Medicinal plants

Rhubarb - Recipes, Health and Use

The vegetable plant rhubarb we use like fruit. In contrast to fruit, we do not use fruit for this, but the petioles - and in medicine the roots.


The leaf sticks are good for squeezing juice out of them, because 100 grams contain almost 95 grams of water. There are 0.6 grams of protein, 1.3 grams of carbohydrates, 0.1 grams of fat and 3.2 grams of fiber. The petioles get their importance as a medicinal plant through the vitamins and minerals. They are abundant in rhubarb: 270 grams of potassium, 50 milligrams of calcium, 25 milligrams of phosphorus, 13 milligrams of magnesium and 0.5 milligrams of iron are contained in 100 grams. Add a full 10 milligrams of vitamin C, 0.07 milligrams of carotene, 0.025 milligrams of vitamin B1, 0.030 milligrams of vitamin B2, 0.25 milligrams of niacin. And all of this with an extremely low amount of calories: 13 to 20 kcal per 100 grams. Rhubarb is one of the superstars - if you want to reduce weight and eat healthy at the same time.

In addition to vitamins and minerals, rhubarb also offers pectins, tannins, glycosides, essential oils, malic and citric acids. The root contains anthranoids, glycosides, rheumatodin, aloeemodin and chrysophanol. Malic acid and citric acid mainly provide the taste.
Practice limits the effect of the "superfood" a little: Pure rhubarb stems taste sour, and we usually add sugar for juices, compotes or jams. You can use stevia or birch sugar instead of sugar and save calories.

The amount of calcium is relativized by the high dose of oxalic acid - 460 milligrams per 100 grams of fresh food. The oxalic acid in turn "eats" calcium. So instead of adding calcium when rhubarb is eaten, we lose calcium. Because of the oxalic acid, rhubarb is also not suitable for people with kidney or biliary problems.


Rhubarb has a laxative effect and is therefore suitable to end constipation or to clean the stomach. Medical preparations such as rhubarb root powder usually contain rheum palmatum and not our garden vegetable rhubarb.

The high level of potassium ensures the draining effect. This also means that nutrients get into the cells of the body. The sodium promotes digestion and stimulates the intestine. Rhubarb also cleans bile and liver. It also works against constipation such as diarrhea, loss of appetite (tannins) and inflamed mucous membranes in the mouth and stomach. The high dose of vitamin C helps to prevent colds and strengthens the body's defenses.

Rhubarb root

The leaf stems are less of a medicinal product than the dried, beet-like roots. If you grow it in the garden to eat it, it is difficult to use the root for medicinal purposes: if you dig up the root, you will destroy the plant. In the trade, rhubarb root usually comes from China or India.

The root is approved for internal use as a medicine to treat constipation. Studies have also proven to be effective: Alcoholic extracts of rhubarb root applied externally against inflammation of the gums and oral mucosa.

Root tea

For a root tea, peel the root like ginger and cut it into slices. Or you can use rhubarb root powder from the pharmacy and pour a teaspoon of it with a quarter liter of hot water, let the mixture steep for ten minutes and then strain out the root. One cup a day helps against constipation, diarrhea, hemorrhoids and bowel problems. If you gargle the tea, it works against inflammation in the mouth and gums.

In the case of indigestion, you can enrich the tea with other medicinal plants, for example to add caraway seeds for flatulence and / or fennel for indigestion.

You shouldn't overdo it with the tea made from rhubarb roots, you shouldn't take it for more than ten days. Otherwise, the intestine becomes sluggish if used continuously. Moreover, there is likely to be a loss of potassium and water and electrolysis problems, as well as excessive use of other laxatives.

Potassium deficiency caused by chronic root consumption can increase the effects of cardiac glycosides, i.e. products derived from digitalis. Are you also taking licorice root or minor cortex steroids? Then you even intensify the breakdown of potassium.

You must not take rhubarb root if you suffer from the following symptoms: Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammation of the appendage and intestinal obstruction, and dehydration. A discolored urine after consuming rhubarb root can occur and has nothing to do with illness.

