Herbs & Plants

Rheum palmatum

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Botanical Name :Rheum palmatum
Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Rheum
Species: R. palmatum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Common Names:Turkish rhubarb, Turkey rhubarb, Chinese rhubarb, Indian rhubarb, Russian rhubarb or rhubarb root

Habitat :Rheum palmatum  is native in the regions of western China, northern Tibet, and the Mongolian Plateau,  Chinese Rhubarb was used immensely in other parts of the world, such as Europe, for hundreds of years before its source of plant identity was actually discovered in the 18th century. As a consequence of these findings, today Chinese rhubarb is also found flourishing in the West and in the wild. It is extensively cultivated, no doubt for its great medicinal advantages and uses. Like all flowering plants, it is grown from the protective coat of a seed in the spring, or by “root division” in the seasons of Spring or Autumn, where the temperature is not yet too hot or too cold. A rather spacious environment where it can receive an abundance of sunlight for the production of sugars, as well as its development in “well-drained soil,” proves to be most efficient for the augmentation of this species. Since it is the roots and rhizome which serve as this plant’ source of medicinal usage, special care is taken in their preparation. When 6–10 years old, the rhizomes of these plants are removed from the ground in the Autumn when both its stems and leaves changed to yellow wild. Furthermore, the removal of the lateral rootlets and the crown are removed, leaving only the root. Any debris around the root is cleaned off, the coarse exterior bark removed, and the root cut and divided into cube-like pieces to increase its surface area, thereby decreasing the time needed for drying.

The species ““R. tanguticum”” and ““R. officinale,”” also under the categorical term of the Chinese drug ““da-huang,”” are closely related to ““Rheum palmatum””. Today, these three species are regarded as superior in performance to other species-existing rhubarbs.Though “”Rheum palmatum”” is commonly misinterpreted to be one in the same with the familiar “”R. rhubarbarum”” garden rhubarb we eat, there are several facets falsifying this assumption. Size is the most evident of the facets used to differentiate these two closely related species. While most garden species only grow to a mere few feet in height, Chinese rhubarb can produce as high as a “six to ten foot jointed stalk,” with loosely branched clusters of flowers along the tips that mature red in color from their often yellow or white blooms.

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It is hardy to zone 7. It is in flower from June to July, and the seeds ripen from July to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.

Its leaves are rather “large, jagged and hand – shaped,” growing in width of at least two to three feet. It is important to recognize that only those species of “”rheum”” with lobed leaves are accredited for their medicinal use Subsequently, garden rhubarb, “”R. rhubarbarum,”” as well as any other variety of species with either “wavy” or “undulating leaves” are not founded for any medicinal purpose. Additionally, one can decipher Chinese rhubarb by its rather thick, deep roots whereas the perennial garden plant is composed predominantly of “fleshy rhizomes and buds .

Prefers a deep, fertile, moderately heavy, humus rich, moisture retentive, well-drained soil in sun or semi-shade. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn. Hardy to at least -15°c. A very ornamental plant, there is at least one named variety. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. The sub-species R. palmatum tanguticum is cultivated as a medicinal plant in China, it was at one time a popular purgative in Europe. Plants in this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits. Turkish rhubarb is a good companion plant for columbine (Aquilegia spp).

Seed – best sown in autumn in a shaded cold frame[200]. The seed can also be sown in spring in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter, planting them out in the spring. Division in early spring or autumn. Divide up the rootstock with a sharp spade or knife, making sure that there is at least one growth bud on each division. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Edible Uses:  Leaf stem are eaten raw or cooked . The stem is superior in flavour to the common rhubarb and quite tender. An acid flavour, it is sometimes used as a cooked fruit substitute.

Medicinal Uses:
Anticholesterolemic; Antiseptic; Antispasmodic; Antitumor; Aperient; Astringent; Cholagogue; Demulcent; Diuretic; Homeopathy; Laxative; Purgative; Stomachic; Tonic.
click to see:The cut-up and dry root of Chinese rhubarb
Chinese rhubarb, called Da Huang in China, 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[238]. It has a safe and gentle action, safe even for children to use. The plant is also part of a North American formula called essiac which is a popular treatment for cancer. Its effectiveness has never been reliably proven or disproven since controlled studies have not been carried out. The other herbs included in the formula are Arctium lappa, Ulmus rubra and Rumex acetosella. The root is anticholesterolemic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitumor, aperient, astringent, cholagogue, demulcent, diuretic, laxative, purgative, stomachic and tonic. The roots contain anthraquinones, which have a purgative effect, and also tannins and bitters, which have an opposite astringent effect. When taken in small doses, it acts as an astringent tonic to the digestive system, whilst larger doses act as a mild laxative. The root is taken internally in the treatment of chronic constipation, diarrhoea, liver and gall bladder complaints, haemorrhoids, menstrual problems and skin eruptions due to an accumulation of toxins. This remedy is not prescribed for pregnant or lactating women, nor for patients with intestinal obstruction. Externally, the root is used in the treatment of burns. The roots are harvested in October from plants that are at least six years old, they are then dried for later use. A homeopathic remedy is prepared from the dried root. This is used especially in the treatment of diarrhoea in teething children.

For centuries the rhizome of the Turkey rhubarb was highly regarded by the Chinese for its medicinal properties.  Modern research has justified its reputation.  It contains anthraquinones, which have a purgative effect, and tannins and bitters which have the opposite effect.  If taken in small quantities the tonic, aperient effect predominates and it is therefore useful in cases of appetite loss and acute diarrhea.  Used to treat constipation, dysentery, hemorrhoids, portal congestion, pin/thread worms, skin eruptions from faulty elimination, blood in the stool and duodenal ulcers.  It has a truly cleansing action upon the gut, removing debris, and then astringing with antiseptic properties as well. It is used externally to promote healing, counteract blood clots and promote menstruation.  Stronger doses are laxative after 8-10 hours and are used to treat chronic constipation.  Rhubarb is included in some proprietary preparations and is also a component of herbal tea mixtures and digestive powders.  In 1987 a research team investigated extracts of 178 Chinese herbs for antibacterial activity against one of the major microorganisms in human intestinal flora.  Only Rhubarb was found to have significant activity.  The herb can be applied to burns, boils, and carbuncles.  It is a useful mouthwash for canker sores.

Other Uses:
Fungicide; Ground cover; Insecticide.
An insect spr
ay is made from the leaves. This spray is also said to help prevent clubroot of brassicas. The cultivar ‘Atrosanguineum’ can be used as a ground cover plant in a sunny position. Other forms can also be used, they are best planted about 1.8 metres apart each way.

Known Hazards:  The leaves are poisonous. This report probably refers to high levels of oxalic acid found in the leaves. Perfectly safe in moderate quantities, oxalic acid can lock up certain minerals (especially calcium) in the body, leading to nutritional deficiency. Cooking the plant will reduce its content of oxalic acid. 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

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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