Yellow dock Monograph
botanical name: Rumex Crispus
Yellow dock, dock, curly dock, narrow-leaf dock, sour dock
Root, seeds and young leafs
Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa
Dig roots in the autumn after the entire plant has turned reddish-brown.
Collect young leaves that have recently unfurled in early spring. (1)
Yellow dock, also known as Rumex crispus, is a common weed that can be found in waste places, near roadsides, and on street corners. While it may be considered a nuisance by some, yellow dock has a variety of medicinal properties. Its root is often used as a bitter tonic to help with digestion and promote bowel movements. However, unlike harsh laxatives, yellow dock works gently with the body's natural rhythms to promote more efficient peristalsis. As a life-death-life doula, yellow dock helps to tune the body's internal instruments for optimal health and wellness. (2)
Yellow dock has also been used topically as a natural remedy for various skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. The plant's high content of tannins and anthraquinones give it anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can soothe and heal irritated skin. Yellow dock can be applied as a poultice or infused in oil for topical use.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine and other Indigenous traditions, the connection between our emotions and physical health has long been recognized. The lungs are believed to hold onto our grief, which can be released through both breathing and bowel movements. Yellow Dock, a natural laxative, is considered a helpful ally in releasing emotional burdens and allowing for a fresh start with each breath. As a "grief worker" in the plant world, Yellow Dock can aid in the process of letting go and moving forward.
Yellow Dock, a plant commonly used for digestive issues, has also been used by Indigenous cultures for respiratory disorders for thousands of years. The Cheyenne and Iroquois nations have used Yellow Dock root to treat coughs, colds, throat aches, and hemorrhaging in the lungs. This may seem like a discrepancy, but Traditional Chinese Medicine offers a holistic view of the body and explains that the respiratory and digestive systems are interdependent. When one system is strengthened, the other is also strengthened. Therefore, tonifying the digestive and elimination system with Yellow Dock can also benefit the respiratory system.(3)
Yellow dock has been used in Ayurveda to balance excess pitta, particularly when it results in an overproduction of bile. In this ancient tradition, high pitta is associated with feelings of anger, while bile has long been linked in Western medicine with irritability, tension, and anger. The digestive system is closely connected to our emotions and intuition, and yellow dock can help restore balance in this area. By releasing blockages and negative influences, yellow dock can help us move forward and gain a deeper understanding of ourselves.(4)
Yellow dock, also known as Rumex crispus, has been used for centuries to treat gastrointestinal issues. More recently, studies have explored the potential benefits of yellow dock in treating colorectal cancer. In one study, a methanol extract of the plant's root was found to have properties that could potentially fight against diabetes, cancer, and free radicals in laboratory settings.
(5) A 2015 study found water soluble compounds from R. crispus to have anticancer activity on human colon cancer cells. (6) Yellow dock, a plant commonly found in North America, contains chrysophanic acid, an anthraquinone that has shown potential in blocking the growth of human colon cancer cells. However, further studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of yellow dock in treating colon cancer.
In addition to its medicinal properties, yellow dock is also a nutritious food source. The leaves of the plant can be cooked and eaten as a leafy green vegetable, or added to soups and stews for flavor and nutrition. The plant's high content of vitamins A and C, as well as minerals like iron and calcium, make it a valuable addition to any diet.
One interesting characteristic of yellow dock is that its roots contain a pigment called anthraquinone, which gives the plant a distinctive reddish-brown color. This color can be used as an indicator of the plant's iron content, as iron is required for the formation of this pigment. In fact, some herbalists and traditional healers have used the color of yellow dock roots as a way to gauge their potency and effectiveness as a natural source of iron.
Adult Dose (dosage information by David Hoffman) (8)
Decoction: 6-12 g dried root/day divided into 1-3 doses
Alterative, Antibacterial, Anticancer,Anti-Fungal,Antioxidant,Astringent,Cholagogue,Laxative, Blood tonic
Yellow dock, a plant commonly used in herbal medicine, should be used with caution. Ingesting large amounts, particularly of the fresh root, can lead to digestive issues such as nausea and diarrhea. To avoid any adverse effects, it is recommended to use yellow dock in moderation and for short periods of time, typically no longer than 2-3 weeks.
(1) Masé, G. (2013). The wild medicine solution: Healing with aromatic, bitter, and tonic plants. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
(3) Moerman, D. (2009). Native American medicinal plants. Portland, OR: Timber Press.
(4) Frawley, D., & Lad, V. (1986). The yoga of herbs: An ayurvedic guide to herbal medicine. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.
(5) Shiwani, S., Singh, N.K., & Wang, M.H. (2012). Carbohydrase inhibition and anti-cancerous and free radical scavenging properties along with DNA and protein protection ability of methanolic root extracts of Rumex crispus. Nutrition Research and Practice, 6(5), 389-395. https://doi.org/10.4162/nrp.2012.6.5.389
(6) Bhandari, M., & Clark, B. (2015). Extraction of anti-cancer water soluble compounds from Rumex crispus. The FASEB Journal, 29
(7) Lee, M.S., Cha, E.Y., Sul, J.Y., Song, I.S., & Kim, J.Y. (2011). Chrysophanic acid blocks proliferation of colon cancer cells by inhibiting EGFR/mTOR pathway. Phytotherapy Research, 25(6), 833-837. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.3323
(8 Medical herbalism by David Hoffman
Antibacterial screening of Rumex species native to the Carpathian Basin and bioactivity-guided isolation of compounds from Rumex aquaticus
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