Herbs & Plants

Goat’s Rue

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Botanical Name:Tephrosia virginiana
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Tribe: Loteae
Genus: Galega
Species: G. officinalis
Parts used: The aboveground parts (talks, leaves and flowers) are collected and dried during the flowering period.

Other Names: American Garden Rue, Catgut, Devil’s Shoestring, Rabbit-pea, Horey turkey peas, Virginia Pea, Virginia Tephrosia, Cheese renet, herba ruta caprariae
Common Names:Galega officinalis, French lilac, Italian fitch or professor-weed.
Habitat:Goat’s rue originates from Europe and Middle East. Goat’s rue is native to Europe and eastern Asia. It was introduced to the western U.S. in the late 1800s as a possible forage crop.Goat’s rue is planted as fodder for animals. Goat’s rue is said to increase the milk production of goats, hence its name. Juice from Goat’s rue was used to clot milk for cheese production. There are also reports of cattle which died after eating goat’s rue.

Now, Native to Eastern N. America from New Hampshire to Florida, west to Texas and Manitoba. Found growing in dry sandy woods, openings, fields, and roadsides.

Description & Cultivation:Goat’s rue is a leguminous perennial herb with a height up to 1 meter. The erect stems bear pinnately compound leaves consisting of several pairs of lance shaped leaflets. The legume flowers are white or pink and produce small cylindrical pods.
Goat’s Rue is fairly easy to grow, it is a deep rooted plant, requiring a moist, deep, light or medium very well-drained soil in a sunny position. Goat’s Rue has a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen can be used by other plants growing nearby. Goat’s Rue is 1 to 2 ft. tall, covered with silky silver hairs. Root is long and tough, stems erect and branched. Leaves are alternate, compound (pinnately) and divided into 8-14 pairs of narrow oblong leaflets and one leaflet at the tip. Flower clusters are terminal racemes atop the plant. Each of the large flowers is pea like, 1/2 to 3/4 in. long, yellowish at the top, and purplish-pink below. When cultivated there may be 20 to 30 flowers per raceme and up to 200 flowers per plant. The flowers have a faint but definite pleasant aroma and bees visit them often for nectar. Flowers blooms from May through August. The root is a source of the natural insecticide ‘rotenone’, especially effective against flying insects but relatively harmless to animals. Cattle do graze on it but the plant is said to be toxic in large or strong doses. Gather after flowers bloom, dry for later herb use. Plant is not edible.

In 1891, goat’s rue was introduced to Cache County, Utah, for use as a forage crop. It escaped cultivation and is now a weed and agricultural pest, though it is still confined to that county. As a result it has been placed on the Federal Noxious Weed List in the United States. It was collected in Colorado, Connecticut and New York prior to the 1930s, and in Maine and Pennsylvania in the 1960s, but no more collections have been made in these areas since and the populations are presumed to have died out. It has also been found in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, and New Zealand.

Phytochemicals: Goat’s Rue contains the following phytochemicals: Galegine, Peganine, Vasicinone, Luteolin, Carnavine, Saponins, Flavonoids, Tannins

Medicinal Uses & Properties
Goat’s rue is a diaphoretic, galactagogue and hypoglycaemic. The phytochemical galegin lowers the blood sugar levels and explains why goat?s rue is used to treat diabetes mellitus. Studies have shown that extracts from goat’s rue inhibits the transport of glucose in the cells. It is not recommended to use goat?s rue for self medication of diabetes because diabetes is a serious condition and it?s difficult to standardize the strength of the active components.
Goat’s rue has also diuretic properties. Goat’s rue is also used to treat skin problems such as skin ulcers and to increase the milk production of nursing mothers.

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Goat’s Rue was much used by Native Americans who considered it to be an aphrodisiac and most useful in restoring manhood to those with impotency and as a female herb to restore a woman’s beauty and health. The root is used in alternative medicine as an antirheumatic, anthelmintic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, galactagogue, pectoral, restorative and tonic. A medicinal herb tea is used to treat rheumatism, bladder problems, fever, hard coughs, impotency, to expel intestinal worms, irregular menstruation and to increase the flow of breast milk. Goat’s Rue is used cosmetically in hand and foot bathes. Experimentally, the root has shown both anticancer and cancer-causing activity. research on this herb and its chemical constituents is ongoing and early results are proving to show it may be useful in Diabetes, Alzheimer’s and many other disorders. The root is a source of the insecticide ‘rotenone’ found to be especially effective against flying insects but appears to be relatively harmless to animals.
Used by Indians to poison fish. A medicinal tea made from the roots is said to make children muscular and strong. A cold herb tea was used for male potency. Goat’s Rue earned the names Devil’s Shoestring and Catgut from its tough rootstocks. A decoction of the roots has been used as a hair shampoo to prevent hair loss.

Goat’s Rue has been known since the Middle Ages for relieving the symptoms of diabetes mellitus. Upon analysis, it turned out to contain guanidine, a substance that decreases blood sugar by decreasing insulin resistance.

Chemical derivatives from the biguanide class of medication include metformin (Glucophage, commonly prescribed for diabetics) and the older, withdrawn agent phenformin.

Goat’s Rue is also cited by the SAS Survivial Guide by John “Lofty” Wiseman, as having a sedative effect on fish. The roots and flowers are the most potent, but the most common method is to simply crush the entire plant and throw into a body of water with restricted flow. The fish that then float to the top are safe to consume.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.