7 Side Effects of Rhubarbs

Rhubarb is a popular food ingredient used in pies, jams, jellies, teas, and sauces. While it is generally safe to consume, there are certain risks associated with its use. Eating too much rhubarb can lead to gastrointestinal issues due to the high levels of oxalic acid in it. People with kidney disease should avoid it as it can contribute to an accumulation of oxalates in the body.

Additionally, pregnant women should be cautious when consuming rhubarb as it can act as a laxative and induce labor prematurely. To avoid any adverse reactions from consuming rhubarb, it is important to limit its intake and speak to a healthcare professional if in doubt.

What Is Rhubarb

Rhubarb is an ancient vegetable that has been used for thousands of years. Originating in Asia, it was introduced to Europe during the Middle Ages and eventually made its way to North America. Botanically classified as Rheum rhabarbarum and belonging to the Polygonaceae family, its edible stalks are reddish-green and have a distinct tart flavor when cooked.

Today, rhubarb is widely consumed in North America and is still used to make sweet dishes and desserts. Its long and varied history makes it an interesting and unique culinary ingredient.

rhubarb side effects

Nutritional Benefits

Rhubarb is a nutritious vegetable that can benefit digestive health due to its high fiber content. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, and potassium, which can boost the immune system, strengthen bones and teeth, and provide antioxidant properties.

Rhubarb’s fiber content can help reduce cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar levels, and provide important nutrients like iron, phosphorus, and manganese. Additionally, it is a rich source of vitamins A, B-complex, and K, and antioxidants such as anthocyanins and quercetin. Regularly consuming rhubarb can provide numerous health benefits as part of a healthy diet.

Potential Dangers

Rhubarb is a nutritious food with many health benefits, but it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with eating it. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid which can be toxic when consumed in large doses. Symptoms of poisoning can range from vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea to more serious issues such as convulsions, confusion, and kidney stones.

Additionally, excess oxalic acid has been linked with other health problems such as low blood pressure, skin irritation, and digestive disturbances. Therefore, it is important to exercise caution when consuming rhubarb and to speak to a doctor before consuming it if you have any existing medical conditions.

Symptoms Of Overconsumption

While rhubarb is a healthy vegetable, overconsumption can lead to several side effects. Symptoms like stomach cramps, diarrhea, dizziness, and fatigue may occur due to the plant’s high oxalic acid content. The diuretic effect of rhubarb can also cause dehydration. In severe cases, overindulging in rhubarb can lead to liver toxicity or severe abdominal pain.

It is crucial to be aware of individual limits and avoid excessive consumption of any food item to prevent such consequences. It is recommended to consume no more than two servings of rhubarb per day and seek medical advice if necessary.

(1) Interactions With Medications

Rhubarb has the potential to interact with both prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, making it crucial to be aware of these interactions. The most common drug interactions associated with rhubarb involve antibiotics like penicillin, erythromycin, and amoxicillin.

Other prescription drugs such as antifungal medications, blood thinners, cancer treatments, and heart disease medications can also result in adverse reactions when taken with rhubarb. Over-the-counter medicines or supplements that may interact negatively with rhubarb include NSAIDs, magnesium sulfate laxatives, and vitamins or minerals.

To avoid possible dangerous side effects, it is best to consult a healthcare provider before taking any medication while consuming rhubarb. It is advisable to check for potential drug interactions before using prescription medications or over-the-counter products along with rhubarb.

(2) Allergic Reactions

Individuals who are allergic to rhubarb may experience a range of allergy symptoms, including skin rash, itching, nasal congestion, and difficulty breathing, when they consume, touch, or inhale the plant. In severe cases, anaphylaxis can occur, which is a life-threatening condition requiring immediate medical attention.

To avoid an allergic reaction, those with known or suspected rhubarb allergies need to avoid contact with raw leaves and foods containing rhubarb. If unsure, individuals should consult a doctor about undergoing an allergy test before consuming anything with rhubarb. Allergy symptoms should be taken seriously and addressed promptly by a healthcare professional.

(3) Digestive problems.

Rhubarb is a vegetable that has many health benefits, however, it can also cause some side effects. The most common side effect is digestive problems. High intake of rhubarb can cause diarrhea, stomach pain, constipation, and gas. Rhubarb contains a type of fiber called insoluble fiber which is difficult to digest and can lead to digestive problems.

