Goat’s Rue (Galega Officinalis) Benefits & Side Effects
Goat’s rue, botanically known as ‘Galega officinalis L., is used in folk medicine to treat various health ailments and disorders. It is a flowering plant and the over-ground part of this medicinal herb holds excellent medicinal properties.
The presence of various plant compounds in goat’s rue is responsible for its therapeutic effects. Goat’s rue is native to the Middle East, South-eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is commonly used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus, inflammation and malignant fever.
Goat’s Rue Benefits
Let’s throw some light on the myriad health benefits of goat’s rue:
Controls Diabetes Mellitus
Goat’s rue has been used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus, since the early 1900s. ‘Guanidine’ is the active ingredient present in goat’s rue that helps in lowering the blood glucose levels.
Metformin, a potent anti-hyperglycemic drug is produced from the guanidine derivatives present in goat’s rue. Compounds present in this medicinal plant, stimulate the release of insulin, which helps in controlling blood glucose level.
It further transports glucose into the cells and tissues and reduces the presence of excess glucose in the blood. The alkaloids present in goat’s rue induce the prolonged hypoglycemic effect.
Rutin, a compound present in this plant acts as an antioxidant and an anti-diabetic agent. It protects the pancreatic beta cells against damage caused by free radicals and preserves insulin action.
Microelements present in goat’s rue also help in regulating blood glucose levels. These include:
- Manganese enhances the hypoglycemic effect of insulin and helps in the breakdown of fat. It prevents deposition of fat in the body, which improves insulin signaling, insulin sensitivity and glucose transport into the cells and tissues.
- Selenium fights oxidative stress and prevents absorption of pro-oxidants.
- Chromium salts potentiate the action of insulin and reduce insulin resistance.
Note: Diabetics must discuss with their diabetologist before starting with goat’s rue. Self-treatment may cause hypoglycemia and it can affect your health. (1)
Aids Weight Loss
Goat’s rue is an amazing anti-obesity agent. An animal study observed that goat’s rue helped in weight reduction in those who are normal and genetically obese.
Intake of goat’s rue along with a calorie-restricted diet helps in losing excess body fat.
A high-calorie diet without exercise causes weight as well as fat gain. Guanidine, a precursor to metformin is responsible for this weight loss effect. It suppresses the appetite and delays hunger pangs.
Thus, lesser calories enter the system, which may help one to lose weight. It further prevents the storage of fat in the body and helps in fat-burning. (2)
Goat’s Rue Increases Lactation
Goat’s rue is a natural galactagogue and it possesses lactogenic effect. It increases breast milk supply. Phytoestrogens present in goat’s rue are plant chemicals that mimic the action of estrogen.
They bind to the estrogen receptors and increase the concentration of prolactin. Prolactin is a hormone responsible for the secretion of milk in breastfeeding mothers.
Dried leaves of this plant improve lactation and enhance the production of breast milk as well as increase the size of the breast tissue. Phytoestrogens present in goat’s rue include:
However, fresh goat’s rue leaves are toxic, hence their intake should be avoided by lactating mothers. Use the dried leaves to naturally increase the breast milk production. (3, 4)
Note: Lactating mothers with low blood glucose level must avoid the intake of goat’s rue. This plant is a strong hypoglycemic agent. Intake of this plant may further reduce the blood glucose level, which can affect the mother’s health.
Chronic inflammation is the cause of various diseases and disorders. Goat’s rue has the ability to prevent the production of pro-inflammatory compounds, which give rise to inflammation.
A study observed that natural compounds present in goat’s rue prevent the generation of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide, if produced in higher amounts in the body may give rise to serious inflammatory diseases.
Hence, by blocking the formation of such a dangerous compound, goat’s rue plays a crucial role in protecting the body against diseases.
Such activity of this medicinal plant is attributed to the presence of flavonoids or alkaloids in it. Hence, goat’s rue has been widely used in the treatment of inflammatory diseases in traditional medicine. (5)
A Strong Antioxidant
Consumption of goat’s rue increases the supply and production of antioxidants in the body and reduces the negative action of pro-oxidants.
