Turkish Rhubarb Root

Turkish Rhubarb Root

Botanical Name:
Rheum palmatum, rheum officinale.

Turkish rhubarb root. Chinese rhubarb, Da huang, rheum, rhubarb rhizome or root, rhabarberwurzel (German), racine de rhubarb turque (French)

Family of the plygonaceae, found in China, Tibet, and Southern Russia. It is a sizable plant which grows among waterways or among rivers high in the mountains. The roots are tuberous and richly branched. The leaves are seven-lobed, hand-shaped (palmate) and the stem is plump and fleshy.

A Species of the herb was brought to North America from Europe. It is cultivated outside of its native territory and id also used for ornament purposes.

Active Ingredients:
Vitamin A, B complex, C, calcium, chlorine, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, zinc, free anthraquinones (60-70%), dianthones (making up 30-40% of the hydroxyanthracenic contents), resin, glucogallin, gallic acid, catechol, epicatechin-gallate, tannins (5-10%), bioflavonoids (a.e. rutin), polyphenols, pectin, essential oils, starch, oxalics rich in oxygen.

Beneficial Qualities:
  • Alterative
  • Sialagogue action stimulates the secretion of saliva from the salivary glands
  • Mild laxative, stimulates peristalsis of the intestines
  • Stimulates excretion of mucus in the large intestine
  • Cleanses the liver
  • Stimulates excretion of gall (cholagogue)
  • Generally reinforces (tonic)
  • Strengthens the stomach (stomachic)
  • Stimulates the appetite
  • Astringent
  • Antibiotic
  • Anti-tumor
  • Anti-parasitical against intestinal worms (anthelminthic)
  • Promotes digestion
  • Cooling herb with tonic qualities
  • Known to help sores of the duodenum
  • Ideal for challenges of the spleen, liver , or colon
  • Strengthens and tightens body tissues

Historically or traditionally known to support the body's function and physiology as or in:

  • Constipation, intestinal problems,
  • Inflammation of the large intestine,
  • Dysentery, bloated feeling
  • Decreased appetite
  • Liver and gall disorders
  • Hepatitis

Side Effects:
Rhubarb has an astringent effect when used in small doses, so consume additional water. Large doses had a laxative effect. Rhubarb can render urine more yellow or even slightly red. Due to the high oxalic content of the leaves ( which may possibly be toxic), use of the stalk is preferred.

(These apply to the fresh plant): Not to be used during pregnancy as it may cause cramping or stomach griping (may stimulate menstruation), or while breast-feeding (render milk bitter). The herb is most effective when used sparingly or in combination with other herbs. Prolonged use of the single herb is not recommended. Large amounts are purgative. Some people are allergic to rhubarb.

Rhubarb has a long history of herbal usage. Although the leaves are potentially toxic, various parts of the plants have excellent medicinal uses. The primary result of rhubarb root as an herbal medicine is an astringent, cleansing, positive and balancing effect upon the digestive system. Rhubarb is one of the most widely used herbs in Chinese medicine. Rhubarb roots are harvested in the fall. There are three types of rhubarb, of which the Turkish or Chinese type is one. The herb is used to increase appetite and small amounts are added to wine or to make aperitifs. Protracted use of the single herb promotes the removal of excess bodily fluids, so extra care should be taken to be sure that adequate water and electrolytes are ingested, including potassium and other minerals. For this reason, rhubarb by itself is administered for short periods of time. However, the beneficial qualities of the herb can be enhanced when combined with other complementary herbs and diluted. Protracted use of the rheum palmatum can lead to disruption of the water and electrolyte balance, and the risk of a lack of potassium.

The Turkey Rhubarb grows remarkably quickly, hence its use as an ornamental. Rhubarb root powder acts as a simple and safe purgative, being regarded as one of the most valuable herbal remedies affecting a brisk, healthy cleanse, without clogging the bowels and producing constipation. The root is used as an anticholesterolemic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aperients, astringent, cholagogue, demulcent, diuretic, laxative, purgative, stomachic and tonic. Rhubarb roots contain anthraquinones which have a peristaltic effect; the astringents, tannins combine to make a unique tonic herb especially useful in a blend.

Turkish Rhubarb root is well known for helping detoxify the bowel, cleanse the liver, and reduce abnormal cell division. Also Rhubarb root helps to normalize bowel movements and is considered a safe and effective laxative. The leaves of the Turkey Rhubarb are palmate and somewhat rough. The root is thick, of an oval or conical shape, sending off long, tapering branches; externally it is brown, internally a deep yellow color. Fresh raw stalks are crisp (similar to celery) with a strong tart taste; most commonly the plant's stalks are cooked and used in pies and other foods for their tart flavor.

Rhubarb has been used for medical purposes by the Chinese for thousands of years and appears in The Divine Farmer's Herb-Root Classic which legend attributes to the mythical Shen Nung, the Yan Emperor, but it is thought to have been compiled about 2700 BC.

The plant has grown wild along the banks of the River Volga for centuries but this variety was known to the West as Russian rhubarb, as opposed to the more efficacious Chinese rhubarb. The expense of transportation across Asia caused rhubarb to be highly expensive in medieval Europe where it was several times the price of other valuable herbs and spices such as cinnamon, opium and saffron. The merchant explorer, Marco Polo, was therefore much interested in finding the plant being grown and harvested in the mountains of Tangut province.

The term rhubarb is a combination of the Greek rha and barbarum; rha is a term that refers both to the plant and to the River Volga. Imported rhubarb first came to the United States in the 1820s, entering the country in Maine and Massachusetts and moving westwards with the American settlers.