I decided rather than write my next blog entry about digestion, or more aptly put, indigestion, I would share my recent experience with the medicinal herb called Rue.

I am a prodigious reader and thus I found myself  reading a text about medicinal herbs the other day and I conveniently ran across the “herb of grace” Ruta Graveolens, aka Rue. This was a convenient find because I was suffering the pains of a pulled or overused levator scapulae muscle. My neck was particularly sore but it radiated in to my shoulder and made lifting my arm difficult. As I read further I noticed that Rue is good for relaxing spasmodic muscles (thus is sometimes but not often used in tincture form for headaches especially those associated with hangovers) and a light bulb, dim as it seems now, went on.  Why not crush a few leaves between my fingers thus releasing the the natural oils and rub it over the area that was sore. Let me tell you and show you why not.

To the right of my blog you will see a photo, it is a photo of the area that I rubbed the rue on. On the day I performed this nonsensical action I will say I got some relief from the sore muscle but I attributed that to having done the Lady Bug workout by Teresa Tapp. T-Tapp exercises are great for keeping your spine in chiropractic adjustment, so whenever I am sore I do her Basic Workout or Lady Bug and within a day I have relief. I really didn’t think anymore of my Rue rubbing experiment until the next morning when I touched my neck and found ridges, like deep wrinkles and a distinct feeling of sunburn but I hadn’t exposed my skin for any period of time to the sun and certainly not just a small area of skin. I was perplexed.

I went off to work and the pain was becoming more distinct and if touched it felt burned. I hadn’t actually looked at the offending area, so I asked a co-worker if she would just look at the sore area and tell me what she thought it might be. She said with alacrity,” Oh Kris it’s a burn”. No, it couldn’t be. Or could it? In the cavernous area of my head where I thought I had a brain I suddenly saw the words of the herbalist I was reading the other day and she did say Rue could be caustic and could cause increased photo sensitivity; thus should be used with caution. At the time I understood that you should only consume a small amount of it internally but for some reason, that I now suffer the consequences of, I only felt the words that warranted my attention was the part that said it can be used for spasmodic muscles.

The initial phase of sore was yesterday and today (the day of the photo) I have blisters and I cannot stand to touch the area or have it touched. I have applied ample aloe vera gel to the area and I know I will soon have to keep it protected from infection should the blistering skin break open. Two days ago when I grabbed the pretty club shaped leaves of my rue plant I would not have dreamed of being in the discomfort I am in today, so I sit here a bit bewildered by my experience and hoping for a quick and easy resolution to my burn.

I guess there is a lesson in everything and my lesson this week and one I wanted to share with any of my readers is always use herbs with caution. They seem delicate and full of grace, as Shakespeare is purported to have said of Ruta Graveolens, but Mother Nature has armed them with an arsenal worthy of any war machine. They are truly a wonder of nature and I will have far more respect for them in the future. Never again will I underestimate the power of herbaceous plants with cute names like Rue.


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