Rhubarb, the wondrous drug and its medical benefits

Rhubarb, the wondrous drug and its medical benefits

Plants have serve mankind since centuries as they contain secondary metabolites that exert specific therapeutic effects. Rhubarb is commonly used worldwide herb and often known as “the wondrous drug” because of its extensive medicinal uses. It consists of dried rhizome and root of some rheum species and their hybrid of family polygonaceae. The genus Rheum consists of approximately 60 perennial species distribution around the world; several species are used in medicine, some for culinary purpose and few others are grown as ornament; about ten species occur in India

Rhubarb, the wondrous drug and its medical benefits

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a species of plant in the family Polygonaceae. Although rhubarb is not a true fruit, in the kitchen it is usually prepared as if it were most commonly, the stalks are cooked with sugar and used in pies, crumbles and other desserts. 

A number of varieties have been domesticated for human consumption, most of which are recognized as Rheum xhybridum by the Royal Horticultural Society. Rhubarb contains anthraquinones including rhein, and emodin and their glycosides, which impart cathartic and laxative properties. It is hence useful as a cathartic in case of constipation

Etymology of Rhubarb

The word rhubarb has been derived from Latin word “rha” (river) and “barb” (barbarian land). In ancient times, rhubarb roots were imported by Romans from barbarian lands which were beyond the Volga or Rha River. Imported from barbarians across the Rha, the plant became Rhabarbarum. According to Lindley’s Treasury of Botany, some authorities derive the name from the Greek rheo (‘to flow’), in allusion to the purgative properties of the root

Medical importance of Rhubarb

1. Alzheimer Disease: Rhubarb juice contains Vitamin K which is important for brain development. Vitamin K is essential to stop neuronal damage in the brain. Drinking rhubarb juice is beneficial in preventing and delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Anti-aging: Rhubarb has high amount of antioxidants to fight free radicals in the body, which cause premature aging. It contains Vitamin C, which helps in preventing sagging skin and wrinkles.

3. Anti-Inflammation: Rhubarb helps in promoting blood circulation. Drinking its juice helps to relieve pain in case of any injury. It also reduces inflammation.

4. Bone Strength: As mentioned before, rhubarb stalks contain vitamin K, which is essential for bone development. Rhubarb juice is the best option for people suffering from osteoporosis and other bone disorder. It not only contains vitamin K but is also rich in calcium, which is much needed for bone growth and development

5. Cholesterol: Rhubarb contains low level of saturated fats and sodium, which helps in reducing high cholesterol level.

6. Constipation: The stem and root of rhubarb have been found to have anthraquinone, a compound, which is laxative in nature and helps the digestion process run smoothly. People suffering from diarrhea or constipation can drink rhubarb juice to get relief.

7. Digestive Health: Rhubarb contains astringent properties, which makes an effective tonic for your digestive system. This prevents intestinal health issues, improves peristaltic movements, help ease chronic constipation too.

8. Cuts Cancer Risk: From ages, traditional Chinese medicine has been using rhubarbs to cure various ailments. Rhubarb has anti-tumor properties. It also contains Aloe-emodin, which along with Rhein, is used in medicine to kill tumor cells. Rhubarb juice is beneficial for those patients who want to recover from gastric cancer. It also helps fast recovery post-surgery.

9. Diabetes: Rhubarb contains stilbenoid, which helps in reducing blood sugar level.

10. Gallbladder: Rhubarb contains an ingredient called cholagogue, which helps to promote good digestive health

11. Immunity: Rhubarb is a good source of Vitamin C. This vitamin plays a vital role in strengthening the body’s immune system.

12. Liver Health: Rhubarb root is helpful for liver growth and drinking its juice can help reduce hepatitis B.

13. Improves Vision: The juice of rhubarb contains a good amount of Vitamin A, which helps in improving the. There are many more benefits that one can derive from drinking Rhubarb juice. Make this nutritious vegetable a part of your daily routine and live a healthy, fit life.

14. Delays Ageing Symptoms: Rhubarb is a storehouse of vitamin A. This natural antioxidant helps in neutralizing the free radicals and helps in delaying the symptoms of ageing such as wrinkles and fine lines. Thus, rhubarb keeps your skin youthful and glowing by preventing the cell damage by free radicals.

15. Natural Hair Coloring Agent: Rhubarb root contains a good dose of oxalic acid that is known to render a light brown or blonde hue to the hair. The presence of oxalic acid makes the hair color last longer and does not harm the scalp with harsh chemicals.

16. Promotes Weight Loss: Achieving your ideal weight can be made easy by adding rhubarb to your diet. 100 grams of rhubarb yields just 21 calories. It contains loads of dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, as well as polyphenolic antioxidants. The synergic action of all these nutrients improves body’s metabolism rate and ensures elimination of unwanted fat

17. Good Natural Detox Eliminating toxins from your body is very essential, especially when you are trying to lose weight. Rhubarb is rich in fiber and has wonderful laxative properties as mentioned before. This makes it a wonderful detoxifying agent.

18. Brain Health A healthy body and a healthy brain is what will keep you at the top of your game. 100gms of fresh rhubarb stalks is enough to render 29.3 micrograms of vitamin K that satisfies about 24% of the RDA. Along with safeguarding the brain from neuronal damage, this vitamin is known to play a pivotal role in offering relief to people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Further reading

1. Importance of Village Plant Rhubarb: Review by D K Sanghi 1, Rakesh Tiwle

2. Specialty Crop Profile: Rhubarb written by Anthony Bratsch, Extension Specialist, Vegetables and Small Fruit and Denise Mainville, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

3. Rheum emodi (Rhubarb): A Fascinating Herb written by Hina Rehman, Wajeeha Begum, Farzana Anjum, Humyra Tabasum


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