Ruta (Pharmacognosy)

Abstract. Ruta graveolens L. is an odoriferous herb belonging to the family Rutaceae. It is the source of Rue or Rue oil, called Sadab or Satab in Hindi.

  • Synonyms: Ruta graveolens, Rue, Herby grass, Garden rue
  • Biological source: It is a perennial undershrub that consists of dried herb of Ruta graveolens.
  • Family: Rutaceae.
  • Geographical source: It is indigenous to Southern Europe and cultivated in Britain and India.

Cultivation of Ruta Plants:

It grows well in well-drained in any variety of soil but prefers rocky and dry soil. It needs full sunshine to grow well. It is drought-resistant and needs very less watering.

Care should be taken during the handling of the plant because the sap is often irritating and leaves burn like rashes on people’s skin.

Rue can be harvested and used in houses as an insect repellant. Simply cut the leaves and dry them properly. Then keep the dried leaves in cloth bags and place them where ever needed to repel insects.

Rue plant
Fig.1: Rue plant

Macroscopic Characters of Ruta:

It is an erect, glabrous herb that is about 30 to 40 cm in height. Its leaves are bluish-green. It has a characteristic and strong aromatic odour and pungent taste. Flowers have green-yellow colour, fruits are subcylindrical which is brownish-green in colour and rough on the external surface.

Chemical Constituents of Ruta:

It contains glycosides, alkaloids, volatile oils and fixed oils. Rue contains rutin, psoralen, bergapten, graveolin, rutarin and naphthoharniarin. Rutin is a pale yellow crystalline compound that belongs to the flavonosoidal glycoside category. Alkaloids like rutalinium, dictamine, rutamine, rubalinium and 1-methyl-2-nonyl-4-quinoline are present in the drug. The fixed oils which are present in the drug are linoleic, stearic and palmitic acid whereas volatile oils are limonene, cineole, ethyl valerate, methyl salicylate, caryophyllene and myrecine.

Chemical structure of Rutin, Psoralen, Bergapten, Graveolin
Fig.2: Chemical structure of Rutin, Psoralen, Bergapten, Graveolin

Uses of Ruta:

  • It is used therapeutically as a capillary protectant, antitussive, spasmolytic, emmenagogue etc. It is mainly used in liquid extract form or infusion.
  • Rue extracts are mutagenic and hepatotoxic. Its large doses can cause gastric pain, vomiting, systemic complications and even death.
  • It can cause severe phytophotodermatitis upon exposure to rue herbal preparations which result in burn-like blisters.
  • Allied species: Peganum harmala known as ‘Syrian rue’.
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