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Rhubarb May Help Critically Ill People Suffering from Gastrointestinal Dysfunction

Gastrointestinal issues are common in critically ill patients, and may lead to multi-organ failure due to bacterial translocation. A recent study suggests that rhubarb may help relieve gastrointestinal injury in critically ill patients, without adverse side effects.


Participants in the study included 386 critically ill people with grade I to grade III acute gastrointestinal injury between June 2016 and May 2017. The participants were divided into two groups: 219 who were given rhubarb and 149 who acted as controls. The researchers collected data within the first 24 hours of the participants being admitted to the intensive care unit and again seven days after treatment. They also collected data regarding survival 28 days after ICU admission, as well as the length of each participant’s ICU stay.


The researchers found that before treatment, the remission rate of feeding intolerance in the rhubarb group and the usual treatment group were 59.8% and 39.6%, respectively. After treatment, the remission rate of feeding intolerance in rhubarb group and usual treatment group was 77.9% and 30.9%, respectively. The rhubarb group had a higher rate of acute gastrointestinal injury improvement, lower level of C-reactive protein, and shorter stay in ICU, when compared with the control group. There was no significant difference in mortality rate between the two groups.


Researchers from The Second Military Medical University in Shanghai conducted the study. It was published on May 20, 2018, in Chinese Medical Journal.

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