Scientific Name:Rheum palmatum
About this Herb:“Rheum palmatum” is commonly misinterpreted to be one in the same with the familiar “R. rhubarbarum” or garden rhubarb we eat, there are several facets falsifying this assumption. Size is the most evident facet differentiating the garden variety, which grows only a few feet in height to the Chinese rhubarb that 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 oftentimes yellow or white blooms. It’s hand shaped leaves are large and jagged growing in width from two to three feet. Native to regions of western China, northern Tibet, and the Mongolian Plateau, it is now extensively cultivated for its great medicinal advantages and uses. Since it is the roots and rhizome, which serve as this plant’s 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.
Common Names:Indian Rhubarb, Russian Rhubarb, Chinese Rhubarb, Da-huang, Turkey Rhubarb
Uses:Used as a laxative, an anti-inflammatory, an astringent, an antibacterial and to stop bleeding. A poultice preparation of fresh, moistened, or crushed dried herbs, applied externally for “fevers and edema” (swelling caused by fluid retention in the tissues of the body).
Applications:Extracts: You can soak the rootstock in cold water for 8-10 hours. For a laxative, take 1 tbsp. 2-3 times a day. For an appetizer, take 1 tsp. 2-3 times a day, shortly before meals. An alternative would be to add powdered or chopped rootstock to water and drink. 1tsp. in ½ cup of water once a day as a laxative, and as an astringent for diarrhea, take ¼ tsp. in a ½ cup of water once a day.
Poultice: Apply to afflicted area.