Traditional Remedies

Rue, an Important Natural Medicine in Cuzco

Our city has beautiful views, including those of the many sacred sites (wakas) that are around the city, in its neighborhoods. On the city’s edges you can still see fields filled with our Andean food. Inside the city you will find beautiful gardens. In both, people raise herbs that contribute to our natural medicine that is a tradition we have from our ancestors and which we continue to practice.

Our natural medicine claims more and more value. Today you can find all kinds of medicinal plants, either in their natural form or in preparations, in our markets. The caseras (vendors) bring these plants in from the countryside and sell them, often in mixtures, in small plastic bags. Today I will mention the qualities of one of the plants, rue. This plant has a delightful scent and a color between green and yellow that illuminates the gardens of the city.

Rue Flower at Home (Photo: Wayra)
Rue Flower at Home (Photo: Wayra)

For us there are two varieties of this marvelous plant. They are called male and female rue. When you see them, it can be difficult to notice the difference, unless you know hell to tell them apart. The leaves set them apart. The female rue has smaller leaves while the male has larger ones. Both of them are considered to have curative value.

The people of Cuzco use rue to cure themselves of the evil wind. This can happen to anyone whenever we are exposed to this kind of wind. When one gets this sickness it is most likely because he went out late at night, like around midnight. As a result he was exposed to this dangerous air and will develop symptom like a headache.

The cure for this is rue, as we said. You grab a few branches and rub them over the head and face of the affected person. Then, to finish, you take these branches and burn them. You will hear as they burn small sounds like little whistles. This is the sign that the person carried mal de viento. If this does not happen then it was not mal viento that afflicted them.


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Rue Can Bring More Money (Photo: Wayra))
Rue Can Bring More Money (Photo: Wayra))

People also use this plant as an amulet to attract good luck in different aspects of their work. Businessmen and women, for example, such as those who sell implements, clothing, and novelties, tend to always clean out a corner and place a bucket of water with rue and a little bit of garlic, before they open the store. They keep the bucket and rue in a place that is not easily visible to their clients.

Rue is also an ingredient of various rubs and dressings. For whatever kind of accident that might happen, people are always ready with natural medicine. If they do not have these plants at home, they can get them in any market in Cuzco.

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