Spring Tonic



Well it is finally spring and all my garden is in bloom as it holds mostly spring flowers, scilla, rhodies, Welsh poppies and much more.  It smells heavenly.

Out there tucked in around the flowers are plants whose leaves make a nice addition to the texture of the garden.  But beware, the leaves are poisonous.  The stem, however, is a real treat this time of year.  It is the first “fruit” of the season.

Rhubarb is not really a fruit, but we treat is as one.  The Chinese use it as a medicine and seldom eat it as a dish.  “The root is used as an anticholesterolemic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitumor, aperient, astringent, cholagogue, demulcent, diuretic, laxative, purgative, stomachic and tonic. Rhubarb roots contain anthraquinones which have a purgative effect, and the tannins and bitters have an an effect that is opposite that of an astringent.”1 When my friend from China saw it, she couldn’t believe we eat it as a dish and not specifically as a medicine.

In the Midwest and with the early settlers, the roots were carried across to where they settled and planted with a little cow or horse manure. They called it Pie Plant.  It is very commonly used for pie, sometimes with strawberries, but my favorite is with equal parts blueberries.  The perfumed sweetness of the blueberry is nicely offset by the tart, tannins of the rhubarb.

But spring tonic is the best.  When the rhubarb is first ready, I chop it very coarsely and cook it with sugar.  We eat it right from the bowl, plain, or over vanilla ice cream, or with granola and yogurt for breakfast.

I use to cook it in a covered saucepan which required a small amount of water to get it cooking.  Now I just chop it into a glass (pyrex) bowl and sprinkle with sugar and cook it in the microwave until soft.  It isn’t as runny this way and the color stays brighter.

It is delicious.  It is truly a spring tonic with all the “c” vitamins and the fresh taste for the first spring fruits.



An aside:

A pigment found in rhubarb called parietin, has been identified from an FDA database of 2,000 known suppressors of 6PGD, to have killed half the human leukemia cells over two days in the laboratory. The pigment also slowed the growth of other human cancer cells in mouse models. A more-potent derivative of the parietin called S3 may even cut the growth of lung cancer cells implanted in mice by two-thirds, over the course of 11 days.2,3,4


1 http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/medicinal

2 “Cancer Growth Could be Slowed by Little-known Pigment in Rhubarb”. Laboratory Equipment. Retrieved 2015-10-24.

3  “Orange lichens are source for potential anticancer drug”. news.emory.edu. 2015-10-21. Retrieved 2015-10-24.

4  Basile, Adriana; Rigano, Daniela; Loppi, Stefano; Di Santi, Annalisa; Nebbioso, Angela; Sorbo, Sergio; Conte, Barbara; Paoli, Luca; De Ruberto, Francesca (2015-04-09). “Antiproliferative, Antibacterial and Antifungal Activity of the Lichen Xanthoria parietina and Its Secondary Metabolite Parietin”. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 16 (4): 7861–7875. doi:10.3390/ijms16047861. ISSN 1422-0067. PMC: 4425054. PMID 25860944.

2 thoughts on “Spring Tonic

  1. Fabulous, Deon!! My grandmother in South Dakota made me a rhubarb upside down cake from the rhubarbs growing in the backyard of the farm one day. For dinner we had asparagus that grew in a slough in the corner of the “west quarter”. I think I need to plant some rhubarb!!


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