- Rheum palmatum L.
- Buckwheat family
Parts Usually Used
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
This species of rhubarb is a perennial herb which resembles the common
garden rhubarb; the conical rootstock, which is fleshy and yellow
inside, produces large, cordate, or almost orbicular, 7-lobed leaves
on thick petioles that are from 12-18 inches long. A hollow flower
stem, 5-10 feet high, also grows from the rootstock and is topped
by a leafy panicle of greenish or whitish flowers.
Cultivated outside its native Tibet and China mainly for ornamental
and medicinal purposes.
Appetizer, alterative, astringent, antipyretic, aperient, purgative,
tonic, hemostatic, anthelmintic, vulnerary
Flavone, gallic acid, glucogallin, palmidine, pectin, phytosterol,
rutin, starch, and tannins, anthroquinones, chrysophanol, physcion,
sennidine, rheidine, tetrarin, catechin, pectin, (oxalic acid in the
Legends, Myths and Stories
Originating from northwest China and Tibet, this herb has been in
use for over 2000 years. Gradually it spread through India, reaching
Europe during the Renaissance, then into Asia Minor and Turkey. It
was a favorite remedy with early Persian and Arabian physicians.
The healthy and hardy pioneer families dared to venture into the
unknown wilderness on their drive westward in America. They could
take only the necessities of life, such as guns, axes, farm tools,
seeds, and other bare essentials on this hazardous journey. Records
tell us that among the bare essentials the pioneer women included
a piece of rhubarb root to assure themselves and their families of
this medicinal treatment. Rhubarb came a long way in 4600 years of
history from its native home in western China.
This is not the garden variety of rhubarb (R. rhabarbarum). The rootstock
has a tendency to be both laxative and astringent, depending on the
Helps disorders of the colon,
spleen, and liver. Relieves headache,
in larger doses for constipation,
jaundice, liver problems,
and hemorrhoids. Eliminates
worms. Promotes healing of duodenal
ulcers. Enhances gallbladder
function. Antibiotic properties. In small doses, a cold extract of
the rootstock used to stimulate
Formulas or Dosages
Cold extract: soak the rootstock in cold water for 8-10 hours.
For a laxative, take 1 tbsp. 2-3 times a day. For an appetizer, take
1 tsp. 2-3 times a day, shortly before meals.
Rootstock: for a laxative, take 1 tsp. powdered or chopped
rootstock in 1/2 cup water. As an astringent for diarrhea, take 1/4
tsp. rootstock in 1/2 cup water. These are doses for one day.
Available in powdered root or as a tincture
The leaf blades (although not the stalks) of rhubarb contain enough
oxalic acid to cause poisoning. Fatalities have been reported when
using the leaves. Prolonged use is not advisable, rhubarb aggravates
any tendency toward chronic constipation. Pregnant women and nursing
mothers are cautioned against using rhubarb. Also avoid if gout or
arthritis is a problem. Use with caution on hemorrhoids.