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Goat's rue, or French lilac, is a plant that is used in various herbal medicines. It was first used to increase lactation in humans and animals. In recent years, scientific research has found that goat's rue may be effective in treating diabetes. It may also work as a natural weight-loss aid.
The plant is native to Europe and western Asia. It grows up to 5 feet (1.5 m) tall and prefers low-lying, moist soil. Sheep, goats, and cattle have died from eating the stems and leaves of the plant. Although most of the plant is poisonous, the flowers and seeds are safe for consumption and have been used in various medicines for hundreds of years.
These flowers appear similar to flowers in the pea family. They vary from white to lilac in color. The plant blooms from June to August.
Galega officialis is the scientific name for goat's rue. In Greek, galega means to bring on milk. The herb is named for its enhancement of milk production in humans and animals. It has been used for this purpose for hundreds of years.
Researchers in Europe and the United States have found evidence that goat's rue may help treat diabetes. Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not make enough insulin or because the body does not respond properly to the insulin that is produced. This leads to excess sugar in the bloodstream. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to poor blood circulation, nerve damage, or kidney failure. Extreme cases can cause death.
Type II diabetes is usually treated with drugs. Goat's rue may be able to serve the same purpose with fewer side effects to the patient. The plant contains a chemical called galegin that is similar to a chemical called guanidine, used in many diabetes drugs. Drugs with guanidine can cause vomiting and diarrhea, stomach pain, and loss of appetite. In most cases, goat's rue does not induce these side effects.
Not only does goat's rue cause fewer side effects than standard diabetes medicines, but it may also help prevent some common diabetes complications. Studies have shown that the herb reduces the risk of cataracts and other eye problems. It also helps prevent kidney damage, which is a common and life-threatening side effect of severe diabetes.
Studies by researchers in England have shown that goat's rue may be an effective weight-loss aid. Mice in one study lost a significant amount of body fat. Once returned to a normal diet without the herb, the mice did not gain back the weight they had lost.