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Ruta Graveolens


Ruta Graveolens


No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Aourmi, Issin, Zent, Issel, Dje, Rue, Common rue, Herb of Grace, Ruda, Herbygrass, Rue officinale, Garden rue, German rue.


Ruta Graveolens is an evergreen shrub that grows up to one metre tall, with ramified stems and grey/green leaves. The plant flowers in the spring and produces small, lobulate fruits. The plant is known for its offensive odour.

Origin / Habitat

R. Graveolens is native to southern Europe and parts of Africa. It is now found in temperate and tropical parts of the world including South America and North America where it was introduced from Europe in the 1500’s [1].

Chemical Constituents

Glycosides (eg…rutin), quinoline alkaloids, acridone alkaloids, furanocoumarins (psoralen, bergapten, xanthotoxin, isopimpinellin, imperatorin); tannins, sterols.

Alcohols (methyl-ethyl-carbinol, pinene, limenenes) [2][3][4][5][6].

Plant Part Used

Roots, aerial parts, leaves [8][9][10][11].

Traditional Use

R. Graveolens has been used traditionally in South African medicine for a variety of applications and, along with Artemesia afra is considered one of the most popular herbs in South Africa [7].

Typically the leaves of R. Graveolens are used for their medicinal properties. Leaf infusions and decoctions have been used in order to promote respiratory health. Alcoholic infusions have been used as well as leaf infusions in order to treat respiratory maladies [8]. Similar alcoholic infusions have been used to ease symptoms of poor cardiac health [9]. In cases of fever, and often hysterical fever, either a leaf decoction [9] or a decoction of leaves and stem is drunk [10]. Similarly, Leaf infusions have been used for epilepsy and hysteria [11].

R. Graveolens has also been used externally for a variety of reasons, though usually as an analgesic or inflammatory. In cases of earache or toothache, fresh leaves are bruised and placed directly on the affected area [8]. In order to treat various swelling, a poultice made of crushed fruit is applied [9].



Various extracts of R. Graveolens and/or the active constituents have demonstrated mutagenic activity.  One study examining the mutagenic activity against Salmonella typhimurium strain TA98 determined that there were various mechanisms involved including but not limited to the furoquinolines [12]. Additional examination of activity against strains of S. typhimurium demonstrated that the alkaloid rutacridone is metabolized by rat liver enzymes into rutacridone epoxide, which exhibits stronger mutagenic action [13]. Additional animal models have examined both a Ruta extract and a homeopathic preparation and found that administration of both resulted in chromosomal aberrations in bone marrow cells [14].

Traditional use of R. Graveolens as an anti-inflammatory has been verified in animal models. In adjuvant arthritis in rats, a dose of 20mg/kg demonstrated a reduction in oedema within a three week period and comparable to indomethacin. This model also demonstrated an increase in measured anti-oxidant status in rats receiving the methanol extract of R. Graveolens demonstrated by an increase in activity of Vitamins C and E and reduce glutathione [15]. R. Graveolens also contains some antioxidants [16]. Another investigation into the anti-inflammatory properties of R. Graveolens found that a methanol extract of the whole plant at 50% concentration was found to inhibit the expression of iNOS and the COX-2 gene in a lipopolysaccharide induced inflammatory cell model [17][18].

Antimicrobial activity of various preparations including the essential oil [19] of R. Graveolens has been demonstrated in several studies [19][20]. In one of these studies, a chemical constituent of Aourmi, rutacridone epoxides, was found to be more effective than ethacridine lactate [22]. Other studies have demonstrated activity against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria, fungi [23] and Trichomonas vaginalis [21][24].

Additional pre-clinical studies have examined the anti-arythmic properties of Aourmi [25]; the cytotoxic properties of Aourmi [26][27]; it’s possible action as an MAO inhibitor [28]; as a possible male contraceptive [29]; and as an analgesic [30]. There have also been investigations into its use as a chemotherapeutic agent, but these findings have not been clinically evaluated [27][31][32].


No documentation.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

No documentation.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Large doses of R. Graveolens may cause excessive vomiting and elimination.


R. Graveolens is an abortifacient and, in some cultures is still used to induce abortion [33].  Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women, or by those planning on becoming pregnant. There have been case reports of post-abortion sepsis in a related Ruta species [34].

