Rhubarb

18/Description

About

Rhubarb is a plant. The root and underground stem (rhizome) are used to make medicine.

Rhubarb is used primarily for digestive complaints including constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, stomach pain, gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, and preparation for certain GI diagnostic procedures. Some people use rhubarb so they have to strain less during bowel movements; this reduces pain from hemorrhoids or tears in the skin lining the anal canal (anal fissures).

Rhubarb is sometimes applied to the skin to treat cold sores.

In food, rhubarb stems are eaten in pie and other recipes. Rhubarb is also used as a flavoring agent.

How it works

Rhubarb contains several chemicals which might help heal cold sores.

Effectiveness

Possibly Effective
Stomach bleeding

Taking rhubarb by mouth as a powder or extract seems to help treat stomach bleeding.

Cold sores

Applying rhubarb along with sage to herpes cold sores seems to improve healing. It might be as effective as acyclovir (Zovirax) cream.

Kidney failure

Most research suggests that taking rhubarb extract, with or without captopril, improves kidney function in people with kidney failure.

Concerns

Likely safe

Rhubarb is LIKELY SAFE when the root is consumed as food

Possibly safe

It is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts for up to 3 months.Rhubarb can cause some side effects such as stomach and intestinal pain, watery diarrhea, and uterine contractions. Long-term use can result in muscular weakness, bone loss, potassium loss, and irregular heart rhythm.There is a report of kidney failure in someone who took a product containing rhubarb. But it's not known for sure if rhubarb was the actual cause of kidney failure.

18/Warnings

Warnings

Children: Rhubarb isPOSSIBLY UNSAFEfor children. There is one report of a 4-year-old who ate rhubarb leaves and died. Rhubarb leaves contain a lot of oxalic acid, which can be deadly if taken in large enough doses. Because of their small size, children are at highest risk for oxalicpoisoningafter eating rhubarb leaves.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Rhubarb is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when used in amounts greater than those found in foods.

Diarrhea or constipation: Rhubarb can make diarrhea or constipation worse, depending on the preparation used.

Gastrointestinal (GI) conditions: Don't take rhubarb if you have a bowel obstruction; appendicitis; unexplained stomach pain; or inflammatory conditions of the intestines including Crohn's disease, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Kidney disease: There is a chemical in rhubarb that might harm the kidneys. In fact, a supplement that contained rhubarb has been linked to one report of kidney failure. If you already have kidney disease, don't risk making it worse by taking rhubarb.

Kidney stones: Rhubarb contains a chemical that the body can convert into kidney stones. If you have ever had kidney stones, don't take rhubarb.

Liver problems: Rhubarb can make liver function worse in people who already have liver problems. People who have liver problems should avoid rhubarb.

Interactions

Always consult with your doctor.
Moderate
Digoxin (Lanoxin)

Rhubarb is a type of laxative called a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives can decrease potassium levels in the body. Low potassium levels can increase the risk of side effects of digoxin (Lanoxin).

Medications taken by mouth (Oral drugs)

Some medications for inflammation can decrease potassium in the body. Rhubarb is a type of laxative that might also decrease potassium in the body. Taking rhubarb along with some medications for inflammation might decrease potassium in the body too much.Some medications for inflammation include dexamethasone (Decadron), hydrocortisone (Cortef), methylprednisolone (Medrol), prednisone (Deltasone), and others.Rhubarb is a laxative. Laxatives can decrease how much medicine your body absorbs. Decreasing how much medicine your body absorbs can decrease the effectiveness of your medication.

Warfarin (Coumadin)

Taking rhubarb might harm the kidneys in some people. Some medications can also harm the kidneys. Taking rhubarb with medications that can harm the kidneys might increase the chance of kidney damage.Some of these medications that can harm the kidneys include cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune); aminoglycosides including amikacin (Amikin), gentamicin (Garamycin, Gentak, others), and tobramycin (Nebcin, others); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, others), indomethacin (Indocin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn), piroxicam (Feldene); and numerous others.Rhubarb might harm the liver. Taking rhubarb along with medication that might also harm the liver can increase the risk of liver damage. Do not take rhubarb if you are taking a medication that can harm the liver.Some medications that can harm the liver include acarbose (Precose, Prandase), amiodarone (Cordarone), atorvastatin (Lipitor), azathioprine (Imuran), carbamazepine (Tegretol), cerivastatin (Baycol), diclofenac (Voltaren), felbamate (Felbatol), fenofibrate (Tricor), fluvastatin (Lescol), gemfibrozil (Lopid), isoniazid, itraconazole, (Sporanox), ketoconazole (Nizoral), leflunomide (Arava), lovastatin (Mevacor), methotrexate (Rheumatrex), nevirapine (Viramune), niacin, nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin), pioglitazone (Actos), pravastatin (Pravachol), pyrazinamide, rifampin (Rifadin), ritonavir (Norvir), rosiglitazone (Avandia), simvastatin (Zocor), tacrine (Cognex), tamoxifen, terbinafine (Lamisil), valproic acid, and zileuton (Zyflo).Rhubarb is a type of laxative called a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives speed up the bowels. Taking rhubarb along with other stimulant laxatives could speed up the bowels too much and cause dehydration and low minerals in the body.Some stimulant laxatives include bisacodyl (Correctol, Dulcolax), cascara, castor oil (Purge), senna (Senokot), and others.Rhubarb can work as a laxative. In some people, rhubarb can cause diarrhea. Diarrhea can increase the effects of warfarin and increase the risk of bleeding. If you take warfarin, do not take excessive amounts of rhubarb.

Water pills (Diuretic drugs)

Rhubarb is a laxative. Some laxatives can decrease potassium in the body. "Water pills" can also decrease potassium in the body. Taking rhubarb along with "water pills" might decrease potassium in the body too much.Some "water pills" that can decrease potassium include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HydroDiuril, Microzide), and others.

The information provided on this page is for reference purposes and is not meant to be used as a medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with a medical professional.