It can also cause electrolyte imbalances in the body, which can lead to further digestive issues. Additionally, rhubarb contains oxalic acid which can lead to kidney stones if consumed in large amounts. To avoid digestive problems, it is best to consume rhubarb in moderation.

(4) Liver problems

Rhubarb is a common plant used in cooking, and it is generally considered safe to consume. However, there are potential side effects and risks associated with it, particularly when consumed in large amounts. One of these risks is the potential for liver damage. Eating large amounts of rhubarb can cause the buildup of oxalic acid in the liver.

This can lead to inflammation and scarring of the organ, causing symptoms such as fatigue, abdominal pain, and jaundice. Therefore, it is important to consult with your doctor before consuming large amounts of rhubarb to avoid the potential for liver damage.

(5) Blood pressure

Rhubarb has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries, but it can have some side effects, especially when taken in large doses. One of the main side effects of rhubarb is an increase in blood pressure. This is because the plant contains high levels of oxalates, which can narrow the blood vessels and prevent the smooth flow of blood.

Additionally, rhubarb contains a compound called rhein, which has a mild diuretic effect. This can lead to dehydration and an increase in blood pressure. If you are taking rhubarb, it is important to monitor your blood pressure and talk to your doctor if it increases significantly.

(6) Blood Sugar Imbalance

Rhubarb can cause blood sugar imbalances due to its high levels of oxalates, which can interfere with the absorption of dietary sugars. Oxalates also bind to calcium and other minerals, making it difficult for the body to absorb them.

In addition, rhubarb contains a compound called anthraquinone glycosides, which can have a laxative effect and can cause an electrolyte imbalance if consumed in large quantities. If you have diabetes or any other condition related to blood sugar, it is best to consult a healthcare professional before consuming rhubarb.

(7) Not Suitable For Children

Rhubarb is a potentially dangerous plant product that can cause severe health issues in children if ingested. It contains oxalic acid, a toxin that can cause rhubarb poisoning and result in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and headache. In extreme cases, it may lead to loss of consciousness, seizures, and coma.

Furthermore, long-term health issues can arise such as kidney stones and other kidney damage due to oxalic acid accumulation in the body. Therefore, children should never be allowed to consume rhubarb or any products containing it without adult supervision. It is important to educate children on the risks associated with its consumption and keep all forms of rhubarb away from them.

Treatment Options For Side Effects

Rhubarb is known to have a variety of health benefits, but it can also cause some side effects if consumed in large amounts. For mild cases, drinking fluids and eating high-fiber foods can help reduce bloating and other digestive issues. In more severe cases, antihistamines may be prescribed to manage symptoms.

It is important to seek medical advice if symptoms persist or intensify despite at-home remedies being used. Additionally, individuals should avoid further consumption of rhubarb until their condition has been properly assessed by a healthcare professional.

How To Safely Consume Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a vegetable with many uses and benefits, but it must be handled and prepared correctly to ensure safe consumption. To safely consume rhubarb, follow these steps:

  1. Cultivate the rhubarb plants in an area that receives full sun to partial shade in well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter.
  2. Harvest the stalks between mid-spring and late summer. Do not remove any leaves or flowers as these contain oxalic acid, which can cause serious illness when ingested.
  3. Trim the stalks to remove all parts except for the edible portion near their base.
  4. Boil or simmer the rhubarb stalks to eliminate most of the oxalic acid.
  5. Use rhubarb in various recipes such as pies or sauces to enjoy its unique flavor profile.

By following these steps, you can enjoy rhubarb without experiencing negative side effects associated with improper handling and preparation.


Rhubarb is an ancient vegetable with numerous health benefits, including improved digestion and increased fiber intake. However, when consumed in excess, it can cause unpleasant side effects such as nausea, dizziness, headaches, and abdominal cramping. Additionally, it may interact with certain medications, leading to severe reactions such as liver damage and decreased blood pressure.

To ensure the safe consumption of this vegetable, follow labeled instructions on products containing it and consult your healthcare provider before taking any rhubarb-containing supplements. With proper caution, moderate amounts of rhubarb can provide beneficial nutrition without any long-term complications or side effects.

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