Goat’s Rue root (Galega officinalis)
Galega officinalis, commonly known as galega, goat’s-rue, French lilac, Italian fitch, or professor-weed, is an herbaceous plant in the Faboideae subfamily. It is native to the Middle East but has been naturalized in Europe and western Asia. The plant has been extensively cultivated as a forage crop, an ornamental, a bee plant, and as green manure.
OTHER NAMES: Faux-Indigo, French Honeysuckle, French Lilac, Galega, Galéga, Galéga Officinal, Galega bicolor, Galega officinalis, Galega patula, Galegae Officinalis Herba, Geissrautenkraut, Goat’s Rue Herb, Italian Fitch, Lavanegravese, Lilas d’Espagne, Lilas Français, Rue-de-Chegravevre, Rue des Chegravevres, Sainfoin d’Espagne.
Although not thoroughly studied with 21st century methods, G. officinalis has been analyzed for its constituents, which include galegine, hydroxygalegine, several guanidine derivatives, such as 4-hydroxygalegine flavones, flavone glycosides, kaempferol, and quercetin. In addition to its purported effect to lower blood glucose levels and induce diuresis, goat’s rue was used as an herbal tonic in folk medicine practices of medieval Europe to treat bubonic plague, worms, and snake bites.
Goat’s rue is originally from the Middle East, but nowadays it grows all over Europe and Asia. This useful and diverse herb has been eagerly spread by humans, who have cultivated it as a fodder, green manure, honey plant, medicinal and ornamental. It was believed to increase the milk yield of domesticated animals, which is the origin of its scientific name: gale, ‘milk’ and ega ‘to bring, cause’ – so it is the milk-bringer. Since the Middle Ages goat’s rue has been used to treat diabetes as the guanidine it contains lowers blood sugar levels. Species have also been used in fishing: crushed stems are simply thrown into the water and the fish rendered unconscious by the poison are collected from the surface. In North America there has been a fear that goat’s rue will cross-breed and become a problematic alien, in much the same way that we in Finland have the same fears about garden lupine (Lupinus polyphyllos). Goat’s rue can mainly be found in Finland as a garden ornamental and only occasionally does it spread to the wild.
Benefits of Galega
Goat’s rue has been employed as a vermifuge, to treat snakebites, and to aid in treating the plague. It was believed to have been used as a diuretic and tonic in typhoid conditions and also as a nervous system stimulant.
Culpepper suggested goat’s rue as a soak for tired feet and for cheese making. Hill’s Universal Herbal (1832) mentions the dried flowers of goat’s rue being added to boiling water as an infusion and then taken to induce sweating and aid in fevers. The plant is widely cultivated as cattle feed.
Goat’s rue is used along with conventional treatment for diabetes and as a diuretic.
In combination with other herbs, goat’s rue is used to stimulate the adrenal gland and pancreas; to protect the liver; for digestion problems; and to start the flow of breast milk. Some people use herbal combinations that include goat’s rue as a tonic and for “blood purification.”
Galactagogue: increases milk supply in mammals. Developing mammary tissue. Goat’s Rue stimulates the development of mammary tissue. It has even been used to increase breast size in non-lactating woman. It can even induce the growth of breast tissue in women who have had breast surgery, or plan on nursing an adopted child. Promote tissue growth in women whose breasts didn’t increase during pregnancy. Promotes rapid natural breast milk production as Goat’s Rue has galactagogue properties (promote milk flow). Facilitates breast let down, so that your body can release the milk. Helps to maintain breast health during nursing and lactation.
Antidiabetic: Lowers insulin and blood sugar levels, insulin-sensitizing. It has been used in diabetic patients to lower their blood sugar levels since the early 1900’s.
Diuretic: it promotes the production of urine.
Anti-bacterial: bactericidal properties.
Diaphoretic: inducing perspiration.
Anti-obesity. Protects the liver. Blood purification. Digestive problems. Assists in fat metabolism.
Vermifuge: destroy or expel intestinal worms.
The appropriate dose of goat’s rue depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for goat’s rue. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
Goats Rue can be taken in a tablet form or as a tea. It is said that the fresh plant may be toxic, thus use only the dried form of the plant.
