Rhubarb Root and Gut Health Benefits

Last updated on

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. But there are no additional costs to you.

Did you know rhubarb root has many gut health benefits? It’s true.

Rhubarb root has long been used as a natural remedy for digestive problems. 

In this article, we will explore the benefits of rhubarb root and how it can benefit your gut health and digestive system.

Where is Rhubarb Root From?

Rhubarb root is native to the mountains of western China. 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 plant’s 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 or 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.

It is allowed to grow and age until it’s four or more years of age. Once aged, the root or the rhizome is dug up in the autumn months, usually 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 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 emptying 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 residual infectious bacteria causing 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, and it is these contractions that move fecal matter through the colon.

When the colon is not spontaneously contracting, fecal matter sits and builds in the colon, resulting in constipation. Learn more about the large intestine function.

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.

Internal Cleansing and Rhubarb Root

The combination of rhubarb root’s purgative and astringent 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, removing any residual stool or infectious bacteria. 

Rhubarb Root Benefits Summary

Rhubarb root is an effective treatment of diarrhea by purging the colon of stool and infectious bacteria
The purgative actions of rhubarb root make it effective in treating constipation

The combination of rhubarb root’s purgative and astringing action makes it an effective colon cleanser.

If you’re interested in improving your gut health, check out these other articles:

Written and Medically Reviewed By

  • Chelsea Cleary, RDN

    Chelsea is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) specializing in holistic treatment for chronic digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), SIBO, and Crohn’s disease. She educates patients on how they can heal themselves from their conditions by modifying lifestyle and dietary habits.

  • Julie Guider, M.D.

    Dr. Julie Guider earned her medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine. She completed residency in internal medicine at the University of Virginia. She completed her general gastroenterology and advanced endoscopy fellowships at University of Texas-Houston. She is a member of several national GI societies including the AGA, ACG, and ASGE as well as state and local medical societies.