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Rhubarb can cause some side effects such as stomach and intestinal pain, watery diarrhea, and uterine contractions. Long-term use can result in muscular weakness, bone loss, potassium loss, and irregular heart rhythm.
There is a report of kidney failure in someone who took a product containing rhubarb. But it's not known for sure if rhubarb was the actual cause of kidney failure.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Children: Rhubarb is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for children. There is one report of a 4-year-old who ate rhubarb leaves and died. Rhubarb leaves contain a lot of oxalic acid, which can be deadly if taken in large enough doses. Because of their small size, children are at highest risk for oxalic poisoning after eating rhubarb leaves.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Rhubarb is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when used in amounts greater than those found in foods.
Diarrhea or constipation: Rhubarb can make diarrhea or constipation worse, depending on the preparation used.
Gastrointestinal (GI) conditions: Don't take rhubarb if you have a bowel obstruction; appendicitis; unexplained stomach pain; or inflammatory conditions of the intestines including Crohn's disease, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Kidney disease: There is a chemical in rhubarb that might harm the kidneys. In fact, a supplement that contained rhubarb has been linked to one report of kidney failure. If you already have kidney disease, don't risk making it worse by taking rhubarb.
Kidney stones: Rhubarb contains a chemical that the body can convert into kidney stones. If you have ever had kidney stones, don't take rhubarb.
Liver problems: Rhubarb can make liver function worse in people who already have liver problems. People who have liver problems should avoid rhubarb.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.