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Yellow Dock

Home :: Yellow Dock

Yellow Dock

Scientific Name(S): Rumex crispus L. Family: Polygonaceae

Common Name(S): Yellow dock, curly dock, curled dock, narrow dock, sour dock, rumex .

Yellow dock is native to Europe and Asia, and grows throughout North America as a common weed. In Europe it is cultivated as a vegetable. The part used medicinally is the root. It is used in treating all diseases of the blood and skin. It is very high in iron, making it useful for treating anemia. It nourishes the spleen and liver, detoxifies the liver, and cleanses and enriches the blood.

Botany: A perennial herb that grows to 3 to 4 feet, yellow dock has narrow, slender light green leaves with undulated margins. It flowers in June and July. Although native to Europe, it grows throughout the United States. The yellow roots (deep, spindle-shaped) and rhizomes are used medicinally.

History: The spring leaf stalks of this plant have been used as a potherb in salads but is disagreeable to some because of its tart sour-sweet taste. The plant must be boiled and rinsed thoroughly before being eaten. Due to its astringent properties, the plant has been used (generally unsuccessfully) in the treatment of venereal diseases and skin conditions. The powdered root has been used as a natural dentifrice. Larger amounts have been given as a laxative and tonic.

Uses of Yellow Dock

Yellow dock has a mild laxative effect, due to constituents called anthraquinone glycosides. It stimulates bile and digestive enzymes.

  • Poor digestion
  • Skin conditions
  • Mild constipation
  • Liver detox

Side Effects of Yellow Dock

The oxalate content of the leaves may result in GI symptoms or kidney damage. The stewed leaf stalks can be eaten as a potherb, but mature and uncooked leaves should be avoided. Overdose of the root may cause diarrhea, nausea, and polyuria.

Excessive use of yellow dock can cause a blood disorder called metabolic acidosis and life-threatingin calcium deficiency in the blood. Call your health practitioner if you experience signs of low blood calcium, such as fatigue, seizures, confusion, muscle spasms, and numbness around the mouth.

Yellow dock should not be used by pregnant or nursing women.


A tincture of yellow dock, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon (1-2 ml) three times per day, can be used. Alternatively, a tea can be made by boiling 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 grams) of root in 2 cups (500 ml) of water for ten minutes. Three cups (750 ml) may be drunk each day.

Toxicology: The oxalate crystals damage mucosal tissue resulting in severe irritation and possible tissue damage. The ingestion of large amounts of oxalates may result in gastrointestinal symptoms; systemic absorption of oxalates may result in kidney damage. Ingestion of the plant by livestock has resulted in death. The stewed leaf stalks can be eaten as a potherb, but mature and uncooked leaves should be avoided. Overdoses of the root extract may cause diarrhea, nausea, and polyuria in humans.

One traditional remedy for dermatitis and rashes suggest applying the juice of Rumex spp. However, sensitive people may develop dermatitis after contact with yellow dock.

Summary: The roots of yellow dock and related Rumex species exert a laxative effect. The oxalate content of the leaf is significant enough to warrant boiling young leaves eaten as salads; older and uncooked leaves should not be eaten.

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