Rue in history is a plant mentioned in the Bible. Luke 11:42 enunciates the importance of this herb in the Palestinian region, as Jesus refers to a tithe on rue. The Talmud describes rue as a kitchen herb that grows in the wild. Cultivation of this herb began later and took place during the period in which Jesus lived.

And in response to that question that you have posed. The answer is a categorical no. But beware, it can be fatal when ingested in excess.

There is further evidence of the use of rue in history. The Greeks also valued the herb. In his Materia Medica, the Greek physician Dioscorides states: “Boiled with vinegar it easeth pains, is good against the stitch of the side and chest, and shortness of breath upon a cold cause, and also against the pain in the joints and huckle bones … The juice of Rue made hot in the rind of a pomegranate and dropped into the ears, takes away the pain of thereof … That Rue put up in the nostrils stayeth bleeding.” He also describes two kinds of rue: a mountain variety and a strong-smelling garden variety. The garden plant was tithed and cultivated even then. Soranus, a gynecologist in second-century Greece, described it as a potent abortifacient.

The Romans grew rue around their temples to Mars. It was considered sacred to Diana, the moon goddess, and Aradia, purported in legend as her daughter. Roman philosopher and healer Pliny mentions rue 80 times in his work. He states, “when notwithstanding, it is of power rather procures bleeding, through its sharp and biting quality. The leaves of Rue beaten and
drunk with wine are an antidote against poisons, as Pliny saith.” Pliny also reported that, in ancient Rome, painters and engravers used rue to sharpen and preserve their eyesight.

Rue was believed to protect against the plague. People rubbed their floors with fresh rue to repel fleas and used it as an insect repellent for hundreds of years. According to legend, King Mithradates of Asia Minor survived his enemies’ attempts to poison him by eating rue. The Turks kept pots of rue in their drawing rooms for its scent. Early Christians called it the Herb of Grace and used it during exorcisms and before Mass. During the Middle Ages, Christians sprinkled holy water containing a sprig of rue to protect against witchcraft and spells during Sunday mass. The native peoples of North America, Aztecs, and Mayans made extensive use of rue (Vogel, 1970, 78, 413)

Ruta graveolens is the botanical name of rue. This perennial grows to an average height of about one meter and emits an offensive odor. It is native to the Mediterranean and India. The Spanish brought the plant to Latin America, where it dispersed widely in the tropical regions south of Mexico and some temperate parts of North America.

As a culinary herb, rue was used sparingly in ancient Greece but extensively in ancient Rome. Today, rue and its oils are used sparingly in Italian and northern African cuisine as an aperitif in alcoholic beverages and an additive, particularly in Ethiopia. It goes well with acidic flavors and is added to pickles, capers, meats, cheeses, and eggs. In Latin America, rue is added to salad.

Ruta graveolens is the botanical name of rue. Rue leaves contain rutin, an antispasmodic flavonoid. Rutin has a beneficial effect on the circulatory system. It is recommended in the herbal treatment of insomnia, headaches, nervousness, abdominal cramps, and renal trouble. Traditionally, it is regarded as a contraceptive and a well-known emmenagogue. The most frequent use of the plant has been to induce abortion.

The plant may be part of sedative and hypnotic herbal preparations. Since Pollio et al. (2008) discovered that rue could be fatal if ingested, its use as a medicinal and culinary herb has diminished. Significant temporary immobility of spermatozoa without any adverse effects on other sperm characteristics was observed in R. graveolens L. aqueous extract trials conducted on rats. Thus, the plant could potentially be used as a male contraceptive.

You can read more on rue here.

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