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 Herbal Materia Medica: Rhubarb Root 
Rheum palmatum

Part Used: Rhizome of Rheum palmatum and other species, not the garden rhubarb.


  • Anthraquinone derivatives such as chrysophanic acid (=chrysophanol),emodin, aloe-emodin, rhein & physcion, with their O-glycosides such asglucorhein, chrysophanein, glucoemodin; sennosides A-E, reidin C &others.

  • Tannins; in Chinese Rhubarb: d-catechin and epicatechin gallate, withvarious cinnamoyl and coumaroyl golloyl glucosides and fructoses.

  • Stilbene derivatives; related stilbene glycosides present in other types

  • Miscellaneous; volatile oil, containing diisobutyl phthalate, cinnamic and ferulic acids; rutin, fatty acids, calcium oxalate etc.

Actions: Bitter, laxative, astringent.

Indications: Rhubarb Root has a purgative action for use in the treatment of constipation, but also has an astringent effect following this. It therefore has a truly cleansing action upon the gut, removing debris and then astringing with antiseptic properties as well. Note: Rhubarb Root may color the urine yellow or red. Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "mild stimulating tonic to alimentary mucous membrane, liver and gall ducts -removes viscid mucus. Small doses - tonic hepatic. Large doses - cathartic."They give the following specific indications: diarrhoea and dysentary, summer diarrhoea, functional dyspepsia.

Ellingwood recommends it for the following patholgies: atonicconditions of the bowels, with debility or general relaxation, wether diarrhoea, dysentary, choleramorbus, cholera infantum.

King's Dispensatory gives it specific indications and uses as "gastricirritation, nausea, vomiting, elongated tongue reddened at tip and edges; irritative diarrhoea with tenderness on pressure; sour smelling discharges imparting to a child a sour odour; gastro-intestinal irritation with nervous irritability, restlessness, screaming and convulsive muscular contractions; constipation, with a sense of intestinal constriction and abdominal contraction; light-coloured fecal discharge

Preparations & Dosage: Decoction: put l/2 - l teaspoonful of the root in a cup of water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for l0 minutes.This should be drunk morning and evening. Tincture: take l-2ml of the tincture three times a day.

© David L. Hoffman, M.N.I.M.H.

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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
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