Dried rhubarb root, or Da Huang, is one of the most important and popular herbs in Traditional Chinese Materia Medica. The root is categorized as cold and bitter and is prescribed as a purgative. As such, it is used to treat all sorts of digestive issues, clear heat from the blood, and drain damp. In addition, rhubarb root can be used topically to soothe skin lesions and burns.
The gorgeous red rhubarb stems, which appear each spring and flood the market do not, unfortunately, have the same therapeutic value. Still I love how they help illustrate the powerful connection between food and medicine. I have a teacher who says that absolutely everything we eat should in some way contribute to our health and our ability to fulfill our interests, passions, and desires. He is also the one who advocates eating seeds because seeds are akin to DNA and give birth to all possibilities. Today it is just me and my rhubarb. Crisp, crumble, or compote? I will add some seeds--cardamon probably--as possibilities are, indeed, divine.
Frances Boswell is a licensed acupuncturist at her practice, Qi Sera Sera Acupuncture, in New York City. She focuses on a lesser-known branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which identifies poor diet as a common cause of disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine understands that the importance of food goes beyond ingredients' vitamins, mineral, nutrient and caloric content—food has its own energetic and spiritual role in our health. Frances' aim is to teach this ancient wisdom, apply it to everyday cooking, and work with patients to modify their diets, in addition to acupuncture, to help them live, eat, and be well. Contact Frances here.