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Rhubarb (Rheum officinale, Rheum palmatum)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Aloe-emodin, aloe-emodin-8-monoglucoside, Amaro Medicinale Giuliani, anthraglycosides, anthranoids, anthranols, anthraquinone, anthraquinone glucoside, anthraquinone O-glycosides, arabinose, Baoshen pill, bastard rhubarb, calcium oxalate, Canton rhubarb, catechin, Chinese rhubarb, chinesischer Rhabarber (German), chrysophanol, chrysophanol-1-monoglucoside, chong-gi-huang, common rhubarb, da-huang, dahuang liujingao, daio, danning pian, DHP-1, DHP-2, emodin, emodin-6-monoglucoside, English rhubarb, extractum rhei liquidum, fatty acids, flavonoids, galactose, galacturonic acid, gallotannin, garden rhubarb, glucoronic acid, glucose, heterodianthrones, heteroglycans, Himalayan rhubarb, hydroxyanthracene derivatives, Indian rhubarb, Japanese rhubarb, jiang-zhi, jinghuang tablet, liujingao (JZJFY), lyxose, medicinal rhubarb, monoanthrones, naphthalene glucoside, O-glucosides, oxalates, oxalic acid, palmidin A, palmidin B, palmidin C, pectin, phenolic carboxylic acids, physcion, physcion monoglucoside, piceatannol, piceatannol 3'-beta-D-glycoside, pie plant, pie rhubarb, Polygonaceae (family), procyanidin, qing shen tiao zhi, QSTZ, racine de rhubarbee (French), resin, RET, Rhabarber (German), rhamnose, rhaponticin, rhapontigenin, rhapontin, rhei radix, rhei rhizoma, rheidin B, rheidin C, rhein, rhein-8-monoglucoside, rheinoside A, rheinoside B, rheinoside C, rheinoside D, rheirhubarbe de chine (French), rheum, Rheum australe, Rheum E, Rheum emodi, Rheum emodi Wall, Rheum officinale Baill, Rheum rhabarbarum, Rheum rhaponticum, Rheum tanguticum Maxim, Rheum tanguticum Maxim. ex. Balf., Rheum tanguticum Maxim L., Rheum undulatum, Rheum webbianum, rheum x cultorum, rhizoma, rhubarb extract tablet, resin, rubarbo, ruibarbo (Spanish), rutin, sennidin C, sennoside A, sennoside B, shengxue, shenlong oral liquid, shenshi rhubarb, starch, stilbenes, sugars, sweet round-leaved dock, tai huang, tannins, Turkey rhubarb, Turkish rhubarb, volatile oil, wine plant, xin qin ning, XQN, xylose.
  • Selected combination products: Certobil® (dehydrocholic acid, rhubarb, cascara, boldo, manna), Cholaflux® (achillea, aloes, aniseed, caraway, fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), greater celandine, Jamaican dogwood, licorice, peppermint leaf, Potentilla anserine, rhubarb, Silybum marianum, Spinacia oleracea, taraxacum, turmeric), Essiac® (burdock root (Arctium lappa), sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella), slippery elm (Ulmus fulva), Turkey rhubarb (Rheum palmatum)) (1), Pyralvex® (salicylic acid, rhubarb extract) (2;3), Swedish bitters (rhubarb, aloe, senna), TB1 (ginseng leaf, cistanche, fleeceflower root, immature bitter orange, rhubarb, etc.) (4).
  • Note: Garden (English) rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum or Rheum rhaponticum) is considered food rather than a medicinal herb and contains very small amount of anthraquinones.
  • Note: Although Essiac® contains medicinal rhubarb, information specific to it is not included in this monograph. Please see the Natural Standard monograph on Essiac® for more information.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Chinese herbalists have relied on rhubarb rhizomes and roots for thousands of years. The rhizomes and roots contain powerful anthraquinones and tannins that act as stimulant laxatives and astringents, respectively. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is also used to treat gastric ulcers, chronic renal failure, and pregnancy-induced hypertension, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia.
  • The current practice of using rhubarb to treat cancer (as an ingredient in the herbal Essiac® formula) lacks the support of controlled clinical trials. However, rhubarb is being tested for multiple other conditions, including hyperlipidemia and obesity.
  • Use for gingivitis, chronic renal failure and upper gastrointestinal bleeding seem to be the most promising, although more research should be done in these areas, specifically with rhubarb as a monotherapy.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.