Recent Studies on Rhubarb and 24 Hours in the Bathroom

Rhubarb root known as Rhizoma Rhei or Da Huang has long been used in Chinese Medicine for the following:

1. Clearing heat

2. Draining damp heat especially of the intestines. 

3. Invigorating stagnant blood

4. Purging excess accumulation in the bowels. 

Science is once again chasing the old knowledge of Chinese Medicine in the following study:

The study looked at whether Rhein, a constituent of Rhubarb root had anti-oxidative effects on the brain effected by Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  The study concludes that " The data demonstrated that Rhubarb and Rhein had the potential to be used as a neuroprotective drug for TBI, and that Rhein induced an antioxidative effect similar to its parent medicine, Rhubarb." 

This effect on the brain is probably due to the combined effects of the blood moving and heat clearing effects on the body.  Inflammation in the body is one manifestation of heat in the body and often accompanies TBI.  Additionally any time there is trauma to the body there is usually a degree of "blood stagnation."  Rhubarb's ability to invigorate the blood helps to alleviate the residual effects of blood stasis which often or possibly always is present in TBI to some degree or another. 

Great job science.  Once again science validates what has been present in Chinese Medicine for eons.  Maybe they will create another drug to sell at mafia like extortion rates based on Rhubarb.  Of course the thinking person will simply work with a good herbalist instead of waiting for pharma to play them again.  Heck, it is easy to grow rhubarb if one has the space and inclination. 

Rhubarb is a powerful herb in my experience.  When I first started studying herbs I tasted and took notes on the subjective effects of over 200 herbs.  Rhubarb is interesting because the longer it is cooked in a tea/decoction the weaker the purgative effect will be.  Writing that another way, the shorter the cook time the more powerful the purgative effects will be.  So I decided to see what a few minute cook would do.  I drank a dose and waited 20 or 30 minutes.  I didn't notice any particular effect.  I took another dose and waited another 20 or 30 minutes.  I may have taken a third does, I cannot exactly recall.  Then things got real serious, really quickly.  I ran to the bathroom and spent the next day or so within 10 feet of the bathroom purging my bowels.  It was a "cleansing" experience. 

Years later I met a young woman who dated a friend of mine.  She insisted on going to the health food store to get an item.  When I queried her about the product she needed so badly I saw that it was some sort of "colon cleanser" and rhubarb was one of the main ingredients.  She of course was suffering from bulimia.  And that my friends, is the dark side of the force. 

Andy Maher