Rhubarb comes from a group of plants of the genus Rheum of the family Polygonaceae. It is a perennial plant which grows from a thick, short rhizome. The leaves are large and triangular-shaped. The flowers are small and form inflorescences of a rosy-red color.
The leaves, although toxic, have many culinary and medicinal uses. Rhubarb is featured in Chinese pharmacology. The most common known use of rhubarb is the fresh stalk which is cooked. They are similar to celery, but have a red coloration and a sharp taste. It is used for making pies among other foods.
Medically, rhubarb is used as a laxative. Its laxative properties have been known for about 5000 years. Rhubarb leaves are known to have toxic properties due to oxalic acid content in them.
Traditionally, rhubarb was used in Chinese medicine. Today, rhubarb still has several medicinal uses. Some of them are given below:
It is believed that rhubarb can reduce the risk of cancer. This is because the structure of rhubarb and certain anthraquinones (laxatives) have common cell structures and the major anthraquinone in rhubarb is embodin, which inhibits proliferation of cells which is the primary function of cancer-fighting drugs.
Following a series of experiments, a relation was established between a rhubarb extract and vasorelaxant actions. Dilation of vascular muscles was observed along with reduction in vascular inflammation. The overall indications were increased platelet count and an improvement in the platelet aggregation.
Muscle constriction is thought to be improved with rhubarb. This is particularly useful in blood pressure control.
Rhubarb is also beneficial in controlling cholesterol levels in the body.
It is also used as an anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory remedy.
Anyone who is suffering from the above health conditions can benefit by taking rhubarb.
Some side effects may occur if the person has cancer or any vascular problems. There are however contradictory opinions on this subject. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous due to the presence of oxalic acid and another unknown toxin.
As there are several contradictory theories of the dosage of rhubarb, it is best advised to take this supplement in consultation with your doctor and with reference to the recommendations given on the packaging.
Disclaimer: While there are several existing benefits from taking rhubarb, the inferences of this article are not binding and may change in the context of further evidence, as research still goes on in matters related to rhubarb.