Rhubarb is a tall, pungent and bitter, perennial herb. It has root with large radical leaves and very stout stems. Rhubarb stalks consists of substantial amount of moisture, protein, minerals, fat, fiber and carbohydrates. Their mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, iron, phosphorus and vitamin C.
The dried rhizomes, that is, the underground stems producing roots and leaf shoots of the plant, constitute the drug. The rhizomes should be collected from six or seven year old plants just before the flowering seasons. The root barks should be retained.
The rhizomes of rhubarb yield glucoside rhaponticin and chrysophanic acid. The chief constituents of the herb are antheoquinone derivatives. The roots contain rhein and emodin. Rhizomes also yield an essential oil containing eugenol, a terpene alcohol and a product believed to be methyle heptyl ketone.
Botanical Name: Rheum emodi
Indian Name: Revand chini
Below are some of the medicinal properties of rhubarb:
- Due to its astringent action, rhubarb can be taken with beneficial results in cases of diarrhea caused by the presence of any irritating substances in the intestines.
- Rhubarb is a valuable home remedy for poison ivy. Raw rhubarb rubbed over the area where it itches, gives relief. The treatment is repeated if itching persists.
- Rhubarb is an effective remedy in ailments of children. It is a safe purgative and also reduces excessive acidity in the digestive tract of children. Sometimes children develop diarrhea due to excessive consumption of milk which causes putrefaction and consequently increases the acidity in the stomach. Rhubarb expels the putrefied faecal matter simultaneously reduces the acidity. Despite its constipate after effect, the motion stops automatically after the bowels are cleaned. Its dose is one gram for infants up to 2 years old.
- The herb is employed in allopathic medicine largely as a purgative. It contains tannins and therefore, after purgation, it creates and astringent effect which causes constipation. It is thus suitable only in mild cases of constipation and not in chronic ones.
- Rhubarb is also beneficial in treating biliousness, agitated mind, lumbago, sore eyes, piles, chronic bronchitis, chronic fever, asthma and coryza, pains and bruises.
Rhubarb contains a considerable amount of oxalic acid. Daily use can lead to the formation of stones either in the kidney or the bladder and distressing nervous symptoms. It should be avoided altogether by those who have a tendency to wounds, gout, rheumatism, epilepsy and other associated diseases with uric acid.