Ruta graveolens, L. (L. angustifolia, Pers.) NOM. VULG.—Rudu, Sp.; Rue, Eng.
USES.—The rue of the European, American and Indian pharmacopoeias is emmenagogue, antispasmodic, anthelmintic, excitant, diaphoretic, antiseptic and abortive. It contains an essential oil, and rutinic acid (C25H28O15, Borntrager), starch, gum, etc. The essential oil is greenish-yellow, thick, acrid and bitter; specific gravity 0.911. It boils at 228°, is slightly soluble in water, and soluble in absolute alcohol. It is promptly oxidized by nitric acid, and is converted into pelargonic acid and other fatty acids.
Rutin (or rutinic acid), according to Weiss, is a glucoside which exists in the form of fine needles, bright yellow in color. It is slightly soluble in cold water and more so in boiling water. It melts at 190°, and solidifies at freezing point, forming a resinous mass. Its physiological properties are as yet unknown. The part of the plant employed is the leaves, which owe their property, apparently, to the essential oil they contain, from which they also derive their strong and disagreeable odor and their bitter, acrid and nauseous taste.
It is used principally as a uterine stimulant or emmenagogue, for which purpose it is given in doses of 0.10–0.15 centigrams of the freshly powdered leaf and 0.05–0.10 centigrams of the fresh leaves infused in a liter of water. The dry powder of the leaf should not be used because the essential oil volatilizes and a large proportion of it is lost, which is the most active principle of the drug. It is an agent which should be prescribed with the greatest prudence for large doses are poisonous even to the point of causing death. The symptoms following such doses are colic, vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and tenesmus.
It is also used as an antihemorrhagic after childbirth, but its action is slow, not being felt for several hours after the administration of the drug; for this reason it cannot take the place of ergot, though it seems to be superior to the latter in passive hemorrhages. The essential oil is given internally in doses of 2–6 drops on a piece of sugar. It is sometimes used as an antispasmodic in hysteria, epilepsy and chorea.
The Chinese make extensive use of this drug and it is one of their principal abortives. In Hindostan the dried leaves are burnt and the smoke inhaled as a cure for catarrh in children. They are careful not to administer it to pregnant women.
BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—A plant, 1 meter high, with leaves alternate, compound, the inferior ones 2–3-cleft; leaflets narrow, oblong, slightly fleshy.
Flowers greenish-yellow, hermaphrodite, arranged in corymbose terminal cymes.
Corolla, 4–5 free, concave petals. Calyx deeply divided, persistent. Stamens 8– 10, free, in two whorls, inserted beneath a thick disc. Ovaries 5, unilocular, many-ovuled. Styles 5, first free, then united, forming a column terminating in a small stigma. Follicles 5, united at the base, 1 centimeter long, free superiorly, hard, rounded, rugose, opening on top. Seeds ovoid, angular, blackish, albuminous.
HABITAT.—Common everywhere in the Philippines.
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