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Turkey rhubarb is the storehouse of compounds like calcium oxalate, anthraquinones, tannins, and various fatty acids. The tannins and anthraquinones give it the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it a potential cure for cancer and other health conditions, including chronic constipation.
Turkey rhubarb is a purgative and is most often used in herbal formulas for it’s strong laxative effects in constipation and colon cleansing formulas. It is most famously an ingredient in the classic Essiac cancer formula. The use of rhubarb was recorded in the earliest Chinese herbals. Turkey rhubarb works on the smooth muscles of the intestine, much like buckthorn and senna. Rhubarb is more appropriate than senna, however, when irregularity follows treatment with antibiotics; it is less dependent on the symbiotic bacteria of the colon.
The active principles in rhubarb root are anthraquinones with purgative properties and bitters and tannins with the opposite effect. Rhubarb’s action is dose dependant- small doses have mainly an aperitif and gentle tonic bitter effect. As the dose is increased the purgative anthraquinones predominate and rhubarb becomes the laxative that it is generally known for. Rhubarb is often added to liver/gallbladder remedies to enhance the effect.