Botanical: Galega officinalis
Family: Leguminosae (legume)
Other common names: French Lilac, French Honeysuckle, Italian Fitch, "Pestilenzkraut"
Goat's Rue had been used for centuries to lower fevers and expel worms, but later research discovered that the herb also had the ability to increase milk production and encourage breast development. Moreover, Goat's Rue helps to stimulate digestive enzymes and is apparently helpful when used to reduce blood sugar levels and may be very usefull in cases of late-onset diabetes.
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Goat's Rue is a hardy perennial that is native to southern Europe and western Asia and cultivated in both Europe and the United States as an ornamental in gardens and also for medicinal purposes. The thick, spreading root system sends up a bushy growth of many hollow stems bearing leaves and profusely-flowering spikes of pea-like, lilac-to-pink-to-white blooms from June to September. The plant thrives in deep, moist, well-drained soil in sun or partial shade and grows to a height of about three feet. The herb has no fragrance unless bruised, and then it emits a disagreeable odor; hence, the name Goat's Rue. Since ancient times, Goat's Rue has been used in herbal medicines, mostly as a galactagogue, or substance that helps to stimulate lactation, and in 1873, French physicians found that livestock fed with Goat's Rue increased their milk yield by thirty-five to fifty percent. Because of the herb's diaphoretic properties, it helped to increase sweating and was thus considered an important treatment for reducing fevers, particularly those associated with plague and infectious diseases; hence, the plant received its German name, "Pestilenzkraut." In Hill's Universal Herbal of 1832, a tea made of the leaves was said to "excite sweating" and be "good in fevers," and this mucilaginous, astringent and bitter herb was included in the National Formulary IV attached to the United States Pharmacopœia. Some of the constituents in Goat's Rue include tannins, a bitter principle, flavonoids, glycosides, galegin and saponins.
Goat's Rue has been known for centuries as a diaphoretic, or agent that helps to produce perspiration and sweating. As a result, it helps to reduce fevers and cool the body, as well as rid the body of poisons through the skin. This was a particularly important herb in early herbal medicine for the treatment of fevers associated with plague and infectious diseases. Because it is also mildly diuretic, it further helps to reduce fevers and rid the body of toxins by increasing urine flow.
As a galactagogue, Goat's Rue has been used to increase milk production and is also thought to encourage breast development in humans. It has been used in folk medicine to help stimulate milk flow in nursing mothers when there are problems with breastfeeding, especially in cases of insufficient milk production. When fed to livestock, it is said to improve milk yield by up to fifty percent.
Goat's Rue contains an active constituent, galegin, which is believed to lower blood sugar levels and may be helpful in cases of pancreatitis and late-onset, non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Late-onset diabetes is often caused by lack of insulin production (which leads to high blood sugar) and is frequently associated with obesity and poor diet. Goat's Rue is thought to enlarge and stimulate the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, which are responsible for insulin production. It should be remembered that blood sugar levels in diabetics need careful monitoring, and use of this herb should always be undertaken under the auspices of a physician.
The bitter principle in Goat's Rue is believed to help improve digestive problems, especially chronic constipation caused by lack of digestive enzymes. In the past, the herb was also thought to be effective in expelling worms and intestinal parasites.
In the case of diabetics, it is recommended that Goat's Rue Herbal Supplement be used only under the strict supervision of a physician, and it should be remembered that blood sugar levels need careful monitoring under the auspices of a qualified health care provider. In the case of nursing mothers, there is no clinical evidence substantiating the herb's safety for babies; thus, it is wise to consult a physician before using it.