Decoding Chinese Herbs: Rhubarb


Chinese herbs have been used for centuries.  The first traditionally recognized herbalist, Shénnóng, is said to have lived around 2800 BC.  There are roughly 13,000 medicinals used in China and over 100,000 medicinal recipes recorded in the ancient literature.  In this blog post series, I highlight one Chinese herb and its healing properties:


healing properties of rhubarbIt sounds impossible, but, in Chinese Medicine, the root of rhubarb is used to treat both constipation and diarrhea!

That’s because Chinese rhubarb’s medicinal components fall into two categories: anthraglycosides and tannins. Anthraglycosides promote colon cleansing and cause laxative effects; astringents have the opposite effect. The dosage makes all the difference (small doses for diarrhea; larger doses for constipation).

Miraculously, rhubarb can enhance the appetite when it is taken before meals in small amounts and yet also promote weight loss when taken in larger doses because of its purgative effect on the digestive system, which increases contractions of the colon, promoting colon cleansing and eliminating bacteria. It is even said that the rhubarb root hampers the absorption of fat in the body cells.

But that’s not all the rhubarb root can do. It can be taken for the treatment liver and gall bladder complaints, indigestion, hemorrhoids, and skin eruptions due to an accumulation of toxins. Rhubarb can also help in slowing down renal failure, fight against loss of electrolytes, and even assist in treating Hepatitis B.

Additionally, rhubarb promotes blood circulation and relieves pain in cases of injury or inflammation. And, it is beneficial in treating scabs, sores, burns, and even conjunctivitis. Rhubarb can also help women gain relief from the symptoms of menstruation such as cramping and abdominal pain. Furthermore, used externally, rhubarb root can stop bleeding from minor wounds and treat small burns.

The next time you enjoy a slice of rhubarb pie, remember that the stalk fibers in the plant can also lower bad cholesterol! In fact,rhubarb, which has a low fat content, is rich in carbohydrates, potassium, calcium, sodium and iron.

Note: Rhubarb should not used by pregnant or nursing women, young children, or patients with intestinal obstruction, Chron’s disease, or colitis. As with any herbal or natural treatment , it is always advisable to consult your doctors first and alert them if you taking any prescribed medications so as prevent adverse side effects.


This entry was posted in Chinese Herbs. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.