What is Rue Oil?

Article Details
  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 30 January 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
MIT awards "Pirate Certificates" to students who complete PE classes in archery, fencing, shooting, and sailing.  more...

February 19 ,  1945 :  The US Marines landed on Iwo Jima.  more...

A home herbal remedy, rue oil is used for various gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and other body system ailments. Known for its strong, bitter aroma, rue is a toxic yet effective insect repellent. The essential oil, also used in recipes and cosmetics, has a rich history of folklore and superstitious use.

Rue oil, also known as ruta graveolens, garden rue, or herbygrass, is used in perfume oils and other cosmetics. Herbal vinegars, alcohols, and other flavorings are sometimes made from rue. Rue oil is considered an appropriate complement to other herbs, such as wormwood, myrrh, fennel, chamomile, vervain, penny royal, thyme, and bay.

As a medicine, rue oil is used to treat glaucoma, gout, itchy skin, rheumatism, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, warts, and various wounds. Contusions, fainting spells, dry socket, headaches, convulsions, compression wounds, high blood pressure, toothaches, foot pain, anxiety, epilepsy, and stiffness can also be relieved with rue. Over 100 chemicals, including alkaloids and flavanoids, are found within the woody herb.

Other products that may list rue oil as an ingredient include bath oils, air fresheners, soaps, and incense. Light rings, potpourri, and laundry soap can also be made from rue oil. Spas may utilize the herbal remedy in their services, such as in hair treatments or facial steams.


Traditionally the rue herb was used to cure or prevent poisonings, ward off the plague, aid in abortions, and treat digestive and nervous problems. A symbol of repentance, grace, and memory, it was also thought to protect against evil, witches, and other medieval fears. Since it was believed that rue protected against diseases that criminals carried, it was often scattered within courts of law in Great Britain. Some people used the herb as a recreational drug during this period.

The oil itself should never be taken internally, as it is poisonous. A health care professional should be consulted prior to use. Gloves should be worn when handling the oil at all times. Overdose can cause burning, sun sensitivity, skin irritation, poisoning, or death. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid the oil entirely.

Native to Europe, the perennial rue evergreen shrub has tough, woody branches. The plant features small leaves that are blue-green in color, and during the summer it grows yellow four-petaled flowers. After the flowers bloom, four-lobed capsules featuring the herb develop. Rue can also thrive in other temperate, tropical areas, though it is known to grow on old walls, limestone, and dry hills.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 2

@Almita - As a parent, yes -- you should avoid rue oil. It can cause abortion in pregnant women and is extremely toxic. The amount in cleaning fluids is very small, so just wear cleaning gloves and you'll be fine.

I was looking up essential oil information and it was a surprise to read about rue oil. A website I found listed rue oil uses -- in perfumes, aromatherapy, cleaning supplies and so on.

The one thing that bothered me the most was that it listed rue oil being used in flavoring things and right below it in the paragraph -- it listed how rue oil should never be taken internally. Then why is it in flavoring?

I think half of

everybody's health problems come from what we put in our food. We literally are putting poisons in our food, just because we think it's safe in small amounts. If every company did that with different types of toxins -- exactly how many do we eat everyday?

I think you are absolutely right -- rue oil should be avoided unless you have something it can cure. It has saved a lot of lives.

Post 1

Okay, I find it a little creepy that rue oil is used in so many cleaners. It kills fungi and lots of types of bacteria -- and it's in things we use everyday.

I found information on this oil while looking up aromatherapy and message oils. As a parent, I don't think that it's such a good idea to breath rue oil in aroma therapy -- even in the smallest amount!

Spraying it around the house when cleaning is just as bad. Why in the world is it considered such a wonderful thing if it's so toxic and dangerous?

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?