Can you eat rue?

In this short article, we will answer the question ”Can you eat rue?”. We will also learn about what rue is, what it tastes like, the culinary and medicinal uses of rue, the potential downsides of rue, and the people who should avoid rue. 

Can you eat rue?

Yes, you can eat rue. However, it is advised to eat them in food quantities, which are very small amounts, to reap their benefits. On the other hand, consuming it in large medicinal quantities may produce adverse effects on the body. 

What is rue?

Rue is a type of plant that grows in a variety of environments, and the portions that grow above ground and the oil are commonly used for medicine. Rue is an evergreen perennial plant belonging to the Rutaceae family. 

Rue is a bushy, long-stemmed shrub with lobed, bluish-green, fern-like leaves. The leaves alternate on the tops of the stems sparingly, and the four-lobed seed pods emerge after the plant’s little yellow blossoms fade.

Rue (Ruta graveolens) is a remarkable herb with little yellow flowers that emit a strong, irritating aroma along with its foliage. Ruta is an interesting genus because it belongs to the Rutaceae family, which includes scented citrus trees, while ‘Graveolens’ is the Latin word for “having a strong or disagreeable odour.”

What does rue taste like?

The rue plant has a strong odour that is both toxic and delicious at the same time. It has a pleasant, citrus-like flavour that hides beneath the harshness.

What are the culinary uses of rue?

Ethiopian cuisine makes extensive use of rue herbs in a variety of ways. Some uses include:

  • The rue herb is used in small amounts, most typically single leaves in salads, meat and egg dishes, and paired with soft, spreadable cheeses.
  • In Ethiopia, rue is most widely used to flavour coffee, as sprigs of rue are steeped in coffee to provide a citrus flavour. If it is used in cooking, before presenting a dish, the herb should be removed.
  • The herb can be steeped in a broth or sauce for a few minutes to get rid of the bitterness and get more of the lemony citrus flavour.

What are the medicinal uses of rue?

Rue is used as a treatment for a variety of diseases, despite major safety concerns. Some of the  medicinal applications of rue are:

  • Rue is used to treat digestive issues like nausea, bloating, and diarrhoea. 
  • It is also used to treat heart and circulation issues such as pounding heart or heart palpitations and “artery hardening,” also known as arteriosclerosis. 
  • Rue is used by some people to treat respiratory difficulties such as pain and coughing caused by lung swelling (pleurisy).
  • Rue is also used for headaches, arthritis, cramps, and muscle spasms.
  • It is also used in the treatment of nervous system issues such as anxiousness, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Bell’s palsy.
  • Some of the other conditions that can be treated with rue are fever, bleeding, hepatitis, “weakness of the eyes,” water retention, intestinal worm infestations, and oral cancer. 
  • Rue can be used to kill bacteria and fungus as well.
  • Rue is used by some women for menstrual issues, uterine stimulation, and abortion.
  • Rue is used as an insect repellent and for treating arthritis, dislocations, sprains, bone injuries, inflamed skin, earaches, toothaches, headaches, tumours, and warts.

What are the potential downsides of rue?

When rue is ingested in food quantities, rue is deemed fit. However, when administered as medicine, which demands large portions, it can be extremely dangerous. Rue’s use can potentially induce stomach irritation, mood swings, sleep problems, disorientation, spasms, major kidney and liver damage, and even death when taken by mouth. 

Similarly, when applied to the skin, it might induce a rash as well as increase UV sensitivity.

Who should avoid rue?

Rue when taken at medical doses, rue is extremely dangerous for anyone, but people with the following diseases are at a higher risk of experiencing dangerous adverse effects from their intake.

  • Pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers are to avoid rue in medicinal quantities as taking it can be extremely dangerous for both the mother and the child. Rue has been known to induce uterine contractions, which can lead to a miscarriage, thus the use of rue to induce abortion. However, it has major consequences for the mother. Some women have died after attempting to induce abortions with rue.
  • People with stomach and intestine problems should avoid rue. If you have a stomach or intestinal problem, you should avoid rue as they might aggravate existing gastrointestinal issues.
  • People with kidney diseases should avoid rue. If you have a renal or urinary tract disease, you should avoid rue even more, as rue can hurt the kidneys and irritate the urinary tract. 
  • People with liver issues: If you have a liver condition, you should avoid rue even more as they might exacerbate existing liver issues.


In this short article, we have answered the question ”can you eat rue?”. We have also learnt about what rue is, what it tastes like, the culinary and medicinal uses of rue, the potential downsides of rue and the people to avoid rue.