Rue is an herb that grows as a bushy evergreen shrub. There are many species, and some have been thoroughly studied for their health benefits.

Rue has been used since ancient Greece, appearing in the Bible with the nickname "herb of grace" because it was once used to keep away witches. Rue has a long history of medicinal use, and studies show that it may play a part in preventative and curative treatments in the future.

Antioxidant Activity

Researchers believe that oxidative stress from free radicals causes many conditions, from cancer to cardiovascular disease. Antioxidants combat this damaging process, and many types of rue have antioxidant activity. One study looked at two types of rue, Ruta chapensis and Ruta montana. Results show that not only do these types act as effective antioxidants, but they also maintain their antioxidant activity even after being in a synthetic digestive juice. This indicates that their extracts are potent and may hold potential as future treatments.

ruta graveolens herb with flowers


Antimicrobial Activity

Studies indicate that rue may act as a powerful antimicrobial. Essential oil from Ruta chalepensis showed antibacterial activity against a variety of bacteria, including E. coli and MRSA, while another study demonstrated that Ruta graveolens could be an effective antifungal against common strains of Candida.

petri dish in gloved medical hand with microbial activity



Multiple studies have looked at the anti-inflammatory properties of various types of rue, and results show that the herb is very effective, possibly due to its antioxidant qualities. One study examined the effects of Ruta graveolens and found it acted as an effective anti-inflammatory while also contributing to pain and fever relief.

close up of person holding their knee; illustration of inflamed joint


Memory, Learning, and Mood

In a study done on rats an extract of Ruta graveolens increased the antioxidant capacity in the brain and blood. Researchers suggest that this could prevent oxidative stress in the brain and likely enhance memory and learning capabilities and alleviate symptoms of depression. While these results are promising, more research is needed.

older person hands placing brain puzzle piece


Brain Cancer

Glioblastoma multiforme is a highly aggressive brain cancer with a poor prognosis, and researchers think rue may be an effective therapy. One study done with rats showed that Ruta graveolens exhibited antitumor activity on human glioma cells, indicating it may be a possible treatment for brain cancer in the future, though more research is necessary.


Neurodegenerative Diseases

Rue may be useful in treating neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, and Huntington's. One review looked at studies on various types of rue from 1999 to 2020. The details suggest the powerful anti-inflammatory effects of the plant could counter the inflammation in people with these conditions, possibly restoring neural function.

doctor reviewing MRI brain scans


Blood Pressure

One study showed that rue may have some antihypertensive effects on the heart. Rue relaxed artery strips in the tails of the rat subjects, likely because of its effects on the smooth muscle. When researchers combined rue with kelp, it had a direct effect on the cardiovascular system. These results show that rue might be even more effective when used with other herbs.

close up of person checking blood pressure with cuff


Colon Cancer Prevention

Ruta Chalepensis may be effective at preventing colon cancer. One study found that this variety of rue has a protective effect in people with early-stage colon cancer, though it did not have the same results in a group with advanced colon cancer.

Researchers believe that these results come from the antioxidative effects of rue and that it may be useful in preventing cancer or slowing the progression in the early stages.



People have used plant essential oils as pesticides for centuries, and rue is an effective option. The essential oils can combat German cockroaches and mosquitoes, killing 100 percent of both at a concentration of 1.6 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

These results demonstrate that rue is an effective natural alternative to chemical insecticides.

dead bug superimposed on countertop


Toxicity and Side Effects

Little is known about the toxicity and safe dosage of rue essential oils. Rue was once used as an abortifacient — to terminate a pregnancy — and should be avoided by people who are pregnant.

A study on zebrafish showed that rue disrupted the endocrine system, including reproductive hormones, in the fish. While researchers have not thoroughly studied these effects on humans, take caution if you are planning to use rue as a home remedy. Most of the potential benefits above speak to future pharmaceutical and medical use, not home treatment.


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