Herbal Purgative Follow-up

Last week there was talk of herbal laxatives, reaching for patients with diagnosed illnesses and potential for greatness.  This week I can report that I have tried one of these Chinese herbal purgatives for myself.

This herb is the root of a rhubarb plant.  You may know rhubarb as a kind of obscure, tart veggie that’s used in pies, pastries, jams, etc.  The root hardly is known outside of herbal medicine circles because of its spicy, bitter, and cold purgative properties. In fact, in China the root is sometimes called ‘the river general’ for its kick-down-the-door strength.

One website claims that rhubarb root is an “anticholesterolemic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitumor, aperient, astringent, cholagogue, demulcent, diuretic, laxative, purgative, stomachic and tonic.”  You may have to pull out the dictionary to get all of that.  For me, I wanted to have a taste myself.

What I did was make a powder from of the raw, dried herb.  Cooking it reduces its potency, so I stirred a gram of the powder into hot water.  The average dose is 3-12g for an overheated, constipated individual.  After taking that one gram dose, I would say that anything above 6 grams would be a bold move.

It wasn’t that one gram carried any kind of toxicity or led to severe pain or cramping.  It was more that I could see the potential of that happening.  I took the herb at 10pm because I read that it takes 6-8 hours to be absorbed and then exert its function.  When I woke, I felt a sense of that “exertion” and, you know, went to the bathroom.  Afterwards, I did feel a mild soreness in my lower abdomen.  I treated this with a blend of licorice and peony root that I had on hand.  That fixed the problem but I will say that I did feel a kind of weakness throughout the rest of the day, mostly in the form of a dull headache and scattered thought process.  Ginger tea also felt good for the lingering sense of cold the rhubarb root left behind.

So, overall, I do feel like I know this herb better and can blend it with others to balance its effects.  I mean, if I was going to take it for myself again, I’d cook it with the licorice, peony root, and ginger to prepare my body for the big show.  At the same time, I also know that this herb is not really for me.  In all the reading and research I’ve done, I see that its really made for larger people with more systemic inflammation.

Walking away from this week’s experiment and talking about it with friends, the biggest feeling is that, okay, rhubarb is not for everyone but its a step closer to filling out the bigger idea.  The bigger idea being to create complementary medicine procedures that can be targeted to specific illnesses.  After all, no medicine is an all-in-one that works for everyone.  The more I experiment and study, the closer I’ll get to finding a family of herbs to fit a host of different people and problems.

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