Rhubarb ruibarbo Emodin
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radix et rhizoma rhei
rhubarb ruibarbo emodin
Latin: Radix et Rhizoma Rhei
The root and rhizome of Rheum palmatum L. (sorrel rhubarb) , Rheum tanguticum Maxim. et Balf. (Tangut rhubarb) or Rheum officinale Baill. (medicinal rhubarb) , a perennial herb, of the Polygonaceae family.
Rhubarb refers to any of several species of the genus Rheum. Rhubarb is best adapted to the cooler parts of the temperate zones. The perennial grows to about 2 m by 0.8 m. It is in flower from June to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by wind. The plant requires well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.
The plant's fleshy, tart, and highly acid leafstalks are used in pies, often with strawberries, in compotes and preserves, and sometimes as the base of a wine or an aperitif. The roots withstand cold well, although the tops are killed in autumn.
The rhubarb's leaves contain a toxic substance called oxalic acid and are usually not eaten, except in certain areas of the Himalayas, where they may be cooked and consumed.
The species of this page is native to east Asia, and is grown in China and Japan. In China, the sorrel rhubarb (Rheum palmatum) and Tangut rhubarb (Rheum tanguticum) are called northern rhubarb and mainly produced in the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, etc. , while medicinal rhubarb is called southern rhubarb and mainly produced in Sichuan province.
The herb is harvested when the stems and leaves wither at the end of autumn or when the sprouts come out the following spring. Fibrous roots are removed from the root, then peeled, cut into pieces and dried for use when raw or after being parched with wine, steamed with wine or charred.
Also called Pieplant.
Bitter in flavor, cold in nature, it is related to the spleen, stomach, large intestine, liver and heart channels.
Eliminates stagnant food by purgation, clears away fire to purge it, arrests bleeding, removes toxic substances and promotes blood circulation by removing blood stasis.
Rhubarb has a long and proven history of herbal usage, its main effect being a positive and balancing effect upon the whole digestive system. It is one of the most widely used herbs in Chinese medicine.
1. To treat constipation and food stagnation in the stomach and intestines:
(A) Constipation and food stagnation in the stomach and intestines:
Use it with mirabilite, immature citron or trifoliate orange (Fructus Aurantii Immaturus) and official magnolia bark, e. g. , Da Chengqi Tang in order to strengthen the effects of relieving constipation by purgation and expelling pathogenic heat.
(B) Excess syndrome in the interior with the accumulation of heat, accompanied by deficiency of both qi and blood or by loss of body fluids due to yin deficiency:
Use it with herbs for the nourishment of qi and blood or for the replenishment of yin to promote the production of body fluid.
(C) Constipation due to cold stagnation of food as a result of insufficiency of spleen-yang:
Use it with herbs for the warming of the interior, such as monkshood root (Radix Aconiti Praeparata) , dried ginger, etc. , e. g. , Weipi Tang.
(D) Initial attacks of dysentery due to damp-heat and abdominal pain with tenesmus (a distressing but ineffectual urge to evacuate the rectum or bladder) :
Use it with Chinese goldthread rhizome (Rhizoma Coptidis) , aucklandia root, etc. , in order to clear stagnated food in the large intestine.
(E) Abdominal pain due to stagnation of food and diarrhea without smooth defecation:
Use it with dried green orange peel, aucklandia root, etc. , in order to purge stagnant food to remove stagnancy.
2. To treat hematemesis, epistaxis and hemoptysis due to blood heat and ailments caused by flaming-up of pathogenic fire such as conjunctivitis, sore throat, gingivitis, etc. :
Use it with Chinese goldthread rhizome (Rhizoma Coptidis) and skullcap root (Radix Scutellariae) , e. g. , Xiexin Tang. In modern clinical treatment of bleeding of the digestive tract, rhubarb powder alone has quite good curative effects .
3. To treat skin and external diseases due to toxic heat and burns and scalds:
(A) Carbuncles and furuncles due to toxic heat:
Use it with honeysuckle flower (Flos Lonicerae) , dandelion (Herba Taraxaci) , weeping forsythia fruit (Fructus Forsythiae) , etc. As this herb can clear away toxic heat and subdue swelling, it can be used externally by being ground into powder and mixed with honey for the application onto the affected part.
(B) Abdominal pain:
Use it with tree peony root-bark, peach kernels, etc. , e. g. , Dahuang Mudan Tang.
(C) Aphthae of the mouth and tongue:
Ground it with dried alum into powder and applied onto the affected part.
(D) Scalds and burns:
Its powder can be used alone or in combination with garden burnet root (Radix Sanguisorbae) powder and mixed with sesame oil for application onto the affected part.
4. To treat syndromes of blood stasis:
This herb has a better effect on promoting blood circulation by removing blood stasis, so it is a common herb for the treatment of blood stasis syndromes.
(A) Postpartum abdominal pain due to stasis and obstruction with unexpelled lochia:
Use it with peach kernels, ground beetle, etc. , e. g. , Xia Yuxue Tang.
(B) Dysmenorrhea due to blood stasis:
Use it with safflower, Chinese angelica, etc.
(C) Traumatic injuries with blood stasis, swelling and pain:
Use it with peach kernels, safflower, pangolin scale, etc. , e. g. , Fuyuan Huoxue Tang.
5. To treat ailments due to damp-heat, such as jaundice, strangury, etc. :
(A) Jaundice due to damp-heat:
Use it with capillary artemisia (Herba Artemisiae Scopariae) and cape jasmine fruit (Fructus Gardeniae) , e. g. , Yinchen Hao Tang.
(B) Strangury due to damp-heat:
Use it with five-leaf akebia stem (Caulis Akebiae) , Asian plantain seed (Semen Plantaginis) , cape jasmine fruit (Fructus Gardeniae) , etc. , e. g. , Bazheng San.
Dosage and Administration:
Decoct the herb and the other ingredients for drinking. Use an adequate amount externally.
Raw rhubarb has considerable purgative power, so it is suitable to be used when raw for catharsis. It should be decocted later when it is included in a decoction or it can be soaked in boiled water for oral administration.
Its purgative power will be weakened if it is decocted for a long time. Rhubarb prepared with wine has a weaker purgative power, but it has a better effect on promoting blood circulation, so it is suitable for use to promote blood circulation by removing blood stasis. Charred rhubarb is mostly used for bleeding syndromes.
Cautions on Use:
As this herb is so bitter and cold as to be liable to impair stomach-qi, it should be used carefully by those deficient in spleen-yang. Since it is sinking and lowering in properties and good at promoting blood circulation by removing blood stasis, it should be avoided by women during pregnancy, menstruation or lactation.
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the leaves of some if not all members of this genus contain significant quantities of oxalic acid and should not be eaten in any quantity. Oxalic acid can lock up certain minerals in the body, especially calcium, leading to nutritional deficiency. The content of oxalic acid will be reduced if the plant is cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.