Last update June 10, 2018
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.
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