Tag Archives: ruda

Natural Healing — Ruda


Ruda (ruta graveolens) came to Mexico with the Spanish priests. Branches of this plant were used during mass to sprinkle the holy water about. Mexican curanderas have adopted this practice for their healing sessions. Branches of ruda are used in limpias (cleansings). The curandera (healer) will use this aromatic plant to sweep the body of what ails it.

Ruda has been shown to have an antiproliferative effect on cancer cells. It has antibiotic, anti-inflammatoryand antioxidant value.  A wash for sores and wounds is made from 20 grams of fresh ruda per liter of water. A poultice can be made with freshly crushed leaves.

It is an organic insecticide and herbicide. In Mexico, you will often find ruda by the window to keep out insects or sprigs kept under pillows for the bedbugs. Ruda is often used as a treatment for lice as well. An infusion of 35 grams of fresh ruda per liter or water is made then massaged into the scalp. The head is covered for an hour, then the hair is washed.  

Apparently, it will also deter cats, although my cat doesn’t seem to realize that and lays haphazardly on whatever section of the garden is the coolest despite numerous rue plants spaced randomly among the other herbs.

A tea made from ruda is sometimes used by parteras (midwives) to increase the strength of uterine contractions when labor has gone on for some time. Ruda was also used in infusions to end an unwanted pregnancy during the first few weeks. A tea to bring on menstruation was brewed with 1 / 2 teaspoon of ruda, albabaca (basil), epazote (American wormseed) and yerba buena (spearmint). This aspect of the herb means that pregnant and lactating women should not use ruda in any form.

Traditionally, ruda is used to treat earache. Simply soak a cotton ball in warmed vegetable oil infused with ruda and place it in the ear. Crushed leaves are often used on the forehead to treat headaches caused by tension.

In addition to the warning against the use during pregnancy, excessive doses of ruda can be toxic. Dermal application should also be done with care because the oils in the plant contain furanocoumarins which sensitize the skin to light and can cause severe blistering on some people.

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Herbal Remedies and the like

The Nahuatl Indians called this fruit 'ahuacatl' which means testicle because of its shape. The Spaniards morphed the word to 'aguacate', and later it was again morphed to the current name we use in English 'avocado.'

The Nahuatl Indians called this fruit ‘ahuacatl’ which means testicle because of its shape. The Spaniards morphed the word to ‘aguacate’, and later it was again morphed to the current name we use in English ‘avocado.’

The other day we went to the tianguis (flea market) in Valle del Santiago.  There were all sorts of things to see, people selling everything from TV remote controls to plows.  I, of course, am always on the lookout for books and found a small pile in front of the tiniest little old doña in a reboza (shawl).  In this pile, I chanced upon 2 yellowed, slightly rat-gnawed little books with the grand titles of “Antiguo Formulario Azteca de Yerbas Medicinales.  Manual imprescindíble de los secretos indígenas” and the second “Antiguo Recetario Medicinal Azteca. Curese con Plantas y Yerbas.”  For those not totally fluent in Spanish, both books purported to be herbal medicines used by the Aztecs.  At 3 pesos a piece, I could hardly turn them down.  This little viejita (elderly lady) made the comment that a young woman like myself (young only compared to her I suspect) should be reading those romance novels in the other pile that I didn’t spare a glance for.  But no, Aztec herbal medicine was more likely to cure my ills than those trashy titles.  And I have not been disappointed with the contents and cures it offers.  There are remedies for everything from curling your hair to curing diabetes, all naturally.  Fascinating.


My herbal treasure finds!

I expect I see the planet as a beneficent and giving organism because of my mom, always ready to make fresh chamomile tea from her stash of dried flowers, or biking through overgrown paths for that patch of wild grapes no one else knew about.  And living here, off the beaten track, there are so many plants I am not familiar with and am so longing to learn about what it is they can do.

Nopal, (cactus) for instance not only tastes like the freshest green morning but according to my new source, is good for curing intestinal parasites, strengthening of the lungs, bringing on mother’s milk and curing open sores, depending on how it is used.   And did you know the hueso de aguacate (avocado seed) can be used to treat for lice?  Who would have guessed?


Recipe for avocado shampoo for lice and fleas

Cut 5 avocado seeds into pieces and boil with 1/4 liter of water with branches from the flowering plant known here as ruda.   Wash with a neutral base soap and then apply the avocado water like a lotion.  Cover the head in a towel and the nasty little pests will vacate the premises on their own.



According to Antiguo Formulario Azteca de Yerbas Medicinales, aguacate (avocado) has always been used as an aphrodisiac because its ingestion stimulates the sexual organs.  It is also recommended to diabetics to control sugar imbalance.






Filed under Health, Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing