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Yellow dock

Yellow dock
Yellow dock

Scientific name: Rumex crispus
Other names: Curly dock, Curled dock, narrow dock, sour dock, rumex, garden patience.
Habitat: The plant is indigenous to Europe and Africa, but grows wild in many regions of the world. It is usually found at the lower elevations.
Production: Yellow Dock root is the fresh root harvested in spring.


Yellow dock’s constituents include oxalates (oxalic acid, calcium oxalate), tannins, flavonoids (including among others, quercitrin), anthracene derivatives (anthranoids, aglycones physcion, chryosphanol, emodin, aloe-emodin, rhein, their glucosides) and naphthalene derivatives (neopodin 8-glucoside, lapodin). It is also a rich source of iron and other minerals.


Yellow dock is traditionally used as an astringent, liver tonic, blood cleanser/purifier, and digestive tonic. Yellow Dock is used for acute and chronic inflammation of the nasal passages and respiratory tract. It is also used as an adjuvant in antibacterial therapy. The plant has traditionally been used like the Red Dock (R. aquatica) for its similar properties, in decoctions for scurvy and other skin eruptions and infections. It is also used as an astringent for hemorrhoids and pulmonary bleeding. It has been used as a remedy for jaundice and a tonic for the stomach. The fresh roots were boiled in water to provide a decoction for use internally as a laxative. The powdered yellow roots have been used as a tooth cleanser, laxative and antiseptic (Lewis and Elvin-Lewis 1977). To treat sinusitis, scurvy, skin and mucous membrane. Also used when one has feelings of exhaustion all or much of the time. In the case of anaemia, a natural iron herbal formula can be made which include yellow dock and dandelion, to build up the blood. It is also used for female fertility problems.

Medicinally, the crushed leaves can be applied to boils and juice of the leaves used to treat ringworms and other skin parasites. The juice of the plant and a poultice of the leaves have also been applied to the rash and pain caused by stinging nettles. A poultice of leaves was used for nervous or allergic hives. It is used for inflammation of the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract, for asthmatic conditions, tracheal cough and morning diarrhea.

In some traditions, for smallpox and leprosy, the patient would bathe with yellow dock root or burdock root tea. For ulcerated eye and lid, apply warm yellow dock tea, in a poultice, to the eyelid.

For insect stings, spider bites or chiggers one may drink yellow dock tea.

In the case of erysipelas, a suggested remedy is to dissolve the herb in a quart of boiling water, dip a cloth in, cool, and lightly touch the affected areas (do not wipe the skin).

It is valuable in ulcerative stomatitis, in nursing sore mouth, and in ulceration of the stomach with great lack of tone, combined with quercus (oak) or other tonic astringent, it has no equal in these conditions. It has cured exceedingly persistent cases of exhaustive morning diarrhea. It has been used also in the treatment of syphilis and scrofula with good results. (Finley Ellingwood 1919)

Externally: It has been used for ulcers, hard tumours, eruptive skin diseases, etc., have been removed by the application of the bruised root in poultice form.

An ointment made with the root and coconut oil (coconut oil will harden when cold and can be used for rectal suppositories) is also used for external care.

Homeopathic Clinical: Tincture of fresh root for abortion, aphonia, asthma, borborygum, bronchitis, catarrh, corns, coryza, cough, diarrhea, dyspepsia epistaxis, tender feet, gastralgia, indigestion, irritation, lichen, mouth ulceration, phimosis, phthisis, prurigo, rheumatism, sore or ulcerated throat, urticaria and trachea infection.

Food use: The young leaves of yellow dock can be used as greens. The young leaves are best when collected before the flower stalk emerges. Also, because the leaves become watery when cooked, use very little water and do not overcook them. The older leaves in most cases may be too bitter for use. Euell Gibbons (1966) found that the leaves of dock are high in vitamin C and contain more vitamin A than carrots.

Native Americans ground dock seeds and used the meal to make bread. The distinctive sour taste of the plant and other dock species is due to oxalic acid. As with other species that contain oxalic acid, docks should be consumed in small portions as they can cause calcium deficiency.


Poisoning from Rumex spp. has been recorded only in livestock after large quantities were eaten.

No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages. However, mucus membrane irritation, accompanied by vomiting is possible following intake of the fresh rhizome, due to its anthrone content. The anthrones are oxidized to anthraquinones after dehydration and storage.


Root: Tincture [Fresh Root, 1:2, Dry Root, 1:5, 50% alcohol], up to 30-75 drops, to 3 times a day.
Capsules: Size #00, 1 to 2, 2 times a day. Use with moderation in pregnancy. In all cases it works best in sub-laxative doses. (Michael Moore).
Decoction: 1 cup 3 times daily.

Herbal Materia Medica fifth edition by Michael Moore
PDR for Herbal Medicines by Joerg Gruenwald, PhD etal
Materia Medica and Clinical Therapeutics by F.J Petersen M.D.
The Natural Remedies Encyclopedia
A handbook of native American herbs by Alma R. Hutchens
American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy By Finley Ellingwood, M.D., 1919

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