It is very well-known that oxidative stress plays a crucial role in the pathophysiology of various diseases and disorders.
Phenolic substances are health-enhancing compounds, which are present in abundance in goat’s rue. These substances possess antioxidant properties.
They neutralize the free radicals and fight against oxidative stress. They further enhance the natural antioxidant defense system of the body.
Phenolic compounds protect the healthy cells of the body against damage and destruction and maintain DNA integrity. (6)
Fights Against Cancer
Scientists have observed that goat’s rue is an excellent anti-cancer agent. Leaves of goat’s rue are a great source of phytoestrogens. These phytoestrogens act similar to estrogen and protect against human breast cancer.
These compounds kill the dangerous cancer cells and prevent their spread to other healthy cells of the body.
They further prevent the growth and multiplication of the cancer cells and suppress the formation and growth of the tumor.
Phytoestrogens present in goat’s rue are:
Moreover, these phytoestrogens possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They reduce the load of free radicals, which otherwise worsen the condition.
Flavonoids are dominant substances in goat’s rue that hold anti-cancer activity. These include:
They inhibit the processes that induce cancer and thus, help in the treatment and management of cancer. (7)
An Anti-Bacterial Agent
Goat’s rue is effective in inhibiting the activity of various bacteria. Studies have found that goat’s rue is effective against two dangerous bacteria, which include:
- Serratia Marcescens that causes meningitis, septicemia, eye infections, urinary tract infections and respiratory tract infections.
- Yersinia enterocolitica that causes stomach infection, diarrhea, abdominal pain, stomach cramps and
Such an anti-bacterial action of goat’s rue is attributed to the presence of guanidine derivatives; galegin and hydroxygalegin in it.
These compounds inhibit the growth and colonization of the bacteria in the body. They further prevent the bacteria from reaching out to other healthy cells of the body.
These compounds interact with the bacteria and destabilize the bacterial cell wall. Additionally, skin diseases caused by bacteria can also be treated with goat’s rue. (8)
Hence, they inhibit the bacterial growth in the body and help in quick healing.
High Blood Pressure
Goat’s rue is effective in lowering high blood pressure due to its anti-hypertensive effects. It widens the arteries and blood vessels and ensures smooth blood flow throughout the body. Hence, it helps in the management of high blood pressure, along with a salt-restricted diet.
Improves lipid profile
Regular consumption of goat’s rue helps in improving the overall lipid profile. It reduces the level of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood and increases the concentration of HDL ‘good’ cholesterol.
Improves heart health
Goat’s rue boosts heart health by reducing the risk factors for heart disease, which include:
- High blood glucose level
- Altered lipid profile
- High blood pressure
It further reduces platelet aggregation and reduces clot formation in the arteries, which could lead to blockage. Hence, it ensures smooth blood flow throughout the body.
Goat’s rue is a natural diuretic, which increases the production of urine. Hence, it detoxifies your body and helps in getting rid of toxins and other substances. (9)
Goat’s Rue Side Effects & Toxicity
Studies have revealed that aerial parts of goat’s rue are toxic in nature. An animal study found that consuming a diet containing aerial parts of goat’s rue may increase the level of cholesterol, conjugated bilirubin and certain enzymes.
Besides this, the blood level of calcium, albumin, white blood cells and platelet count were reduced in animals who were put on a diet containing goat’s rue.
Studies have further observed that oral toxicity of this plant can affect the liver and lungs and thus, have a negative impact on health.
However, more studies are required to confirm the toxic effect of aerial parts of goat’s rue plant on human health. (10)
How to Consume Goat’s Rue
Goat’s rue can be consumed in for of tea. Its capsules are also available in the market.
Goat’s Rue Tea
Goat’s rue is commonly consumed in the form of tea. It is available in the market or you can even prepare it at home. How to make this tea:
Boil 1 teaspoon goat’s rue in 1 cup of water for 2-3 minutes. You can drink this tea 2-3 times a day. You can improve the flavor the tea by adding one of the below-mentioned ingredients:
- Fennel seeds
Goat’s Rue Capsules
Goat’s rue capsules are available in the market, but one should ask their doctor before starting with these capsules. Purchase these capsules from a reliable source.