Goats Rue Tea. To make Goat’s Rue tea, use 1 teaspoon dried leaves in 1 cup of water. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Dosage: You can drink one cup of Goat Rue tea up to three times a day. Add other herbs such as alfalfa, fennel or fenugreek to your tea to further support milk production.
Goats Rue Capsules. The normal dose for Goat’s Rue capsules is 1 capsule 3 or 4 times per day. Goats Rue Capsules are available online (Amazon.com). Make sure to purchase your capsules from a trustworthy company. Most capsules come with directions and dosing on them, so follow instructions or consult your healthcare professional in case of doubt. Goats Rue is also found in some readymade teas and capsules made specifically for breastfeeding mothers.
Goats Rue Tincture. A tincture is a very strong herbal extract. It’s mostly made with alcohol, food grade glycerin, apple cider vinegar or honey. It’s said that making it with alcohol is the best option, as the ethanol in the alcohol helps to release the properties of the herb. Not to worry though, the amount of alcohol you will be getting in is not harmful to you or your baby. Dosage: Take half a teaspoon (20 to 40 drops) of Goat’s Rue tincture 2 to 3 times a day. It can be taken in water, juice or directly under your tongue.
Relation to Metformin
officinalis is rich in guanidine, a substance with blood glucose-lowering activity at the foundation for discovering metformin, a treatment for managing symptoms of diabetes mellitus. In ancient herbalism, goat’s-rue was used as a diuretic. It can be poisonous to mammals but is a food for various insects.
Once used in traditional medicine over centuries, G. officinalis is at the foundation of the biguanide class of antidiabetic drugs, which also included phenformin and buformin (both discontinued).
officinalis contains the phytochemicals, galegine and guanidine, both of which decrease blood sugar, but were discovered to cause adverse effects in human studies. The study of galegine and related molecules in the first half of the 20th century led to development of oral antidiabetic drugs. Research on other compounds related to guanidine, including biguanide, led ultimately to the discovery of metformin (trade name, Glucophage), used in the 21st century for management of diabetes by decreasing liver glucose production and increasing insulin sensitivity of body tissues.
Side Effects & Precautions
Do not use the fresh Goat’s Rue plant as it is considered toxic. Always use dried materials when preparing tinctures or teas.
There isn’t enough information to know whether goat’s rue is safe. No harmful effects have been reported in humans, but fatal poisoning has occurred in grazing animals that ate large quantities of goat’s rue.
Goat’s-rue may interfere with prescribed diabetes drugs, iron absorption, and anticoagulants. It may cause headache or muscular weakness, and its safety during pregnancy or breastfeeding is unknown.
Allergies: If you are allergic to peanuts, soybean, alfalfa or fenugreek allergic reactions may occur as Goat’s Rue is a member of the same family of plants.
Bleeding conditions: Goat’s rue might slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding. In theory, goat’s rue might make bleeding disorders worse.
Diabetes: Goat’s rue might lower blood sugar levels in some people. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use goat’s rue.
Surgery: Goat’s rue might affect blood sugar levels. There is concern that it might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop using goat’s rue at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with GOAT’S RUE
Goat’s rue might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking goat’s rue along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
Goats Rue Tincture. Goats Rue tincture can be used to increase milk supply and make your milk richer and creamier as well as more nutritious.
Ingredients: Goat’s Rue, Red Raspberry leaf, Blessed Thistle, Fenugreek, Marshmallow Root, Fennel, Vodka.
Method: Put half a cup of each of the herbs in a glass jar. Add only ¼ cup fennel and a small amount of water (enough to wet the herbs). Add vodka. 50% herb 50% alcohol ratio. Shake well and store in a cool, dry place for 2 to 6 weeks. Make sure to shake the mixture every few days.
The Goat’s Rue Tincture can be used from week 2, but the longer it sits, the more concentrated the tincture will get, as the vodka needs to let the herb release all its valuable properties.
When you want to use the tincture, separate or strain the herbs from the liquid and pour into dropper bottles.
Dosage: Take half a teaspoon (20 to 40 drops) of Goat’s Rue tincture 2 to 3 times a day. It can be taken in water, juice or directly under your tongue.