Benefits of the Rutaceae Family

The Rutaceae family are commonly known as the citrus fruit family and is also known as the rue family and contains flowering plants that generally have a strong scent. The genus Citrus includes oranges, grapefruits, limes and lemons.

All of the essential oils in this family have a balancing yet stimulating effect on the digestive system and are beneficial to the skin having antiseptic and antiviral properties. These oils are also nervine, having a marked impression on all types of depression, especially in children, the elderly and the infirm. Their use on clients with ME is to be recommended for their gentle, subtle, yet powerful energising and uplifting effects. The oils are obtained by expression (which involves no heat or chemical substances) of the fruit peel), these expressed oils contain coumarins (photo-sensitisers) and should not be used immediately prior to exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet light.

There is not another family of essential oils out there that reminds you of summer as much as the rutaceae. Their zesty sparkling scent is sharp and refreshing to the mind. In mythology fruits are often used as a symbol of abundance often associated with the goddesses of fruitfulness and plenty at the harvest.

Sweet orange oil has been used for centuries as a cleaning agent and is still used around the world for cleaning up oil spills at sea as it is so effective at cutting through grease, many cleaning products are orange scented today to reflect its historical use and because it is a pleasing scent for most people. It is a sunny and happy oil that is suggested by many aromatherapy books as being a good mood lifter and for bringing happiness to the mind. In Chinese tradition oranges signified a prayer or wish for good fortune and abundant happiness.

Lime oil (Citrus aurantifolia) is a juicy scented oil that complements so many others and is a good lymphatic stimulant and ideal for fatigue and a tired mind especially where there is apathy, anxiety and depression. Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) is a hybridised plant native to the west indies that has fantastic anti-microbial properties and is well documented for it’s use in cellulitis, obesity and water retention.

Lemon oil (Citrus limon) has long been used by humans for its medicinal properties including the juice being used for scurvy, as a diuretic and for hiccoughs. The essential oil is an excellent tonic for the circulatory system and is recommended for treating warts and verrucae.

On an energetic level citrus oils help to eliminate damp which is associated with bloated abdomen, weak digestion and lethargy and unblock and circulate stagnant Qi.

With rutaceae oils mostly being cold pressed their shelf life is a maximum of three years but due to their versatility and inexpensiveness you will find you can use them within that time easily and they are always a go to for most aromatherapists that use them.


Lavabre M. Aromatherapy workbook, Healing Art Press, USA 1997

Mojay G, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, Hodder and Stoughton, UK, 1996.

Battaglia, S, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, 2nd Edtn, Perfect Potion, Australia, 2003.

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