A large perennial herbaceous plant up to 2 m high with a thick multi-headed short rhizome and succulent fleshy roots. Basal leaves are large, rounded ovate, deeply heart-shaped at the base, with longish petioles. Stem leaves are alternate, ovate, with a dry membranous bell at the base. In the second – third year of life, large paniculate inflorescences are found. The flowers are small, regular, white, green or pink. Blooms in July. The fruit is a trihedral nutlet, red-brown in color, with wings.
Distributed in the south of Siberia, Altai, in the Sayans, Transbaikalia. Grows on rocks and rocky slopes in the alpine zone.
Medicinal raw materials are rhizomes and roots. They are dug up in autumn, cleaned of earth and small roots, washed, lightly dried and dried at temperatures up to 60 ° C, cut into pieces. The raw material is suitable for 5 years.
Rhizomes and roots contain 2 main groups of biologically active substances: tannoglycosides (tannins of the pyrocatechin group and gallic acid derivatives), which cause astringent properties, and antiglycosides, which increase intestinal motility. Oxymetalianthracanones are in a bound and free state, the most important of them are redmaemodin, rhein, chryzaphanol and their corresponding alcohols – anthranols. The leaves contain ascorbic acid, erogterin, iron salts, oxalic and malic acids, substances of P-vitamin action.
In scientific medicine, rhubarb root, dry extract, tablets, etc., are used to regulate the activity of the gastrointestinal tract. Preparations prepared with water are designed for the laxative effect of anthraglycosides, alcohol preparations for improving digestion and astringent properties of tannins. Small doses of powder improve appetite, regulate the activity of the stomach, are especially indicated for catarrhs of the stomach, intestines, dyspepsia; medium doses act as a choleretic; large – as a gentle laxative for intestinal atony, spastic constipation, constipation in babies and pregnant women, to soften the stool with hemorrhoids and rectal fissures.
In folk medicine, rhubarb is used as a general tonic for all kinds of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, diseases of the gallbladder and biliary tract, anemia and tuberculosis. Dry powder from the root is recommended for the treatment of burns.
With prolonged use, the laxative effect of rhubarb is reduced, because the body gets used to it. Therefore, with habitual constipation, rhubarb should be alternated with other products.