THE HERBAL CORNER - "Yellow Dock" (Rumex Crispus)

YELLOW DOCK is a tall perennial plant of the buckwheat family with a long history of medicinal use. It is native to northern Europe and Asia but is adaptable and has spread to various temperate parts of the world in recent centuries. The part of the plant used medicinally is the yellowish, carrot-like root.

The ancient Romans, Chinese, and others used species of Rumex (the genus includes various docks and sorrels) for skin complaints and digestive conditions. Yellow Dock has especially been employed to treat chronic skin conditions that are thought to result from toxicities due to poor liver and digestive function. Mixed with dandelion root, Yellow Dock is a traditional liver rejuvenator. It is sometimes used for jaundice, hepatitis, and other liver ailments. Along with other herbs such as gentian, Yellow Dock is a traditional bitter herb. Bitters are used as spring tonics to "cleanse the blood," and, on occasion, to stimulate appetite and promote complete digestion. Folk healers have used Yellow Dock topically to treat wounds, ringworm, hemorrhoids, and skin conditions. Yellow Dock has also traditionally been used to treat abdominal pain and cramps, arthritis and rheumatism, chronic bronchitis, female problems, and anemia.

Yellow Dock remains a useful herb for addressing acne, psoriasis, eczema, boils, and other skin conditions. Its bitter taste seems to stimulate appetite and increase the flow of bile, thus making it a useful remedy for conditions associated with poor digestion, such as flatulence and heartburn. Many herbalists still recommend it to promote liver function and detoxification of the blood. In low doses Yellow Dock is a gentle laxative that can relieve chronic constipation. Topically it is astringent and potentially anti-bacterial. Yellow Dock may also help to prevent or treat: inflammations of the nasal passages and respiratory tract; rheumatoid iritis, an autoimmune inflammation of the iris; and nervous indigestion.

Do scientists know how it works?
Small amounts of anthraquinone glycosides account for the mild laxative property of Yellow Dock. Their bitter taste may also affect digestion and appetite. Yellow Dock's astringency is due to tannins. In addition the herb contains oxalic acid and other oxalates, flavonoids, and a volatile oil. It is also rich in iron.

Yellow Dock root is available as a liquid extract, in capsules and tablets, and in tea bags. It is a common ingredient in formulas for hair, skin, and nails; colon cleansing; detoxification; blood cleansing; and circulatory and liver conditions. Yellow Dock root is relatively safe although it should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Some people taking it may experience mild diarrhea or nausea. The fresh leaves are high in oxalates and in large doses can reduce nutrient absorption or cause toxic side effects.

Please note: the information contained herein has been compiled from various sources. The above statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. We make no claims, either expressed or implied, that any treatments mentioned in this newsletter will cure disease, replace prescription medication, or supersede sound medical advice.


The Olive Branch, On the Net since 1996