Rhubarb Roots first use can be traced as far back as 2700 B.C., at that time the Hopi Indians of China and Tibet used the root to treat colds. In addition to treating colds Rhubarb Root was also used by the Chinese to treat constipation and diarrhea.
In the 1600’s Marco Polo discovered Rhubarb Root during his travels in China, and he is responsible for the plants arrival in Europe. It became so popular in Europe that it was one of the more expensive herbs on the trading market. Its value as a medicine, on the trading market in Europe, was greater than opium. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that Rhubarb was also discovered for its food properties as well as its medicinal properties.
Rhubarb didn’t arrive in America until the late 1700’s early 1800’s. There are records of a Maine farmer acquiring the seed or the root stock from Europe. This farmer shared his knowledge of rhubarb with fellow farmers in Massachusetts where it grew in popularity and eventually showed up in produce markets.
Rhubarb Root it native to the mountains of western China. It is allowed to grow and age until its four or more years of age. Once aged the root or the rhizome is dug up in the autumn months, usually the month of October.After being harvested the root is washed thoroughly and its external fibers are removed.
Most roots are cut into pieces, depending upon their size, and they are strung out on cords for drying in the sun. If the sun cannot completely dry out a root it is often times finished by using stove heat. Once dried out the root is then pulverized into powder form and stored in a tightly closed container.
Diarrhea and Rhubarb Root
Rhubarb Root contains two major constituents which makes it extremely useful for relieving cases of diarrhea. The purgative constituents are responsible for increasing the contractions of the colon and cleansing. These constituents purge the bowel, removing the cause of the diarrhea.
The tannin constituents come through the colon after the cleansing process has been completed. These constituents act as an astringent cleansing the colon killing any of the left over infectious bacteria causing the diarrhea. “It is especially useful in cases of diarrhea, caused by an irritating body in the intestines: the cause of the irritation is removed and the after-astringent action checks the diarrhea”.
Constipation and Rhubarb Root
The purgative actions of Rhubarb Root make it effective in relieving bouts of constipation. The root stimulates the colon to contract, it is these contractions that move fecal matter through the colon.
When constipated the colon is not spontaneously contracting, therefore fecal matter sits and builds in the colon causing the constipation. It’s the purgative actions that will not only move the fecal matter but it will also tone the colon so it contracts on its own more regularly.
The colon does not become dependent on the Rhubarb Root to contract so once cleansed constipation should not return. “In large doses, Rhubarb powder acts as a simple and safe purgative, being regarded as one of the most valuable remedies we possess, effecting a brisk, healthy purge, without clogging the bowels and producing constipation, too often consequent upon the use of the more active purgatives”.
Internal Cleansing and Rhubarb Root
The combination of Rhubarb Roots purgative and astringing properties make it an extremely effective colon cleanser. The purgative actions work to increase the motility of the colon pushing fecal matter through. This helps to clean out any impacted fecal matter that may have been building up.
However, it’s difficult for the contractions of the colon to completely clean the colon. The intestines in the digestive tract are very long and winding, therefore pockets of debris may be left behind. This is where the astringent action of Rhubarb Root is important.
The astringent, tannin acid, comes after the purgative actions and does a thorough wash of the colon. Removing any left over pockets of fecal matter or infectious bacteria.
“Rhubarb Root has a purgative action for us in the treatment of constipation, but also has an astringent effect following this.It therefore has a truly cleansing action upon the gut, removing debris and then astringing with antiseptic properties as well”.