Rhubarb is also called the Great Round Leaved Dock. It is the Garden Rhubarb, which every body knows. And what is said of the virtues of the Foreign Rhubarb, may be said of this in degree. Culpeper has written many absurd things about Rhubarb. I will not disfigure this book with them; but extract the best. The juice of the leaves or roots or the decoction of them in vinegar, heals scabs and running sores. A decoction of the seed eases pains in the stomach, and strengthens it, by increasing the appetite. The root strongly decocted is a good wash for scrofulous sores, etcetera. And taken inwardly, it removes obstructions of the liver, and cools the blood.
In short Garden Rhubarb differs not from the Foreign, except the latter is more powerful.Garden Rhubarb, used as food, has a slight aperient action upon the bowels. In some cases, this may be beneficial; but those who have tender bowels had better abstain from it. Some mix with it a little ground Ginger in puddings, pies, etcetera., which counteracts that tendency. It is a very wholesome and cooling diet. Its agreeable acid depends on the presence of the oxalic (slightly) and malic acids, which it abundantly contains. Persons subject to urinary irritation should take it very sparingly, or not at all.
This is sold by Druggists in the root, or the root powdered.It is one of the most useful drugs. The species of Rheumwhich produce it are thought to be Rheum Palmatum, Undulatum, Raponiticum, and Australe. It principally grows inChinese Tartary, and is gathered in summer from plants sixyears old.
A portion of this Rhubarb goes to China, the remainder passes through Russia, and is known in this country as Russian or Turkey Rhubarb. This is the best. It is in roundish pieces, of a yellow reddish colour on the outside, soft and easily reducible, having many streaks of a beautiful bright red colour. It has generally a hole in the middle, as it is the custom to string them when newly gotten, in order to dry the pieces. It is also cultivated in Oxfordshire; and that is the kind sold by men dressed up as Turks as the genuine Rhubarb. Some of this is very good; yet so powerful and unreasonable is prejudice, that very little of it can be sold.
Few medicines are more valuable or safer. It is a mild and effectual aperient, the action depending upon the amount of the dose. It rarely gripes; it has a beneficial tonic action upon the stomach. It is astringent, and therefore has a little tendency to constipate after its purgative effect is over. Dr. Graham says, " In the dose of one, two, or three grains, twice or thrice a day, it acts as a valuable stomachic, stimulating the stomach, increasing the appetite, and promoting a healthy flow of bile, and is of much service in indigestion, low spirits, jaundice, and a weakened relaxed state of the bowels. It acts chiefly on the stomach and first intestines, and in these complaints may be advantageously combined with soap, dried sub- carbonate of soda, ipecacuanha, or extract of gentian. A pill of two grains of rhubarb, one of ipecacuanha powder, and one of soap, repeated three or four times a-day, is sometimes of superior benefit in indigestion, and bilious complaints, especially of elderly persons.
Rhubarb may be taken alone as an aperient, in doses from ten to thirty grains, mingled with water, or made into pills. Some persons carry the root with them, and chew it occasionally, and this is a good way of taking it. Where the bowels are sluggish, it makes an excellent dinner pill, combined with ginger and a little Castile soap. Rhubarb is very useful in a lax state of the bowels, as it expels any acrid matter that may be offending the bowels, before it acts as an astringent. It strengthens the intestinal canal, and therefore it is a safe and valuable purgative for children, "in whom," as Dr. Graham says, " that canal generally possesses a great degree of relaxation, and morbid irritability." " When it is intended to act on the bowels, it should be given in conjunction with about fifteengrains of super-sulphate of potash, which covers its taste, and causes it to act more readily and with greater certainty."
Gregory's Powder is valuable, as a stomachic, and mild aperient, very advantageous to both adults and children. Composed thus :—Rhubarb, 2 parts, Calcined Magnesia, 4 parts, Ginger, 1 part. It may be taken in simple water, or un water and a few drops of sal-volatile, which will increase its stimulant and tonic properties. It should not be taken regularly, as the quantity of magnesia might irritate the coats of the stomach, and bring on diarrhoea.The Compound Rhubarb Pill, is a safe and valuable aperient. Rhubarb, 4 drachms ; Aloes in powder 3 drachms ; Myrrh in powder, 2 drachms ; Hard soap, scraped, A a drachm; Oil of carraway, A a drachm. Make up with treacle or mucilage.
The Tincture of Rhubarb is one of the best stomachics known. Made thus :-2A ounces sliced rhubarb; saffron, 3 drachms ; liquorice, bruised, 6 drachms ; proof spirit, two pints; macerate for a week, and strain.Extract of Rhubarb, dose, 10 to 20 grains. The Infusion is made by macerating 3 drachms of the sliced roots in 1 pint of boiling water for 2 hours. Dose, a wineglassfull. It will not keep.Syrup of Rhubarb is made with Sugar, etcetera. It is excellent for young children. Dose 1 to 2 drachms —All may be obtained at the Druggists.The powder of Rhubarb sprinkled on foul indolent ulcers excites them to a healthy action.
Lapathum sativum, vel patientia.—It isalso called Garden Patience. It bears the name of Rhubarb on account of its aperient properties. It has large tall stalks, set with broad and long fair green leaves, not dented. The tops of the stalks are divided into many small branches, bear reddish or purplish flowers, and seed, like dock seed. The root is long, great and yellow, like the wild docks, and if it be a little dried, showeth less store of discoloured veins than the Bastard Rhubarb when it is dry. Its virtues also are not so strong.
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