Rhubarb - Effective Herb for Digestion
Rheum palmatum Polygonaceae Also called Chinese rhubarb
Native to north-east Asia this species of rhubarb - unlike the more familiar garden variety - is used as a herbal remedy. A tall herbaceous plant it has very thick fleshy leafstalks and wide jagged palm-shaped leaves. Loose clusters of tiny star-shaped whitegreenish or reddish flowers appear in July and August,Jollowed by dry winged fruits. Only the bulky rhizome is of medicinal value.
The components in Chinese rhubarb that are responsible for its laxative action are anthracene derivatives, mainly consisting in the dried rhizome of anthraquinone glycosides. Flavonoids and tannins are also present. The latter are thought to be responsible for the constipation sometimes induced by low doses of rhubarb.
PREPARATION AND DOSAGE
For internal use
TO TREAT constipation DECOCTION Boil 20g of dried or 40g of fresh rhubarb rhizome with 750ml water and simmer to reduce to around 500ml. Take 50-100ml in the early evening.
TO TREAT lack of appetite DECOCTION Take 10ml of the decoction (see above) twice a day.
IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST CONSULT A DOCTOR
Rhubarb is an extremely effective laxative, although very low doses have sometimes been known to cause constipation. Numerous studies have revealed how the plant stimulates the intestinal muscles and increases the absorption of water and electrolytes. However, rhubarb preparations should not be used for longer than ten consecutive days, because of the danger of developing laxative-induced illnesses, such as colitis, diarrhoea, electrolyte imbalances and hypokalemia (a reduction of potassium in the blood).
Recent studies in China have shown that rhubarb preparations can actually help to cleanse the blood by reducing excessive amounts of ureaand other nitrogenous waste prod ucts in it.
It is thought that this is due to direct action by the plant on the kidneys, which further research has revealed may also help to limit inflammation in cases of chronic renal failure.Chinese scientists have also shown that the plant can inhibit the chain of reactions in the body that leads to the constriction of blood vessels.Rhubarb is also used to stimulate the appetite and improve digestion, as well as to treat liver and gallbladder problems and to soothe inflammation and oral infections.
Chinese rhubarb can be grown from seeds, sown in late winter, or from root cuttings planted in late autumn. It prefers moist, well-drained soil, rich in humus, and exposure to plenty of sunshine.
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