Rhubarb is a plant that enjoys chilly climates and is present in mountainous and temperate areas of the world like Northeast Asia. The species Rheum x hybridum is often grown as an edible vegetable throughout Europe and North America. Though rhubarb is botanically a vegetable, it’s labeled as a fruit in the US ( 1 ). It has lengthy fibrous stalks that vary from darkish pink to pale inexperienced. These are sometimes chopped and cooked with sugar because of their very bitter style. In the meantime, its massive darkish inexperienced leaves look a bit like spinach and are usually not often eaten because of fears about them being toxic or inedible. This text gives all the data you want on the security of rhubarb leaves. Share on Pinterest
Excessive in oxalic acid Rhubarb leaves are thought-about inedible because of their excessive focus of oxalic acid. The truth is, each the stalks and leaves comprise oxalic acid, however the leaves have a a lot increased content material. Oxalic acid is a pure substance discovered in lots of vegetation, together with leafy greens, fruits, greens, nuts, seeds, and cocoa ( 2 ). Rhubarb accommodates roughly 570–1,900 mg of oxalate per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). The leaves comprise probably the most oxalate, comprising 0.5–1.0% of the leaf ( 3 ). An excessive amount of oxalate within the physique can result in a situation referred to as hyperoxaluria, which is when extra oxalate is excreted within the urine. This may additionally result in an accumulation of calcium oxalate crystals within the organs ( 3 ). Within the kidneys, this may result in the formation of kidney stones and finally kidney failure. Signs of delicate rhubarb leaf poisoning embrace vomiting and diarrhea that resolve inside a number of hours. Extra severe oxalate toxicity causes sore throat, issue swallowing, nausea, vomiting (generally together with blood), diarrhea, and belly ache ( 3 ). Very severe signs embrace kidney failure, numbness, muscle twitches, and cramps. abstract Rhubarb leaves comprise oxalic acid, which may trigger construct up within the organs and result in kidney stones and kidney failure when consumed in excessive quantities.
Rhubarb leaf poisoning is uncommon There are only a few studies of both deadly or nonfatal poisoning attributable to consuming rhubarb leaves. The reported common deadly dose for oxalate is estimated at 170 mg per pound (375 mg per kg) of physique weight, which is roughly 26.3 grams for a 154-pound (70-kg) particular person ( 4 ). This implies an individual must eat between 5.7–11.7 kilos (2.6–5.3 kg) of rhubarb leaves for a probably deadly dose of oxalate, relying on the focus of oxalate within the leaf. Nonetheless, deadly quantities have additionally been reported at decrease consumption ranges ( 2 , 5 , 6 ). Throughout World Warfare I, individuals had been suggested to eat rhubarb leaves as an alternative to greens that had been unavailable on the time, resulting in studies of a number of poisonings and deaths ( 3 ). There have been additionally studies of poisonings through the Nineteen Sixties, however as a result of it’s very unusual to eat rhubarb leaves, there aren’t any studies of deaths from rhubarb leaves in more moderen occasions ( 5 ). Nonetheless, there are circumstances of individuals creating kidney injury from consuming excessive quantities of rhubarb stems, which additionally comprise oxalic acid ( 7 ). Moreover, some individuals are extra vulnerable to creating kidney stones and kidney injury from oxalates. This consists of individuals with sure genetic situations, in addition to these with current kidney injury, a excessive vitamin C consumption, or vitamin B6 deficiency ( 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 ). It has additionally been steered that each deadly and nonfatal rhubarb leaf poisoning could also be attributable to one other substance referred to as anthraquinone glycosides — not the oxalic acid. Nonetheless, extra analysis is required ( 3 ). abstract Experiences of poisoning from consuming rhubarb leaves are very uncommon. An individual would wish to eat important quantities of rhubarb leaves to induce signs, though some individuals could also be extra vulnerable to creating kidney issues from oxalates.