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Goat's Rue

Galega officinalis

Herbs gallery - Goats Rue



Common names

  • French Lilac
  • Goat's Rue

The plant known as the goat's rue - botanical name: Galega officinalis - is a bushy perennial shrub native to Europe and some parts of Asia. The plant has a smooth and hollowed out erect branching stems and can grow to five feet in height. The goat's rue has bright green compound leaves, each leaf typically made up of thirteen to seventeen lance shaped leaflets. These leaflets are one to two inches in length each. The goat's rue bears flowers that range in color from pure white to a lilac hue, these flowers are grown in spikes and form red brown seedpods during the fall. Each seedpod contains two to six seeds, which are kidney shaped. The goat's rue was originally found mostly in Europe including Asiatic Russia and Iran, the plant prefers thrive moist soils for optimal growth. Goat's rue possesses long floral stalks that give bear many light purple to pink or completely white flowers, the flowers resemble the flowers borne by members of the pea family of plants. There are a wide variety of uses for the goat's rue herb, and the remedies made from this plant are very effective in treating a number of different disorders. Remedies made form the goat's rue have been employed in bringing about a reduction of blood sugar levels and the herbal remedy made from the herb is utilized as an alternative therapeutic treatment for diabetes as well as in the prophylactic role to prevent the onset of diabetes mellitus in individuals vulnerable to developing the disease. Remedies made from the goat's rue have also been used to bring reduction from fevers and the herb possesses diuretic as well as diaphoretic - inducing perspiration - properties. Goat's rue is considered to be one of the most beneficial herbs to induce lactation in women, stimulating milk production in nursing mothers though its was essentially used on animals in previous times. The lactation in farmed goats and milk cattle was boosted in former times by feeding them the herb; this was a common practice for increasing milk production in farm animals in England in the past. From this traditional use of the herb in inducing greater milk production, the belief that goat's rue may also stimulate breast development in human females spread, consequently the herb was used to increase lactation in women as well. The other traditional uses of the herb in the past include treating problems like snakebite, the treatment of plague and the treatment of intestinal parasites. Some of the active chemical compounds which are responsible for the goat's rue beneficial effects include the herb pigments called flavonoids, compounds called saponins, various chemicals such as glycosides, pigments like tannins and galegin. These compounds are believed to be responsible for the herb's ability to lower elevated blood sugar levels.

Parts used

Flower, leaf, stem, seed.

Uses

Nannies or female goats were traditionally given dried flowers of the goat's rue to increase their production of milk in Europe. The botanical Latinized name of the goat's rue plant - Galega - reflects the use of the plant; it is derived from the Greek word “gala,” or milk. The local name "cheese rennet" is also given to this plant in many parts of England due to the fact that the juice pressed from the green parts of the goat's rue is often used to clot milk during the process of cheese manufacture. One more reason for the widespread cultivation of the goat's rue plant is its use as fodder for cattle and other farm animals. The hidden toxic nature of the plant became known to researchers only after the reported deaths of farm sheep that were grazed on goat's rue.

Goat's rue is a very hardy herb and is used in a variety of ways. Remedies made from the goat's rue were at one time used in treating was problems like the plague, infestation of intestinal worms, to bring down fevers, and as a cure for snakebites and other problems. In human trials, nursing mothers were given the herb as a supplement; it resulted in an increase in lactation of up to fifty percent in some cases. At the same time, as the effect of this herb in suckling infants in still unknown, some doctors do the recommend the use of the goat's rue by nursing mothers. The alkaloid compound called “galegin,” that is isolated from goat's rue extracts resulted in lowered blood sugar levels and is considered a potential treatment for diabetes mellitus. The French introduced a synthetic guanidine medication late in the 1950s; this medication was subsequently approved in 1995 by the FDA in the US.

