Rue essential oil comes from a plant, Ruta graveolens, that is generally considered just a plain ornamental shrub but has been used medicinally for centuries by the ancient Mediterranean world. It was even used to apply holy water during baptisms, earning it the nickname “herb of grace”. Though it may not be as common anymore, there are still several proven benefits and uses of rue essential oil.

6 Proven Benefits and Uses of Rue Essential Oil

1. Anti-fungal

Fungi are all around us, even in and on our bodies. Most are harmless until an overgrowth occurs and leads to infections and even food rot. Domestic plants can be especially vulnerable to fungus. Fungi that attack plants like grapes and tropical fruits such as mango can cause rot that makes the entire fruit inedible. Usually, this would be treated with human-made chemicals, but those have side effects of their own. Rue essential oil has been shown to be effective against several types of fungi, which makes is a natural alternative to chemical fungicides that should not be ingested. (1)

2. Repel Insects

One of the common rue plant uses is in repelling insects. This includes insect that infests foods such as flour and corn as well as common pests like mosquitoes. Rue oil may make a more natural alternative, so food is not contaminated by strong fumigant chemicals, making them inedible. It can help control the spread of infectious diseases like the zika virus when used to either repel mosquitoes or help reduce the population. (2)

Use rue essential oil on cotton balls and place them near food storage or add to standing water where mosquitoes tend to breed.

3. Antibacterial

The world of bacteria and viruses grows by the day as science continues to find that they can change and mutate even after traditional treatments. This includes foodborne pathogens that cause food poisoning or respiratory distress when they are found in the air. Using rue essential oil in conjunction with other cleaning oils such as lemon can help prevent the spread of germs and viruses in your household without exposing your family to a lot of harsh chemicals that have terrible side effects of their own. (3)

Add a drop of rue to a mix of white vinegar and lemon oil to create a disinfectant spray that will help keep the entire house clean.

4. Treat Rheumatic Disorders

Rheumatic disorders include any disease that affects the joints, tendons, bones, muscles, or ligaments in your body. These include different types of arthritis where the joints are inflamed and painful. Rue plant uses include treating disorders like rheumatoid arthritis by reducing the inflammation found in joints. It is also a topical analgesic, blocking the pain signals along the nerves, allowing you to find relief even before the inflammation is affected. (4)

Dilute rue essential oil with other others such as peppermint to make a topical oil that can be applied to joints to help with pain and swelling.

5. Prevent Arterial Damage

Heart disease is on the rise in America and remains one of the most prevalent causes of death. Conditions like cardiovascular disease can be treated with medications and diet, but it is difficult to repair the damage that has already occurred before treatment. Rue oil has been shown to have antioxidant properties that prevent damage from free oxygen molecules in the body as well as reducing inflammation in arterial walls. This oil may ameliorate the side effects of diseases such as arteriosclerosis. (5)

Begin with about 1 drop of rue oil to a tablespoon of oil. Apply directly over the heart to allow the oil to pass through the skin.

6. Protect Cells After Disease

Though science has made many advancements when it comes to being able to treat many different types of disease, it seems like the cure is often worse. Treatments such as heavy medication or procedures like radiation can damage cells and may cause further disease in the future. Oil made from Ruta graveolens has been shown to help cells remain healthy and prevent further spread of some diseases. This may be useful in preventing sickness as a side effect. (6)

My Experience with Rue Essential Oil

I may not make my own essential oils, but I do like to include the plants they come from in my home garden. There is something about starting a garden of flowers and vegetables that you then harvest and eat. I usually include my children, making busy hands make the holes in the soil to place seeds and seedlings.

Honestly, they just enjoy any excuse to be covered head to toe with dirt, and they also know that they will be getting unlimited vegetables at the end of it.

I enjoy different types of berries and fruits that don’t require the time it takes to grow and the entire tree. I can stand to wait a few years but don’t really have the patience or know-how for something like pruning a tree to bear fruit without damaging the branches. Grape vines take some time but produce faster than apple trees. (I had daydreams of trying my hand at winemaking, but thankfully, it just stayed a daydream.)

The summer had been particularly rainy, with entire months where it either sprinkled, poured, blustered or stormed every single day. My garden was now my pond. Somehow my vines still tried to produce some fruit for me before I found them covered in gray, fuzzy mold that entire desiccated bunches at once.

I try not to run for the chemical fungicides before doing some research. Ruta graveolens was the plant that came up most often, especially when dealing with grapes and other tropical fruits. I diluted about 1 drop per cup of water and sprayed the affected plants a couple of times a week.

The oil treatment did the trick, and I stopped the spread of the mold to all the grapes. Too bad it had no effect on the weather.

Recommended Rue Essential Oil Based Products

1. Weleda – Ruta Ointment

Weleda - Ruta Ointment | 25g
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  • Weleda
  • Weleda - Ruta Ointment | 25g

This cream takes advantage of rue’s anti-inflammatory properties for use on sprains. It should also relieve the pain that comes from the damaged muscles and ligaments. Reducing inflammation may help you heal faster since your body has assistance in healing the inflammation. You might also use this cream for other conditions such as arthritis, thanks to the same analgesic properties.


2. 100% Pure and Natural Biokoma Rue Dried Herb

100% Pure and Natural Biokoma Rue Dried Herb 50g (1.76oz) in Resealable Moisture Proof Pouch
  • [INTRODUCTION] - Ruta graveolens, commonly known as rue, common rue...
  • [INGREDIENTS] - 100% Rutae Herba
  • [PREPARATION and DOSAGE] - One teaspoon pour the glass of boiling...

Dried herbs have the benefit of being able to be used in various ways, including as compresses after being boiled to release the aroma and other benefits. You can add the herbs to a bath to enjoy the pain-relieving properties of Ruta graveolens or carry them in a sachet to enjoy the benefits that come with scent. It may be preferred to the essential oil because the effects are much weakened in whole plant form.


Caution of Rue Essential Oil

  • Never take rue essential oil internally. It can cause vomiting, dizziness, or confusion. It is a poison in large enough doses and can lead to death.
  • Always dilute heavily with water or carrier oil. Rue may cause contact dermatitis and photosensitivity.
  • Wait up to 2 hours before exposing skin to sunlight after applying rue oil. It may cause photosensitivity and cause the skin to burn more easily.
  • Do not use rue if you are already taking a medication that is known to cause photosensitivity as the oil may increase effects.
  • Do not handle rue essential oil if you are pregnant. It is known to cause inflammation of the uterus and can lead to miscarriage.
  • Always use 100% therapeutic grade essential oil to avoid contamination.
  • Test rue oil dilution on the skin of underarm to test for sensitivity.


I hope you enjoyed learning about the uses of the common shrub, rue. Please share with anyone who is looking for a way to protect their gardens without the use of harsh pesticides. Rue is a surprisingly useful little plant when it comes to helping other plants thrive.