You may only know rhubarb from dessert recipes like pie, crumbles and mousse, but here at the Eminence Certified Organic Farm, we swear by this stalky plant’s healing and anti-aging properties. Read on for a closer look at this organic ingredient and how it can benefit your skin.
Is Rhubarb A Fruit Or Vegetable?
With its large leafy stem, rhubarb may resemble crimson-colored celery, but it is actually a fruit. In 1947, a New York court legally declared it such for its culinary use in dessert-style dishes – and to save local businesses the high tariffs levied on imported vegetables.
Rhubarb comes in red, pink and green varieties and takes on a sweeter taste as its hue deepens. Nicknamed “pie plant,” it is typically stewed and added to jams and jellies (and, of course, pie fillings) to lend a tart flavor. But, beware its inedible green leaves – high in oxalic acid, they are toxic and should not be consumed.
Ancient Chinese medicine prized rhubarb for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities and often used it as a purgative or laxative to treat digestive issues. When news of rhubarb’s medicinal use spread, Europeans imported it via the Silk Road, where it fetched a higher price than sought after plants and spices like cinnamon, saffron and even opium.
Rhubarb is jam-packed with minerals, vitamins and compounds that boost your body’s overall health and wellness. These beneficial nutrients include:
- Dietary fiber
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin K
Rhubarb Benefits For The Skin
Rhubarb can also enhance the health of your skin. From fighting free radicals to reducing inflammation, here are a few benefits to consider:
Rhubarb boasts plenty of antioxidant compounds including Vitamin C, beta-carotene, phenolic acid, anthocyanins and more. In fact, rhubarb has been proven to pack an even greater antioxidant punch than kale! Together, these powerful antioxidants help neutralize the aging effects of free radicals. They protect the structural integrity of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid and help your skin remain plump and wrinkle-free for longer.
Inflammation is enemy #1 for your skin. When your body experiences infection, it responds by issuing an immune response. The lymphatic system springs into action and increases blood flow to the area of concern. This influx of white blood cells can cause redness, heat and swelling.
Inflammation is a factor in a number of skin conditions and concerns, including acne breakouts, rosacea and even sagging skin. It can also cause skin wounds to heal more slowly, which affects your skin’s overall health. By promoting optimal blood circulation, rhubarb can help minimize skin inflammation.
Rhubarb is also a natural anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agent. In fact, traditional folk medicine often used a paste of raw rhubarb as a topical application for various skin infections. In neutralizing bacteria, rhubarb can be beneficial in treating bacterial skin conditions such as acne.
Rhubarb also has astringent properties due to its tannin content. This astringent action causes body tissues to shrink and constrict. For this reason, traditional folk medicine has used rhubarb to alleviate such issues as hemorrhoids, internal bleeding and inflamed mucous membranes. For the skin, rhubarb’s astringent qualities can help to shrink the appearance of enlarged pores.
Pigmentation is your skin’s first line of defense against UV exposure. When the skin is exposed to UV rays, an enzyme called tyrosinase triggers the skin’s melanocytes to release melanin, resulting in dark spots and uneven skin tone. Plants from the Polygonaceae family – like rhubarb – are tyrosinase inhibitors that can brighten the appearance of these spots of hyperpigmentation.
What is your favorite way to use rhubarb? Tell us in the comments below and join the conversation on social media!