Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Yellow Dock-Rumex Crispus

Also known as curly dock, rumex, sour dock, garden patience and narrow dock.

Parts used:   root (dug during dormancy and dried), fresh leaves

Meridians/Organs affected:  liver, colon, circulatory, digestive, glandular

alterative, tonic, depurant, antiscorbutic, detergent, astringent, cholagogue, aperient, blood tonic, antimicrobial, hepatic, antisyphilitic, cathartic, nutritive

Part of the buckwheat family, yellow dock originated in Europe, Africa and parts of Asia.  Now it is the most widely distributed herb in the world and it can virtually be found anywhere.  This is understandable as one dock plant can produce 30,000 or more seeds per year (yes I did say 30,000 or more) and these can remain dormant for up to 50 years.  So it is easy to see how dock can be found in every region of the world.

To many, yellow dock is considered to be a weed.  In Britian they passed the Weeds Act of 1949 stipulating that farmers (and others) do everything they could to eradicate dock (along with 4 other 'weeds' which were spear thistle, creeping thistle, ragwort and field thistle).

Dock is not particularly a picky plant and will grow in almost any soil.  It can be found in fields, lawns, gardens, etc.

Yellow dock has been known for centuries as a blood cleanser (used by the Chinese, the Indian culture and the Greeks).  In fact, the Greek name for yellow dock is 'lapathum' which literally means "blood purifier".  It has been found that dock with literally change the soil it is in to obtain the iron that is in it.  As such, yellow dock has the most assimilable iron content of any plant in nature.  Hence it's use over the years not just as blood purifier but also as a blood builder and useful for such things as menstrual issues, anemic conditions, blood poisoning as well as any blood borne illness or pathogen.

Yellow dock is a tap-rooted perennial that can grow as tall as 5-6 feet.  It has long lance-shaped leaves that are often curled and alternate on the stem.  The single stem is usually red in color with long clusters of greenish-white flowers (which turn a reddish color at maturity).  Yellow dock usually 'flowers' May to July, but the root is best gathered in the early spring (March to April) or fall (September through October).  It may be gathered anytime of day or night.  The root is a beautiful yellow color on the inside and should be cut or sliced and dried for future use.

The Irish used to chant songs regarding dock to remind them it was/is a remedy for stinging nettle.  In fact, the uses of yellow dock go just as far back for skin conditions as they do for blood issues.  Culpeper (1653) would boil the roots in vinegar for bathing the skin for such conditions as scabs, itches, bites, cuts, sunburn, chronic acne, boils, rheumatic complaints, etc.  The powdered root was used to soothe inflamed gums as well.

The Anglo-Saxons would crush dock leaves in grease (lard or tallow), wrap them in a warmed cabbage leaf and apply this as a poultice to a swollen groin (which is common among sportsmen).  The Tswana women of South Africa would warm the leaves and apply them to swollen breasts during lactation and they were also used as a treatment for hemorrhoids.

The young leaves are high in iron and vitamins and if boiled in two or more changes of water, can be consumed in moderation.  (CAUTION:  This plant is high in oxalic acid AND tannins so if suffering from kidney stones or prone to stone formation you probably don't want to use this plant long term.  Also remember if drinking this as a tea, due to the tannin content please use milk with it so the proteins in the milk will bind with the tannins in the dock and nullify them).

Yellow dock has also long been known to herbalists and nutritionists as a liver tonic and a liver stimulant.  It establishes balance in the liver and digestive tract and stimulates bile flow.  Some people believe it also helps the body eliminate heavy metals.  It does have a laxative effect and has been used as such off and on over the years as it is mild in its working.  It has been used for acid stomach and acid reflux, diarrhea, dysentery, colitis and enteritis.  As it can cleanse and cool the system it is often used in liver detox combinations and for maladies relating to the lymph and spleen (when used in small amounts over a long period of time).

Dock was often used by the Native American Indians for colon and bladder problems, jaundice, inflammation of the glands and glandular issues in general.  It was also taken internally to clear up cases of psoriasis, eczema and urticaria (hives).  It has been used by the Chinese for hundreds of years for cancer and acute leukemia.  It is a good source of B-Complex vitamins as well as vitamin C.  The decoction of the root has also been found useful for thyroid dysfunction.

As usual, I have a host of recipes I use for things involving yellow dock.  If you wish to have those please email me via the site here.  I have also included some links below to yellow dock items you might be interested in.





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