What is Rhubarb?
Rhubarb (Rheum rhaponticum) is a relative of buckwheat and has an earthy, sour flavour. Rhubarb thrives in cold climates and originated in Western China, Tibet, Mongolia, Siberia and neighbouring areas. The traditional role was medicinal - the dried root was a popular remedy for a wide range of illnesses. Its primary function was to induce vomiting, although rhubarb is also a mild astringent. This medicinal role caused the price of the dried root to rise. In 1542, rhubarb sold for ten times the price of cinnamon in France and in 1657 rhubarb sold for over twice the price of opium in England. Beginning in the eighteenth century, rhubarb began to be consumed in foods, primarily drinks and meat stews.
Potential Health Benefits of Rhubarb
Rhubarb has been used as a traditional Chinese medicine since ancient times and today it is still applied in various herbal preparations for health benefits. Current research reports you may enjoy several health benefits from consuming rhubarb. Most noticeably, rhubarb has been thought to be a cancer inhibitor, is high in calcium and may contribute to lowering cholesterol. Other benefits include anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties.
One study has shown that rhubarb helped patients with gastric cancer to recover after operations. Patients in the study group were fed with rhubarb before the operation, and day 1 and day 2 after the operation. Rhubarb positively modulated the acute inflammatory response and promoted the recovery of postoperative gastrointestinal motility.
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