Rheum palmatum


Botanical Name: Rheum palmatum
Common name: Rhubarb root (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 228), Chinese rhubarb (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 577).
Family: Polygonaceae (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 228)
Parts used: Rhizome (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 228)


  • Anthraquinones
  • Tannins
  • Bitter aromatic principal

(Hoffmann, 1990, p. 228)



  • Mild purgative (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 228)
  • Astringent (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 228)
  • Laxative (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 577)
  • Bitter (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 577)



Constipation: Cleansing action, removing debris and astringing with antiseptic properties (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 228).


Preparation & Dosage

  • Decoction: 0.5-1 tsp/1 cup water bid (morning and evening)
  • Tincture: 1-2mL tds

(Hoffmann, 1990, p. 228)



May enhance loss of potassium (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 577).



Presence of anthraquinones constituents are known to stimulate peristalsis of bowel and due to the potential for anthraquinone to have a similar effect on the uterus, the herb is contraindicated in pregnancy (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 394).



May have an effect on antiarhythmic drugs and cardiac glycosides due to the herb’s potential to enhance loss of potassium (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 577). As it is a laxative, it increases intestine transit time and therefore may interfere with the absorption of orally administered drugs (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 577).



Should be combined with carminative herbs to relieve any consequent gripping (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 228).



Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

Hoffmann, D. (1990). Holistic Herbal. London: Thorsons

Image I: Campana, A. (2008). Geneva Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved from: http://www.gfmer.ch/TMCAM/Atlas_medicinal_plants/Rheum_palmatum.htm

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