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Ruta Graveolens


Ruta Graveolens


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Rue, Common rue, Herb of Grace, Ruda, Herbygrass, Rue officinale, Garden rue, German rue.


Common rue has been used throughout history for medicinal purposes.[1] Its use in ancient Greece was not only as a medicine, but also an herb to cast off spells, protect one from witchcraft and evil.  Its traditional use in South America was that of emmenogue and abortifacient.[2] Use of the herb requires knowledge of its applications and dosage levels as it can be toxic in higher doses. It remains an important herb used by traditional healers in South Africa.[3]

Common rue is an evergreen shrub that grows up to one meter 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 odor.

Origin / Habitat

R. graveolens is native to southern Europe and northern 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.[4]

Chemical Constituents

Glycosides (example: rutin)
Quinoline alkaloids
Acridone alkaloids
Furanocoumarins (psoralen, bergapten, xanthotoxin, isopimpinellin, imperatorin)
Alcohols (methyl-ethyl-carbinol, pinene, limenenes) [6],[7],[8],[9],[10]

Plant Part Used

Roots, aerial parts.

Medicinal Uses


In homeopathic form:
Pain and inflammation
As crude raw herb:
Rheumatic complaints
Irregular menstruation

Most Frequently Reported Uses

In homeopathic form:
Pain and inflammation
As crude raw herb:


Dosage Range

Tea: 1 – 2 teaspoons of dried herb in boiling water one to three times per day.
Crude dried herb:  0.5-1.0gm dried herb one to three times per day.[5]
Homeopathic:   6X to 30X


Most Common Dosage

No documentation


Standardized to

No documentation



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.[11] The 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.[12] The 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.[13]

The traditional use of Common rue 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.[14] R. graveolens also contains some antioxidants.[15] 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.[16],[17]

Thentimicrobial activity of various preparations including the essential oil [18] of common rue has been demonstrated in several studies.[19],[20] In one of these studies, a chemical constituent of R. graveolens , rutacridone epoxides, was found to be more effective than ethacridine lactate.[21] Other studies have demonstrated activity against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria, fungi and Trichomonas vaginalis.[22],[23],[24]

The additional pre-clinical studies have examined the anti-arythmic properties of R. graveolens.[25]; the cytotoxic properties of R. graveolens;[26],[27] its 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.[31],[32],[33]


There are no clinical studies on R. graveolens.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

There are no reported instances of interactions with prescription medications partly because R. graveolens is more often found as a homeopathic preparation.  However, its action is not fully understood and it should therefore not be used in combination with any drug therapy.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

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.[34]

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

R. graveolens causes phytophotodermatitis exhibiting skin lesions within 6 hours to two days afteruse.  Direct contact with the plant has resulted in severe allergic reactions that mimic burns.[38],[39],[40]


R. graveolens is an abortifacient and, in some cultures is still used to induce abortion.[35]  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.[36]

Age limitation

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.[37]

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Read More

  1) Native American Herbs

  2) South Africa Herbs


  1. Pollio A, De Natale A, Appetiti E, Aliotta G, Touwaide A.Continuity and change in the Mediterranean medical tradition: Ruta spp. (rutaceae) in Hippocratic medicine and present practices. J Ethnopharmacol. 28Mar2008;116(3):469-482.
  2. Conway GA, Slocumb JC.Plants used as abortifacients and emmenagogues by Spanish New Mexicans. J Ethnopharmacol. Oct1979;1(3):241-261.
  3. Thring TS, Weitz FM. Medicinal plant use in the Bredasdorp/Elim region of the Southern Overberg in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. J Ethnopharmacol. 16Jan2006;103(2):261-275.
  4. Barceloux DG. Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances. NJ:Wiley & Sons; 2008.581.
  5. Barceloux DG. Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances. NJ:Wiley & Sons; 2008.582.
  6. International Program on Chemical Safety Website.  Available from: [Accessed on 12th August 2009.]
  7. Ekiert H, Czygan FC.Accumulation of biologically active furanocoumarins in agitated cultures of Ruta graveolens L. and Ruta graveolens ssp. divaricata (Tenore) Gams. Pharmazie. Aug2005;60(8):623-626.
  8. 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). Jan2006;54(1):9-13.
  9. 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. Oct2008;51(Pt 2):91-96.
  10. Chen CC, Huang YL, Huang FI, Wang CW, Ou JC.Water-soluble glycosides from Ruta graveolens. J Nat Prod. Jul2001;64(7):990-992.
  11. 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. Jul1987;2(4):271-273.
  12. Paulini H, Schimmer O.Mutagenicity testing of rutacridone epoxide and rutacridone, alkaloids in Ruta graveolens L., using the Salmonella/microsome assay. Mutagenesis. Jan1989;4(1):45-50.
  13. 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-Dec2008;9(4):763-769.
  14. 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.
  15. Adam M, Dobiás P, Eisner A, Ventura K.Extraction of antioxidants from plants using ultrasonic methods and their antioxidant capacity. J Sep Sci. Jan2009;32(2):288-294.
  16. 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. 29Mar2007;560(1):69-80.
  17. Raghav SK, Gupta B, Agrawal C, Goswami K, Das HR.Anti-inflammatory effect of Ruta graveolens L. in murine macrophage cells. J Ethnopharmacol. 8Mar2006;104(1-2):234-239.
  18. Nogueira JC, Diniz Mde F, Lima EO.In vitro antimicrobial activity of plants in Acute Otitis Externa. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol. Jan-Feb2008;74(1):118-124.
  19. 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. Nov2000;73(1-2):299-305.
  20. Alzoreky NS, Nakahara K.Antibacterial activity of extracts from some edible plants commonly consumed in Asia. Int J Food Microbiol. 15Feb2003;80(3):223-230.
  21. Wolters B, Eilert U.Antimicrobial Substances in Callus Cultures of Ruta graveolens*. Planta Med. Oct 1981;43(10):166-174..
  22. 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. 12Feb2003;51(4):890-896.
  23. 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.
  24. Alzoreky NS, Nakahara K.Antibacterial activity of extracts from some edible plants commonly consumed in Asia. Int J Food Microbiol. 15Feb2003;80(3):223-230.
  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. Apr1996;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. Jan2007;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. 28Oct2008;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. Dec2005;26(6):823-829.
  30. Atta AH, Alkofahi A.Anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of some Jordanian medicinal plant extracts. J Ethnopharmacol. Mar1998;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. Oct2003;23(4):975-982.
  32. Preethi KC, Kuttan G, Kuttan R.Anti-tumour activity of Ruta graveolens extract. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. Jul-Sep2006;7(3):439-443.
  33. 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. Jan2007;73(1):41-48.
  34. 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. Dec2005;26(6):823-829.
  35. Ciganda C, Laborde A Herbal infusions used for induced abortion. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2003;41(3):235-239.
  36. Goncolo S, Correia C, Couto, J. Contact and photo contact dermatitis from Ruta Chalepensis. Con Derm: 1989; 21: 200.
  37. Seak CJ, Lin CC.Ruta Graveolens intoxication. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2007;45(2):173-175.
  38. Eickhorst K, DeLeo V, Csaposs J.Rue the herb: Ruta graveolens--associated phytophototoxicity. Dermatitis. Mar2007;18(1):52-55.
  39. Gawkrodger D, Savin J. Phytophotodermatitis due to Common Rue (R. graveolens)Con Derm. 1995; 22;63.
  40. Furniss D, Adams T.Herb of grace: an unusual cause of phytophotodermatitis mimicking burn injury. J Burn Care Res. Sep-Oct2007;28(5):767-769.

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