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

R. Graveolens causes phytophotodermatitis [35] exhibiting skin lesions within 6 hours to two days after use [36]. Direct contact with the plant has resulted in severe allergic reactions that mimic burns [37].

R. Graveolens has been found in pre-clinical studies to have anti-androgenic effects in male rats, reducing sperm motility and size of testicular ducts [29].

While animal models have indicated that use of the herb does not compromise nutrition or kidney function, a case report of an older woman who ingested the herb indicated renal failure linked to use of the herb [38].

Read More

  1) Western Herb

  2) Native American Herbs



  1. Barceloux DG. Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances. NJ: Wiley & Sons; 2008:581.
  2. International Program on Chemical Safety Website. Available from: [Accessed on August 12, 2009].
  3. Ekiert H, Czygan FC. Accumulation of biologically active furanocoumarins in agitated cultures of Ruta graveolens L. and Ruta graveolens ssp. divaricata (Tenore) Gams. Pharmazie. Aug. 2005;60(8):623-626.
  4. Pirouzpanah S, Rashidi MR, Delazar A, Razavieh SV, Hamidi A. Inhibitory effects of Ruta graveolens L. extract on guinea pig liver aldehyde oxidase. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). Jan. 2006;54(1):9-13.
  5. Orlita A, Sidwa-Gorycka M, Paszkiewicz M, Malinski E, Kumirska J, Siedlecka EM, Łojkowska E, Stepnowski P. Application of chitin and chitosan as elicitors of coumarins and fluoroquinolone alkaloids in Ruta graveolens L. (common rue). Biotechnol Appl Biochem. Oct. 2008;51(Pt 2):91-96
  6. Chen CC, Huang YL, Huang FI, Wang CW, Ou JC. Water-soluble glycosides from Ruta graveolens. J Nat Prod. Jul. 2001;64(7):990-992.
  7. Thring TS, Weitz FM. Medicinal plant use in the Bredasdorp/Elim region of the Southern Overberg in the Western Cape Provinc e of South Africa. J Ethnopharmacol. Jan. 16, 2006;103(2):261-275.
  8. Van Wyk BE, Van Oudtshoorn B, Gericke N.  Medicinal Plants of South Africa.  Pretoria, South Africa: Briza Publications; 1997;220.
  9. Neuwinger HD. African Traditional Medicine: A Dictionary of Plant Use and Applications. Stuttgart, Germany: Medpharm Gmbh Scientific Publishers; 2000;449.
  10. Iwu, Maurice. Handbook of African Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1993.
  11. Watt JM.  “African Plants potentially useful in Mental Health”. Lloydia. 1967;30:1-22.
  12. Paulini H, Eilert U, Schimmer O. Mutagenic compounds in an extract from rutae herba (Ruta  graveolens L.). I. Mutagenicity is partially caused by furoquinoline alkaloids. Mutagenesis. Jul. 1987;2(4):271-273.
  13. Paulini H, Schimmer O. Mutagenicity testing of rutacridone epoxide and rutacridone, alkaloids in Ruta graveolens L., using the Salmonella/microsome assay. Mutagenesis. Jan. 1989;4(1):45-50.
  14. Preethi KC, Nair CK, Kuttan R. Clastogenic potential of Ruta graveolens extract and a homeopathic preparation in mouse bone marrow cells. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. Oct.-Dec. 2008;9(4):763-769.
  15. Ratheesh M, Shyni GL, Helen A. Methanolic extract of Ruta graveolens L. inhibits inflammation and oxidative stress in adjuvant induced model of arthritis in rats. Inflammopharmacology. Apr. 2009;17(2):100-105.
  16. Adam M, Dobiás P, Eisner A, Ventura K. Extraction of antioxidants from plants using ultrasonic methods and their antioxidant capacity. J Sep Sci. Jan. 2009;32(2):288-294.
  17. Raghav SK, Gupta B, Shrivastava A, Das HR. Inhibition of lipopolysaccharide-inducible nitric oxide synthase and IL-1beta through suppression of NF-kappaB activation by 3-(1'-1'-dimethyl-allyl)-6-hydroxy-7-methoxy-coumarin isolated from Ruta graveolens L. .Eur J Pharmacol. Mar. 29, 2007;560(1):69-80.