The negative effects of rhubarb root on pregnant women have not been scientifically proven, but are conceivable because of the anthranoids. Therefore, expectant mothers should avoid rhubarb roots.
The root should also be breastfeeding because the anthranoids may be transmitted through breast milk.

Children under the age of 12 suffered from gastrointestinal cramps after consuming rhubarb roots. This medication is therefore not recommended for them either.

Oxalic acid

Oxalic acid occurs most in the rhubarb leaves, in smaller doses in the leaf stems. The leaves are therefore poisonous and we must not eat them. The consumption of oxalic acid in the leaves leads to circulatory disorders as well as vomiting.

The acidity increases with the age of the stems and leaves. The stems contain the least of the acid in April, most in July. The best time to harvest rhubarb is therefore May.
Unfortunately, the acid binds calcium, so that rhubarb can attack the teeth and bones despite a lot of its own calcium. That's why you should brush your teeth an hour after eating.

Tip: Eat rhubarb along with milk or dairy products. The calcium contained therein neutralizes the oxalic acid: curd cheese with rhubarb compote, milkshake with rhubarb stalks or a rhubarb yoghurt cake also taste good.

Who shouldn't eat rhubarb?

You should not eat rhubarb if you have symptoms that require calcium to treat: kidney stones, rheumatism, gout, or arthritis. Pregnant women, infants and young children should also avoid rhubarb.

An alien root?

Rheum rhabarbarum, like the barbarian, is derived from the Latin barbarus, which means “foreign” and refers to the origin from Asia. However, the German term rhubarb does not come directly from Latin, but is the Germanized version of the Italian rabarbaro. Italians who traded with the Arabs were probably the first to plant the knotweed in Europe.

The rheum comes from the Iranian rewend as the name for rhubarb, which became the Latin rheum. The Ra in front of the barbarus comes from the name of the Volga at that time. Rhubarb was probably traded over this river in the early Middle Ages.

Appearance and maturity

Medical rhubarb and garden rhubarb are very similar. Both have leafed flower stems that grow more than 1.50 m high, the medicinal rhubarb bears pink flowers that are arranged in panicles. The leaves are large, lobed in the shape of hands, dark green, the petioles are almost round and flattened on the back. The Chinese rhubarb, however, has kidney-shaped leaves and greenish flowers.

Harvest rhubarb

Chinese and medicinal rhubarb bloom like the rhubarb in May and June. You can recognize fresh leaf sticks by the fact that they are firm and shine a little. The cut ends look juicy. If you bought the rhubarb or cut it in the garden, wrap it in a damp cloth and put it in the fridge. He stays there for several days. Raw rhubarb can also be frozen well - cooked as well.

Peel and cook rhubarb

We should only eat a little rhubarb raw, mostly we use it prepared. For this we wash the stems and cut off the leaf base like the end of the stem. Then we cut the stems into pieces. If the sticks are thick, we peel them because the oxalic acid collects in the shell. We also remove green parts because they also contain plenty of acid. We cook the pieces and sweeten them afterwards. We pour the water away because there is now a large part of the acid in it. However, only a little of this is still contained in cooked rhubarb.

Rhubarb must not come into contact with aluminum or zinc, because the oxalic acid thus forms toxic compounds.

Use in the kitchen

Rhubarb is mainly found in desserts, desserts, crumble cakes, muffins or jams. In early June, when the early strawberries are ripe, the strawberry-rhubarb combination is as healthy as it is delicious. The sweet taste of the strawberries slows down the sour rhubarb. Rhubarb goes well with buttermilk, marzipan, meringue and honey. Rhubarb works well with strawberries, gooseberries, apple juice and elderflower syrup to make a smoothie, it harmonizes with pineapple, plums, cherries, mirabelle plums, pomegranate, elderberries, elderflowers, rose petals, orange blossoms, edible lily flowers, coconut pulp, coconut milk and coconut juice, mulberries , Passion fruit, mango and papaya. Suitable herbs are lavender, mint, woodruff, lemon balm - spices offer cloves, verbena, vanilla and cinnamon (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


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Video: How to make Rhubarb Crumble - Super Easy Dessert Recipe! (January 2022).