Rhubarb is commonly available in the produce section of grocery stores. It is a perennial plant with large triangular shaped leaves.
Rhubarb has medicinal uses, but most commonly the plant’s stalks are cooked and used in pies, tarts and other foods for their tart flavor. It has been used as a supplement in traditional Chinese medicine and was also used in medieval Arabic and European prescriptions.
Rhubarb can be used as a strong laxative, with the roots being used as a laxative for at least 5,000 years. Rhubarb has an astringent effect on the mucous membranes of the mouth and the nasal cavity. These substances are cathartic and laxative, which explains the sporadic use of rhubarb as a slimming agent.
In addition, rhubarb root is an essential ingredient in many old homemade ciders, wines and root beers. A strong decoction of Rhubarb root has a purgative action for use in the treatment of constipation, but also has an astringent effect following this. It therefore has a cleansing action upon the gut, removing debris and then astringing with antiseptic properties as well.
Studies have shown that rhubarb may improve bowel movement, regulating the frequency and passage of hard, dry stools. Most Rhubarb supplements use extracts from the rhizome and root of Rheum palmatum plants which are cultivated and harvested in late autumn or early spring according to traditional Chinese methods.
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