10 Amazing Benefits of Rue

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Rue, a bitter Balkan herb, was used extensively by ancient Romans for its potent health benefits and it remains a viable natural remedy to this day.

What is Rue?

Rue, also known as ‘Herb of Grace’, is a native Balkan evergreen shrub with small yellow flowers. It was originally native to the Mediterranean and North African regions but was spread by Roman and British colonialism all over the world. The flowering shrub is a perennial evergreen, which makes it popular for landscaping and hedges. The taste of rue is quite bitter. Although it was very popular in ancient Roman culinary traditions, it has fallen into relative obscurity as a cooking spice. Most people will be familiar with this plant as one of the spices in the Ethiopian spice blend berbere. [1]

Rue Benefits

Rue has many amazing health benefits, including the following:

Close-up of rue flowers on stalks

Pretty rue flowers on their stalks. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

  • Treats Arthritis: Its anti-inflammatory properties help treat arthritis and sore joints.
  • Stimulates Menstruation: Rue has been popular since the 16th century as an emmenagogue, which is a substance used to stimulate menstruation.
  • Treats Menstrual Cramps: It is also an antispasmodic and is prescribed to counter muscle and menstrual cramps.
  • Skin Care: Rue is anti-bacterial in nature and can help promote clearer skin and treat fungal infections.
  • Improves Heart Health: It helps to improve blood circulation by dilating blood vessels and reducing strain on the cardiovascular system. [2]
  • Treats Anxiety: Rue tea is used to calm the nerves, treat anxiety, and promote restful and undisturbed sleep.
  • Induces Numbness: It is used as a sedative because of the mild neurotoxins it contains, which can induce numbness and calm nerve endings.
  • Insect repellent: Rue is commonly used to keep bugs and the associated diseases away. Ancient medicine often employed it as an insecticide and fumigant.
  • Hair Care: The oil is often used for lice treatment or in aromatherapy to promote hair health.
  • Fights Poison: Rue has also been used as a remedy for poison. While it is mildly poisonous itself, it acts as an antidote to other poisons. It is particularly useful on neurotoxins and not hemotoxins. It is still used as an effective anti-venom against snake and insect bites. [3] [4]


Let’s take a look at some of the most popular uses of this herb.

  • Rue is used as a cooking ingredient in North African cuisine
  • It is medicinally taken in tea form
  • Many bug repellent – incense and lotion contain this herb
  • It is also used in beauty and body care products as a fragrance

Side Effects

Other than the list of health benefits that this herb has, it also poses some side effects, which include the following:

  • Rue is highly toxic in large doses and can cause kidney and liver damage, as well as induce vomiting and nausea in small doses [5]
  • This substance should never be applied directly to the skin without a carrier oil

Care must be taken while using this herb and avoid use in case of the following

  • Avoid use during pregnancy as the use of this herb may cause bleeding and complications
  • It is not safe for children
  • People who are on medication for liver or kidney problems, or blood pressure, should also not take this herbal remedy in any form
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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