Scientific Name: Ruta graveolens
Rue, also called Wynruit in Afrikaans, Lengana in Tswana and Mohlonyane in Sotho, is a small, hardy, evergreen shrub.
It bears small, yellow, waxy flowers and has attractive pale green-blue leaves with an unusual musky scent.
To the Greeks and the Romans Rue was considered the herb of grace, and all brides traditionally carried a sprig of Rue in their wedding bouquet.
The Renaissance painters in Europe are reputed to have consumed large quantities of Rue tea to restore failing eyesight.
It is said that Rue was one of the ancient strewing herbs. "A favourite Arab herb, the only one to be blessed by Mohammed" (rev. The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices, A. Clevely, 2004.)
Leaves can be used fresh, or can be dried (out of the sun), for medicinal use
Over the ages Rue was considered to be a whole medicinal chest on its own and it was, and still is, a very popular herb amongst the rural communities, both Black and White, in South Africa.
Leaf infusions are taken for a wide range of ailments, including
- menstrual disorders - it will start delayed periods
- Circulatory disorders and high blood pressure
- Intestinal colic, spasms, lost of appetite, dyspeptic complaints
- Nerve tonic - helps for anxiety, convulsions and fits in children, epilepsy and hysteria
- Will ease arthritis and rheumatism
- Chest, Nose and throat problems: bronchitis, colds, flu, whooping cough and fever
Alcoholic tinctures are taken for respiratory problems and heart palpitation
Bruised leaves may be placed on a tooth and in the ears to alleviate pain
Cold compress applied to the temples, relieves nervous headaches.
Decoction can be taken to ease childbirth. Rue should be used with prudence, especially during pregnancy as it is a uterine stimulant. It is abortive if taken in high doses.
Always consult someone with herbal knowledge before self medicating for internal use.
I would like to recommend the following method for a herbal tea infusion as written by Margie Frayne in her book Help yourself to Health - A guide for home health using healing herbs and good nutrition, 2005:
1 teaspoon dried herbs or 3 teaspoons fresh herbs
1 cup boiling water
Place the herbs in a container with a lid. Pour the boiling (just of the boil) water over the herbs. Cover and stand for 5-15 minutes. Strain. Add sugar or honey if necessary. Use as a drink, taking 1, 2 or 3 cups daily, hot or cold (per advice of the doctor or herbalist)Make enough for one day only. Do not stand overnight to use the next day.
This method of making an infusion can be used to make a tea from the areal parts of a herb (leaf; flower; stem) or a mixture of these, but not when using the roots of a herb.
For external use Rue can be used to treat bites, stings, sores, wounds, aching arthritic joints and muscles.
I can recommend the following popular Boereraat (South African home remedy):Take a glass container, fill it up with Rue and top it up with Methylated spirits or an inixpensive cane or vodca. Screw the lid on and put it out in the sun daily. Shake the bottle regularly. It will be ready for use when the herb turns white and the liquid deepens in colour. Apply daily to the effective area.