  18. Raghav SK, Gupta B, Agrawal C, Goswami K, Das HR. Anti-inflammatory effect of Ruta graveolens L. in murine macrophage cells. J Ethnopharmacol. Mar. 8, 2006;104(1-2):234-239.
  19. Nogueira JC, Diniz Mde F, Lima EO. In vitro antimicrobial activity of plants in Acute Otitis Externa. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol. Jan-Feb. 2008;74(1):118-124.
  20. Ojala T, Remes S, Haansuu P, Vuorela H, Hiltunen R, Haahtela K, Vuorela P. Antimicrobial activity of some coumarin containing herbal plants growing in Finland. J Ethnopharmacol. Nov. 2000;73(1-2):299-305.
  21. Alzoreky NS, Nakahara K. Antibacterial activity of extracts from some edible plants commonly consumed in Asia. Int J Food Microbiol. Feb. 15, 2003 ;80(3):223-230.
  22. Wolters B, Eilert U. Antimicrobial Substances in Callus Cultures of Ruta graveolens*. Planta Med. Oct. 1981;43(10):166-174.
  23. Oliva A, Meepagala KM, Wedge DE, Harries D, Hale AL, Aliotta G, Duke SO.Natural fungicides from Ruta graveolens L. leaves, including a new quinolone alkaloid. J Agric Food Chem. Feb. 12, 2003;51(4):890-896.
  24. Al-Heali FM, Rahemo Z. The combined effect of two aqueous extracts on the growth of Trichomonas vaginalis, in vitro. Turkiye Parazitol Derg. 2006;30(4):272-274.
  25. Khori V, Nayebpour M, Semnani S, Golalipour MJ, Marjani A. Prolongation of AV nodal refractoriness by Ruta graveolens in isolated rat hearts. Potential role as an anti-arrhythmic agent. Saudi Med J. Mar. 2008;29(3):357-363.
  26. Trovato A, Monforte MT, Rossitto A, Forestieri AM. In vitro cytotoxic effect of some medicinal plants containing flavonoids. Boll Chim Farm. Apr. 1996;135(4):263-266.
  27. Réthy B, Zupkó I, Minorics R, Hohmann J, Ocsovszki I, Falkay G. Investigation of cytotoxic activity on human cancer cell lines of arborinine and furanoacridones isolated from Ruta graveolens. Planta Med. Jan. 2007;73(1):41-48.
  28. Stafford GI, Pedersen ME, van Staden J, Jäger AK. Review on plants with CNS-effects used in traditional South African medicine against mental diseases. J Ethnopharmacol. Oct. 28, 2008;119(3):513-537.
  29. Khouri NA, El-Akawi Z. Antiandrogenic activity of Ruta graveolens L in male Albino rats with emphasis on sexual and aggressive behavior. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. Dec. 2005;26(6):823-829.
  30. Atta AH, Alkofahi A. Anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of some Jordanian medicinal plant extracts. J Ethnopharmacol. Mar. 1998;60(2):117-124.
  31. Pathak S, Multani AS, Banerji P, Banerji P. Ruta 6 selectively induces cell death in brain cancer cells but proliferation in normal peripheral blood lymphocytes: A novel treatment for human brain cancer. Int J Oncol. Oct. 2003;23(4):975-982.\
  32. Preethi KC, Kuttan G, Kuttan R. Anti-tumour activity of Ruta graveolens extract. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. Jul-Sep. 2006;7(3):439-443.
  33. Ciganda C, Laborde A. Herbal infusions used for induced abortion. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2003;41(3):235-239.
  34. Goncolo S, Correia C, Couto, J. Contact and photo contact dermatitis from Ruta Chalepensis. Con Derm.V.21, 1989:200.
  35. Eickhorst K, DeLeo V, Csaposs J. Rue the herb: Ruta graveolens--associated phytophototoxicity. Dermatitis. Mar. 2007;18(1):52-55.
  36. Gawkrodger D, Savin J. Phytophotodermatitis due to Common Rue (R. graveolens)Con Derm. 995;22;63.
  37. Furniss D, Adams T. Herb of grace: an unusual cause of phytophotodermatitis mimicking burn injury. J Burn Care Res. Sep-Oct. 2007;28(5):767-769.
  38. Seak CJ, Lin CC. Ruta graveolens intoxication. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2007;45(2):173-175.

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