Weekly Herb Review #14-Yellow Dock

Common Names: Yellow Dock (AKA Curly Dock, Narrow Dock, Sour Dock)

Scientific Name: Rumex crispus (Rumex meaning a?lancea and Crispus meaning a?curleda or a?crispa)

Family: Polygonaceae (the Buckwheat, Rhubarb and Sorrel family)

Parts Used: Root; young leaves can be gathered and eaten as a pot herb, twice boiled to get rid of the oxalates.

Harvesting: Yellow Dock is a common weed found in meadows, open spaces and along roadsides. It is best to gather the roots in late summer or autumn, after flowering. Clean and dry them well. The darker orange the root, the more anthraquinones it contains.

Qualities: Bitter, Cooling, Astringent

Constituents/Nutrition: High in bio available Iron, Manganese, Phosphorus, and Vitamin A; Calcium oxalates and oxalic acid are in higher concentration in the leaves but also in the root; fatty acids, anthraquinone glycosides (which are responsible for the mild laxative effects), sugars, mucilage, tannins, Rumicin, starch.

Properties/Actions: Alterative, Laxative, Hepatic, Cholagogue, Tonic, Astringent, Digestive, Antimicrobial.

Uses/Indications: One of the best herbs for stagnant or sluggish digestion or liver function, a?hota livers and a?hota digestion. Yellow Dock increases digestive function by increasing bile release and flow from the gall bladder and aiding in the digestion and elimination of fats and oils. Also considered a general tonic and a?blood cleansera. The glycosides cause Sodium and Water to move into the bowel, softening the stool and increasing motility. All of this leads to increased movement of toxins out of the body. The liver works more effectively and the bowel moves more efficiently, so toxins are carried out quicker. This lightens the load on other areas of elimination, such as the skin and lungs. Thus it is a primary herb for skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne. And if the liver is no longer sluggish it is able to process hormones more effectively (think decrease in prostate issues, heavy bleeding, infertility issues, jaundicea|). The tannins in Yellow Dock help to tone and aastringea the bowel mucosa, decreasing the effects of aleaky guta. The high amount of bioavailable Iron also makes this herb good for anemia and fatigue.

Folk History/Magical Uses: Used in Medieval times to cure boils, burns, scalds, and syphilitic lesions. In the 19th Century itas primary use was for jaundice, and as a liver and gall bladder tonic. It was thought to be good for the gall bladder and liver function because of its yellow root, the Doctrine of Signatures for abilea.

Also used as a cloth dye.

Cautions/Side Effects: Because if its oxalic acid content, Yellow Dock should be used cautiously with clients who have a history of kidney stones.

Some herbalists recommend not using Yellow Dock in pregnancy due to its bowel stimulation, although it has been used traditionally as an iron tonic in pregnant women.

Fresh Yellow Dock may cause vomiting (although, I have never had this happen with a fresh root tincture. When ever I found this stated, it was not specified if they just meant eating the fresh yellow dock, if it was root or leaf they were talking about, or if they meant fresh root tincture. Hmmmm). It is recommended by some herbalists to let it dry for one year before tincturing it.

Preparation/Dosage: Decoction, Tincture, Mouthwash, Poultice, Salve, Capsules
Decoction a 1 tsp. root/cup H2O; take 1/2 c. BID or TID
Tincture 1/4 a 1 tsp TID; 1:5 dried, 25 a 50% EtOH
BHP recommends 1-2 ml tincture, 1:5 dried, 45% EtOH, TID


Beer of the Green Gods
Take 2 OZ. each of dried Dandelion and Nettle herbs and 1 OZ. of Yellow Dock. Boil in 1 gallon of water for 15 minutes and then strain the liquor while hot on to 2 Lb. of sugar, on the top of which is sprinkled 2 Tbsp. of powdered Ginger. Leave till luke-warm, then add boiled water gone cold to bring the quantity up to 2 gallons. The temperature must then not be above 75 degrees F. Now dissolve 1/2 oz. solid yeast in a little of the liquid and stir into the bulk. Allow to ferment 24 hours, skim and bottle, and it will be ready for use in a day or two.

My Thoughts: The a?docksa were some of the first plants I got to know as medicinal herbs. I love how available they are for everyone to enjoy their amazing healing abilities! Yellow Dock has always been a great friend to me, feeling like a wonderful tonic in times of sluggishness, too much heat, and a wonderful spring herb.

Green, J. (1991). The male herbal: health care for men and boys. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press.

Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Hops. Retrieved on March 28, 2006 from

Onstad, D. (1996). Whole foods companion. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Pederson, M. (1994). Nutritional herbology. revised edition. Indiana: Wendell W. Whitman Company.

Rumex Crispus. Retrieved on March 28, 2006 from

Rumex Crispus. Retrieved on March 28, 2006 from

Skenderi, G. (2003). Herbal vade mecum. New Jersey: Herbacy Press.

Tierra, L. (1992). The herbs of live: health & healing using western & chinese techniques. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press.

3 thoughts on “Weekly Herb Review #14-Yellow Dock

  1. “It is recommended by some herbalists to let it dry for one year before tincturing it.”

    do you do this?

  2. No. In fact, I have made a fresh root tincture without any problems. I can’t find anywhere why the fresh root tincture would make you vomit. And, now that I think about it, the information stated “fresh yellow dock may cause vomiting”. So, does that mean eating it? And are you eating root, or leaves? Does this mean tincture??? I couldn’t find more specifics.

    Good question!

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