Ruta genus is constituted by ten species, of which the most commonly described are R. chalepensis and R. graveolens. Ruta plants are perennial shrubs belonging to the family Rutaceae, which are traditionally used in folk medicine, since ancient times mostly for the treatment of various ailments of the womb.
To provide a review of the different uses of Ruta species in traditional medicine, as well as, on their multifactorial biological and pharmacological properties.
A search of the literature on genus Ruta and Ruta species was performed using various scientific databases and search engines and the information of articles were reviewed and compiled.
Different parts of the plants belonging to Ruta genus are used in folk medicine to treat a wide range of different diseases. The principal use of these is in gynaecological field, but the treatment of pain, fever, nausea, inflammation, infections, nervous disorders, among others, are also described. These plants have been used to fertility regulation, as anti-fertility agent, to control menstrual flux and bleedings, as abortifacient and as contraceptive. The phytochemical composition of these plants consists mainly in essential oil (EO), but phenolic compounds were also reported, like coumarins and flavonoids, as well as alkaloids. Ruta species products like extracts and EOs have shown broad pharmacological activities, such as antimicrobial and antifungal activities, as well as, antiviral and antiparasitic. Moreover, Ruta plants products present antioxidant, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-diabetic activities and demonstrated contraceptive and abortifacient effects. These plants were also tested to be used for non-therapeutic approaches, as bio-insecticides in the control of different insect pests showing to be able to reduce infestation.
Ruta species could be a potential source of natural products with biological activities. Ruta extracts, essential oils and isolated compounds have shown a diverse potential for use in the treatment of different diseases, as well as, for pests control, contributing to the valorisation of these plants. Nonetheless, this review indicates that more studies are needed to demonstrate the full potential of Ruta species, and to further explore the toxicology and safety of these plants.

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