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Botanical Name: Rheum officinale
Family: Polygonaceae (buckwheat)
Species: R. officinale
Parts Used :Rhubarb Root
Taste/smell: Bitter, sour, astringent.
Common Name: Chinese Rhubarb
Habitat: : Rheum officinale is native to E. Asia – Tibet. It grows in the hills and forest understories at elevations of 1200 – 4000 metres in western China;
Rheum officinale is perennial herb ,growing to 2 m (6ft) by 1.5 m (5ft).
It is hardy to zone 7. It is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.
The plant prefers medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist soil.
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 about -20°c. A very ornamental plant, it is closely related to R. australe. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Cultivated as a medicinal plant in China. Plants at the Cambridge Botanical Gardens in September 1993 were growing well in the shade of a woodland garden, though they were not succeeding when planted closely to the trees. Plants in this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits.
Seed – best sown in autumn in a shaded cold frame. 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 Parts: Stem.
Leaf stem – cooked or raw. Rather medicinal. One report says that the plant contains 1.3% rutin. It does not specify which part of the plant, though it is likely to be the leaves.
Anticholesterolemic; Antiseptic; Antispasmodic; Antitumor; Aperient; Astringent; Cholagogue; Diuretic; Stomachic; Tonic.
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. 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.
When rhubarb is roasted or boiled long enough, the purgative property is largely destroyed, while the astringency remains. Rhubarb is generally employed in combination with other laxatives, rendering it more effective. The powder is applied to indolent ulcers. Applied to burns it relieves pain and swelling. Rhubarb extracts have also cured upper digestive tract bleeding. One hospital studied three kinds of alcoholic extracted tablets of rhubarb for a period of 10 years. Employing a double-blind method, patients in each of the three groups, showed an efficiency of over 90% in curing the bleeding. An extract from the roots is used in doses of 0.2-0.5g in digestive complaints and as an appetite stimulant. Small doses stop diarrhea, large doses work as a purgative. Tinctura rhei is excellent for stomach complaints.
Plants can be grown for ground cover when spaced about 1.8 metres apart each way.
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.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care pr