Last update June 10, 2018


Likely Compatibility

Fairly safe. Mild or unlikely adverse effects. Compatible under certain circumstances. Follow-up recommended. Read Commentary.

The dried root of the shrub is used in phytotherapy, and the leaves and stems are used as food.
It contains hydroxyanthracene glycosides, especially anthraquinones (aloe-emodin and rhein) and dianthrones (sennosides) with a laxative effect. It also contains small amounts of tannins, with an astringent effect. It is very rich in oxalic acid (Prenen 1984).
Indicated in constipation and, topically, in canker sores.

According to very old data (Tyson 1937, cited in LactMed 2017) anthraquinones and other compounds of rhubarb are not excreted in breastmilk and infants whose mothers consumed it did not suffer laxative effects.

The German Ministry of Health’s E Commission (Blumenthal 1998 p.185), the European Medicines Agency (EMA 2007) and the World Health Organization (WHO 1999 p.231) do not recommend using it for more than a week, without exceeding the dose indicated in the product, not indicating it in children or breastfeeding mothers.

Its chronic consumption can be harmful to the intestine. Constipation should be combatted with dietary measures and lifestyle.

Poisoning due to oxalic acid or anthraquinones has been reported by accidental overdose or when rhubarb has been eaten to excess (Barceloux 2009, Varslot 1980, Tallqvist 1960, Robb 1919).

Its moderate culinary consumption and the occasional use as a laxative does not pose any problem (there is no published material about it) and it has a very low risk during breastfeeding.

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

Arabarba is Rhubarb in Basque.

Is written in other languages:

Arabarba is also known as


Main tradenames from several countries containing Arabarba in its composition:

  • Black-Draught™. Contains other elements than Arabarba in its composition
  • Digestive™. Contains other elements than Arabarba in its composition
  • Pyralvex™. Contains other elements than Arabarba in its composition
  • Wunderbalsam™. Contains other elements than Arabarba in its composition


Variable Value Unit
Protein Binding 100 %
Tmax 1 hours


  1. Barceloux DG. Rhubarb and oxalosis (Rheum species). Dis Mon. 2009 Abstract
  2. EMEA Community herbal monograph on Rheum palmatum L. and Rheum officinale Baillon, radix 2007 Full text (in our servers)
  3. Zhu W, Zhang L, Wang XM, Wang BX, Li XY. [The pharmacokinetics of rhein in 12 healthy volunteers after oral administration of rhubarb extract]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2005 Abstract
  4. WHO. World Health Organization. Geneva. WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants. Volume I. WHO monographs 1999 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  5. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, Gruenwald J, Hall T, Riggins CW, Rister RS, editors. The American Botanical Council. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. 1st ed. Integrative Medicine Com; Boston, MA, USA: 1998
  6. Prenen JA, Boer P, Dorhout Mees EJ. Absorption kinetics of oxalate from oxalate-rich food in man. Am J Clin Nutr. 1984 Abstract
  7. Varslot OJ. [Rhubarb poisoning. Causal connection - oxalic acid or anthraquinones?]. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 1980 Abstract
  8. TALLQVIST H, VAANANEN I. Death of a child from oxalic acid poisoning due to eating rhubarb leaves. Ann Paediatr Fenn. 1960 Abstract
  9. Tyson RM, Shrader EA, Perlman HH. Drugs transmitted through breast milk. Part I: laxatives. J Pediatr. 1937;11:824-32 (in LactMed-TOXNET) 1937 Full text (in our servers)
  10. Robb HF. Death from rhubarb leaves due to oxalic acid poisoning. AMA. 1919;73(8):627-628 1919 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)

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