Da Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei)

Da Huang

Da Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei) is from the root and rhizome of Rheum palmatum, R. tanguticum or R. officinale, family Polygonaceae. The medicinal material is collected either at the end of autumn or the following spring before the plant sprouts. The hairs and coating are removed, it is then cut into slices or pieces and sun-dried. It can be used unprocessed, steamed or stir-baked with wine or carbonised.

Category: Digestive – Downward Draining Purgative.

Common Name: Rhubarb root and rhizome.

Channels Entered: Spleen, Stomach, Large Intestine, Liver and Heart.

Properties and Functions: Da Huang is bitter in flavour and cold in nature. It has the following functions:

  • Removes stagnation by purging downwards.
  • Clears Heat and purges Fire.
  • Dries Dampness and promotes urination.
  • Cools the Blood and stops bleeding.
  • Clears toxins and promotes blood circulation to remove Blood stasis.

Indications: Clinical applications for Da Huang include:

  • Intestinal stagnation and obstruction of the bowels resulting in constipation due to Heat, Qi and Blood deficiency or insuficiency of Spleen Yang and Cold stagnation.
  • Damp-Heat type dysentery with abdominal pain and tenesmus and also abdominal pain due to food stagnation.
  • Headache, redness of the eyes, sore throat, swollen painful gums and oral ulcers due to flaring Fire with or without constipation.
  • Bleeding due to Blood-Heat manifesting as haematemesis and epistaxis or bleeding due to Blood stasis.
  • Carbuncles and intestinal abscesses due to toxic heat.
  • Postpartum abdominal pain due to blood stasis with abdominal masses, trauma and Blood retention syndrome.
  • As it can clear Damp-Heat, it is used with other herbs to treat Damp-Heat jaundice.

Dosage: 5 – 30g

Cautions and Contra-Indications: Contra-indicated for patients with a weak stomach, for cases of Qi and Blood deficiency, and during pregnancy and breast-feeding.