Goat’s rue (Galega officinalis)

Goat’s rue (Galega officinalis)

Other common names: Pestilenzkraut, Galega patula, Galega bicolor, Galegae officinalis, geissrautenkraut, Italian fitch, French lilac

*Not to be confused with regular rue (Ruta graveolens).

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Family: Fabaceae


Diaphoretic, astringent, bitter, blood sugar regulator, cholagogue, liver tonic, galactagogue, digestive tonic, alterative, diuretic, pancreatic stimulant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory.


Harvest goat’s rue well above the root (I suggest the tops of the plant), before it goes into flower, and dry it thoroughly – it is thought that drying reduces the risk of having toxic constituents present.

Part used: Aerial parts

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Guanidine derivatives including galegine, hydroxygalegine and other alkaloids, flavones, flavone glycosides, flavonol triglycosides, kaempferol, quercetin, tannins, bitter principles, saponins, mucilage, norterpenoid and sesquiterpenoid glycosides, other flavonoids, peganine, chromium and others.


Fever, poor appetite, diabetes support, irregular menstruation, liver/gallbladder health, indigestion, diarrhea, low milk production, detoxification, weight management, PCOS, adrenal health, insulin resistance, fluid/urinary retention, pancreatic health, arthritis, sprains/strains, swelling, sore muscles/joints.

Medicinal preparations:


Goat’s rue has been traditionally used in teas, capsules, extracts and tinctures.


Goat’s rue can be used in liniments and ointments for sore joints and muscles.


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Fresh goat’s rue contains some constituents which may be toxic in large amounts – some livestock have been poisoned by grazing on it in excessive amounts. This is a controversial warning however, and many herbalists feel that it is safe for human use (and have been using it – even in nursing mothers – for centuries). I’ve been unable to find a case study of any human poisonings, however until more research is done, I can’t recommend this herb to anyone (especially pregnant or nursing mothers) without the guidance of a physician and a qualified herbal medicine practitioner. Do not administer to children under 18, or use in high doses or for long term – and don’t use if you suspect you might have gallstones or kidney stones. A blood sugar drop and drug interactions (especially with diabetes medications) are also possible – as I already stated, ask your doctor before taking this herb. If you do take it, stop at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery. May interfere with iron absorption.

I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns.

Energetic/traditional use:

Goat’s rue contains constituents that have been isolated and synthesized in the lab to create the popular diabetes medication, metformin. It has been used as a potent galactagogue in both humans and livestock that were not producing adequate breast milk. In medieval times it was used to eliminate internal parasites and even as a remedy for the plague. It was also considered to be an aphrodisiac, particularly for men.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.

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