Treatment with rhubarb improves brachial artery endothelial function in patients with atherosclerosis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial

Am J Chin Med. 2007;35(4):583-95. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X07005089.


Rhubarb has been used to decrease plasma cholesterol levels and reduce vascular endothelial cellular damage in recent years. However, it is not known whether reported lipid-lowering effects are associated with the improvement of endothelial function. This work aimed to elucidate the therapeutic effects of rhubarb on serum lipids and brachial artery endothelial function, as well as to investigate the relationship between them. One hundred and three patients with atherosclerosis were randomly divided into two groups: patients in the control and the trial group received a placebo and rhubarb, respectively, in addition to the 6 month baseline therapy. Serum lipids and brachial artery endothelial functions were measured in all patients before and after treatment. A total of 83 patients completed the 6-month follow-up protocol. Serum total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in the trial group decreased significantly and LDL-C was significantly lower than that in the control group. Flow-mediated dilation (FMD) in the trial group was significantly higher after treatment in comparison to the baseline and to the control group. Improvement in FMD correlated with the decreased magnitude of TC and LDL-C levels. The results obtained appeared to confirm that rhubarb significantly improves endothelial function mainly due to lipid-lowering effects in patients with atherosclerosis.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atherosclerosis / blood
  • Atherosclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Atherosclerosis / physiopathology
  • Brachial Artery / drug effects
  • Brachial Artery / physiopathology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / adverse effects
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phytotherapy / methods
  • Rheum*
  • Vasodilation / drug effects


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Lipids