Synonyms: Canton Rhubarb, Chinese Rhubarb, Da Huang, Indian Rhubarb, Medicinal Rhubarb, Rhizoma Rhei, Rhubarb, Rhubarb Root, Rhubarbarum, Shensi Rhubarb, Ta Huang
Genus species: Rheum palmatum (Chinese Rhubarb), Rheum officinale, Rheum tanguticum, Rheum undulatum, Rheum coreanum
Type: Tall perennial
Part Used: Rhizome and roots with periderm tissues removed
Homeopathy: Tincture and trituration of dried root
Location: India, northwestern China, Pakistan (Pakistan variety usually does not meet pharmacopoeial standards), Tibet
Actions: Analgesic, antibacterial, antibilious, antibilious, anticancer, anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, antisecretory, aperient, astringent (0.1-0.2 g), bitter, cathartic (1-2 g), cholagogue, choleretic, depurative, laxative, stomachic (0.1-0.2 g), strong purgative, tonic, vermifuge
Indications: Abdominal pain, amenorrhea, biliousness, boil, burns, cancer (stomach), carbuncle, cervical cancer, congestion, constipation, dermatitis, diarrhea, dysentery, dysuria, edema, fever, headache, hemorrhoids, hepatitis, intestinal worms, jaundice, liver disorders, malaria, occasional constipation (conditions in which a soft stool is desirable, e.g. hemorrhoids, anal fissures, after rectal or anal operation), scald, sores, spleen disorders, tenesmus
Homeopathic Indications: Abnormal milk, ardor urinae, constipation, deafness, diarrhea, duodenitis, dysentery, dysuria, halitosis, headache, jaundice, kidney disorders, Meniere's disease, numb tongue, painful nipples, rheumatism, salivation, snoring, stomach disorders
Chemicals & Nutrients: Calcium, Calcium Oxalate (6%), Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Tannins (4-11%), Vitamin C
Preparation & Dosages: (3x/day)
Dried Root Bark: 1-2 g or by decoction
Liquid Extract: 1:1 in 25% alcohol, dose 1-2 ml
Laxative: daily dose, usually taken at bedtime, 1-4 g dried drug or in decoction
Astringent or Stomachic: dried drug, 0.1-0.3 g
Tincture: 1:5 in 50% alcohol and 10% glycerin, dose; 15-30 drops up to 4x/day
Contraindications: Abdominal pain, appendicitis, arthritis, colitis, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, diverticulosis, duodenal ulcer, esophageal reflux, gastrointestinal disease, gout, ileus, intestinal obstruction, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney disorders (esp. history of kidney stones), lactation, pregnancy, refulx esophagitis, spastic colitis, stomach ulcer, ulcerative colitis, urogenital disorders. Not recommended for children under 12 years of age.
Drug interactions: Potassium depletion from long term use/misuse may intensify the action of cardiac glycosides. May antagonize antidiarrheal drugs. Interferes with the absorption of iron and other minerals when taken internally.
Side Effects: (Possible adverse effects and/or overdose effects) With long term use or abuse: electrolyte losses, especially of potassium; pigmentation in the intestinal mucosa (melanosis coli). Abdominal cramps, diarrhea.
Warning: Not for long-term use. Do not use in excess of 8-10 days. In sufficient quantities, potassium or sodium oxalate (soluble forms) can cause the precipitation of calcium into calcium oxalate (insoluble form) in the blood causing hypocalcemia and acute kidney failure due to calcium oxalate crystals in the renal tubules. Tannins are incompatible with alkalies, gelatin, heavy metals, iron, lime water, metallic salts, strong oxidizing agents and zinc sulfate. Tannins precipitate proteins. Tannins may cause bowel irritation, kidney irritation, liver damage, irritation of the stomach and gastrointestinal pain. Long-term and/or excessive use of herbs containing high concentrations of tannins is not recommended. A correlation has been made between esophogeal or nasal cancer in humans and regular consumption of certain herbs with high tannin concentrations (Lewis, W.H. and M.P.F. Elvin-Lewis. 1977. Medical Botany. Plants Affecting Man's Health. New York: John Wiley & Sons.)