The primary use of the goat's rue herb these days is in the role of an anti-diabetic herbal remedy. The goat's rue herb possesses the ability to reduce elevated blood sugar levels in diabetics and other susceptible individuals. The goat's rue is not considered a major substitute for conventional medicines used in diabetic treatments, however, it can be extremely important to quell symptoms in the early stages of life style related late onset diabetes. The best way of consuming the herb is an herbal infusion. Goat's rue herb, as has been mentioned is good for nursing mothers as it increases breast milk secretion and may be considered an herbal supplement for lactating women. One more major effect of the goat's rue is its effective diuretic action.

Habitat and cultivation

The goat's rue is a native European plant, found mainly in central and southern Europe. It is also found in parts of Russia and in Asia Minor and as far as Japan. The goat's rue is also found in Britain, where it has been naturalized and has been traditionally cultivated in many parts of the country. The habitats in which the goat's rue plant is likely to be found include wet or damp meadows and sites along river banks - the plant can also be found in other types of moist low lying areas as well.

The goat's rue grows successfully in most types of soils, but will grow with maximum potential if grown under ideal soil conditions. The herb grows optimally at sites with a good exposure to sunlight and prefers deep moist soils. However, the goat's rue can also successfully grow in sites with light shade. The goat's rue grows very well even in soils that are poor in nutrient supply. Goat's rue is a hardy and tolerant plant, and can be neglected for long periods of time. It can be successfully grown among coarse grass; and only needs to be cut annually in the fall. The goat's rue is an invasive plant species when grown under good growing conditions; it is an exceedingly long lived plant. Goat's rue is a leguminous plant of the pea family, this species and most plants in the genus have a symbiotic relationship with certain strains of bacteria which dwell in the soil. The bacteria aid by fixing atmospheric nitrogen and can be found in nodules on the roots of the plants. As nitrogen is a precious nutrient, this relationship is very successful for both bacterium and herb. The growing plant utilizes the majority of the nitrogen fixed by the bacteria present in the nodules; however, some of this fixed nitrogen can be utilized by neighboring plants in the site.

The goat's rue is normally propagated using seeds that have been soaked in some warm water for twelve hours before sowing. The sowing of seeds is usually carried out during the spring or the fall on a cold frame. Seeds that have been sown during the spring may take time to germinate, the germination time of such spring sown seeds can be improved by giving them a period of cold stratification. Once the seedlings grow large enough to handle by hand, each single seedling is pricked out into individual pots and theses are then plant out in the summer at the permanent positions out doors. Another option, if to sow seeds outdoors in situ from mid to late spring - this is possible only, when the supply of seeds is not a problem. The seedlings undergo division in spring or in the fall. Seedlings that are found in larger clumps may be replanted directly into the permanent positions they will occupy. However, it may be best grow the smaller clumps in pots on a cold frame till they have begun to rooting well in the soil. These can then be plant out of doors in the spring at the permanent sites.

Constituents

Goat's rue contains alkaloids, saponins, flavone glycosides, bitters, tannin.

Usual dosage

Herbal infusion: this can be prepared by steeping a teaspoonful of the dried goat's rue leaves in a cup of boiling water. The herb must be permitted to infuse into the water for ten to fifteen minutes before it is strained and cooled. A dose of the infusion twice daily is ideal for most supplemental purposes.
Tincture: the goat's rue can also be consumed in the form of an herbal tincture; a dose of one to two ml of the herbal tincture can be taken thrice daily to treat different problems.

Collection and harvesting

Goat's rue flowers between July and August, the harvest of the stalks bearing the leaves and flowers is carried out at this time. The collected parts are then dried in the shade out in the open and stored for future use.

Comments

From Francisco Lubbert
About 4 months ago I gave goat's rue to a 70 year old neighbor suffering from type II diabetes. He got much better on his glucose levels, then something called my attention: he mentioned it had solved several problems, like pains or uneasiness and frequent night urinating, simply put he felt as never before. Then talking he also mentioned having prostate problems, which makes me think the goat's rue might have had a good effect on that. Too bad I cannot find anything confirming it on the web.
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