important to read the proper dosage of rue extract because it can be toxic in high doses.

Plant Biology


Rue, or Ruta graveolens, is part of the Rutaceae family. Rue is a woody, perennial shrub with a strong aroma that grows about three feet (1 m) in height. It has bluish-gray leaves with small, yellow flowers. The botanical genus, Ruta, is derived from the Greek word reuo, which means "to set free," because the herb was thought to be effective in treating diseases.

Related Species

A closely-related species, Ruta chalepenis, is also native to the Mediterranean region, and can be used to get rid of worms, promote menstrual flow, and soothe sore eyes.


Quick Facts (Growing)
  • Life cyclePerennial
  • Light requirementsFull sun
  • Growing habitatEverywhere except tundra
  • Plant spacing average0.5 m (1.64 ft)

Rue grows almost anywhere, but requires full sun and dry conditions. It can grow in a variety of soil types, but does best in well-drained soil. However, it can even do well in rocky, dry soil with scarce watering and no external fertilization. It can be propagated through both seeds and cuttings, and will require as little as 1.6 feet (0.5 m) of space between plants. A rue plantation will provide optimum yields for up to ten years before foliage production begins to diminish. It is recommended to wear gloves when handling rue, because its sap often causes rashes and skin irritation.

Additional Information

Quick Facts (Additional Information)
  • Other usesCosmetics

Economic Data

While rue is not the most well-known herb, it is produced and purchased for various reasons. Rue is used as a culinary additive for flavoring, as an ornamental garden plant, and for its essential oils. Rue is easily grown worldwide, so no significant industry has been developed for profit.