The stalk of the intensely flavored rhubarb plant has been used in European cooking since the 17th century, and much earlier the stalk and root were used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine.
Although there are many species of rhubarb, the one most studied is Rheum rhaponticum . The root of Rheum rhaponticum contains lindleyin, a substance with estrogen-like properties. On this basis, extracts of rhubarb have been tried for control of menopausal symptoms.
In a 12-week, double-blind study of 109 menopausal women, use of a standardized Rheum rhaponticum extract significantly improved symptoms as compared to placebo. Improvements were measured through the use of a rating scale. Benefits included reduced hot flashes and anxiety. No significant side effects were seen.
This study was conducted in the Ukraine, and used a German standardized product. While it presents meaningful evidence, additional independent trials will be necessary to establish this rhubarb extract as a safe and effective treatment for menopause.