Usually, rhubarb has been used with safety concerns and restrictions. However, its roots undeniably contain abundant health benefits. As a matter of fact, it has a long history of medicinal uses for various kinds of health problems. Here are several things you need to know about this rare plant.
What are the Benefits of Rhubarb?
- A good source of antioxidants
- Alleviates PMS and menopausal symptoms
- Supports gut health
- Keeps the heart healthy
- Improves symptoms of pancreatitis
- Helps reduce kidney disease symptoms
- Improves liver disease symptoms
Rhubarb contains antioxidant properties, such as proanthocyanidins and anthocyanins. They are responsible for its many health benefits.
The red colour of this herb is because of its anthocyanin content. (1)
Another study also suggests that it has a higher amount of polyphenol than kale. (1)
Rhubarb helps relieve menopausal and PMS symptoms too.
A number of clinical trials displayed the support for this. They showed that rhubarb reduced menopause symptoms in women with this condition without altering the uterus health. One of these symptoms is severe and frequent hot flashes. (1, 2, 3)
In addition, women experienced a reduction of menstrual pain by taking 1, 260 milligrams of Himalayan rhubarb twice daily. The effect was similar to that of the painkiller mefenamic acid. (1)
Another health benefit is improving your gut function and keeping it healthy as possible.
A clinical trial was conducted and resulted in better gut function in 30 subjects, with the help of 10 grams Chinese rhubarb. It was taken three times a day by nasal-type of feeding. (1)
Based on other clinical trials, rhubarb may also help with digestive tract bleeding, intestinal infection, and recovery from surgery. (1, 2, 3)
Rhubarb has the ability to support heart health too.
It aids in the reduction of LDL cholesterol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and triglycerides levels.
According to a study, improved artery health is possible with the help of rhubarb. It can reduce LDL cholesterol levels too. This clinical study was conducted in 83 subjects with clogged arteries. (1)
Another study revealed that diastolic and systolic blood pressure can be lowered with the help of this herb. In fact, it has the same effect as that of the standard drug. (1)
Furthermore, rhubarb may help reduce pancreatitis symptoms.
In several clinical trials, this herb was used as a treatment in people suffering from pancreatic inflammation. At the end of the study, there was an improvement in their condition. (1, 2)
Also, the safety and efficacy of this plant were revealed in a meta-analysis of 16 clinical trials. In these, rhubarb was used together with typical treatment for inflammation of the pancreas. (1)
People with kidney disease may benefit from rhubarb as well. These include those who are experiencing kidney failure, diabetic kidney disease, and kidney inflammation. (1, 2, 3)
Finally, rhubarb may also help in improving the symptoms of those who have problems with their liver. These include cirrhotic ascites, infantile cholestatic hepatitis syndrome, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. (1, 2, 3)
This herb can potentially improve bile flow, decrease fatty liver, and increase liver function. Of course, these are possible in conjunction with standard treatments.
Despite the fact that this plant is traditional Chinese medicine, more science-backed studies need to be done. When it comes to supplementation, getting advice from your healthcare provider is important.
What is Rhubarb?
Rhubarb is a rare vegetable in the genus Rheum. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has formally classified it as a fruit.
Being known for its sour taste and thick stalks, it is usually sweetened and cooked. Its stalks resemble that of celery and may vary in colour. It can be typically from pink to red to pale green.
The leaves of this plant tend to be poisonous though its stalks are used for cooking. This is due to its high oxalic acid concentration. Also, other chemical components are considered to be toxic.
Rhubarb is native to Europe and North America. It can also be found in India, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Nepal, and China.
It is grown in cold seasons, mostly in temperate and mountainous regions across the globe.
Rheum x hybriddum, also known as garden or culinary rhubarb, is the most common among other varieties.
The rhizomes and roots of this plant have medicinal uses. They have been used in Asia traditionally for thousands of years.
In the United States and Britain, the cooked stems of this herb appeared to have culinary uses.
How Does Rhubarb Work?
Several nutrients are present in rhubarb, including lutein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and others. These are important to boost eye health, fight off infections, maintain healthy bones, and help protect your body from diseases.
This plant is rich in fiber too. Other active components include rhein, emodin, chrysophanol, aloe-emodin, and sennosides. Others are catechins, glucose gallates, naphthalenes, complex sugars, stilbenes, and tannins.
These active components in rhubarb have laxative, antibacterial, antioxidant, liver-protective, anticancer, and cholesterol-lowering effects. (1, 2, 3)
How Do I Take Rhubarb?
Rhubarb can be eaten either cooked or raw, particularly its edible stalks. These grow with 2.5 to 5 centimeters in diameter and 45 centimeters long.
They are normally being made into flavouring agents, wine, juices, crumbles, tarts, sauces, jams, pies, sweet soups, and jellies.
When eaten raw, it has sour taste with a slightly sweet flavour. When eaten cooked, it is usually used as an ingredient or sweetened with sugar.
In addition, rhubarb is available in other forms. They include capsules, tablets, powder, dried root pieces, tea, tinctures, infusions, and extracts.
The user’s medical condition as well as the type of rhubarb form to be taken matter when it comes to dosage. In some clinical trials, 50 milligrams to 50 grams of daily doses have been used.
A daily dose of 10 to 30 grams per day of crude powder form is common for the Chinese.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), between 10 to 30 milligrams of the anthracene derivatives is the average dosage per consumption.
Rhubarb is also applied to the skin, mainly for cold and canker sores.
Can I Take Rhubarb Along with Vitamins and Medicines?
Some interactions may occur when rhubarb is taken along with other medicines.
These include digoxin (Lanoxin), corticosteroids, nephrotoxic drugs, stimulant laxatives, warfarin (coumadin), water pills (diuretic drugs), and other oral drugs.
Is Rhubarb Safe?
Roots and rhizomes of rhubarb are possibly safe in the amounts found in supplements and foods. In fact, these parts produce the medicinal extracts and are considered to be non-toxic.
The leaves of rhubarb have extremely high concentrations of oxalic acids. These are toxic compounds and they can cause harm when consumed. Large doses of oxalate or oxalic acid can be lethal.
The stalks, on the other hand, are safer to eat because of low oxalic acid content. Some varieties of rhubarb may contain a high content of these toxic compounds.
Some side effects associated with this plant may include abdominal pain, seizures, nausea, changes in urine color, skin rash, high liver enzymes, vomiting, weakness, and difficulty in breathing.
Others reported eye pain, burning sensation in the throat and mouth, diarrhoea, and worse, death.
Children with age under 4 years old are nor advised to take rhubarb stalks although it has lesser oxalic acids. If you are a pregnant or breastfeeding mother, it is unsafe to take greater than the amounts found in foods.
It may worsen kidney diseases, liver problems, and other health conditions as well.
The cooking process helps reduce the amount of oxalate in rhubarb. It should be eaten in moderation and opting for dietary supplements is better.
How Will Rhubarb Benefit Me?
Missing the health benefits that you can get from rhubarb is definitely a loss. This plant, particularly its roots, can provide remedies especially for those health issues mentioned above.
So, if you want to be healthy and in good shape, do not forget to include rhubarb in your diet. Or you can get a supplement now!