Rumex crispus-Yellow Dock
Other names: Curled,Curly Dock, Lapathum crispum (L.) Scop, Rumex elongatus Guss.
Habitat: Most of Europe, including Britain, to N. Africa. Growing almost anywhere, it is found especially in grassy places, waste ground, roadsides and near sand dunes and is a serious weed of agriculture.
Plants can contain quite high levels of oxalic acid, which is what gives the leaves of many members of this genus an acid-lemon flavour. Perfectly alright in small quantities, the leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since the oxalic acid can lock-up other nutrients in the food, especially calcium, thus causing mineral deficiencies. The oxalic acid content will be reduced if the plant is cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition. Avoid during pregnancy & breast feeding.
Yellow dock has a long history of domestic herbal use. It is a gentle and safe laxative, less powerful than rhubarb in its action so it is particularly useful in the treatment of mild constipation. The plant has valuable cleansing properties and is useful for treating a wide range of skin problems. All parts of the plant can be used, though the root is most active medicinally. The root is alterative, antiscorbutic, astringent, cholagogue, depurative, laxative and mildly tonic. It used to be sold as a tonic and laxative. It can cause or relieve diarrhoea according to the dose, harvest time and relative concentrations of tannin(astringent) and anthraquinones (laxative) that are present. It is used internally in the treatment of constipation, diarrhoea, piles, bleeding of the lungs, various blood complaints and also chronic skin diseases. Externally, the root can be mashed and used as a poultice and salve, or dried and used as a dusting powder, on sores, ulcers, wounds and various other skin problems. The root has been used with positive effect to restrain the inroads made by cancer, being used as an alterative and tonic. The root is harvested in early spring and dried for later use. Some caution is advised in its use since excess doses can cause gastric disturbance, nausea and dermatitis. The seed is used in the treatment of diarrhoea. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh root, harvested in the autumn before frost has touched the plant. It is only used in the treatment of a specific type of cough.
Description of Yellow Dock:
Rumex crispus, Yellow Dock is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to October, and the seeds ripen from Jul to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation of Yellow Dock:
Succeeds in most soils, preferring a moist moderately fertile well-drained soil in a sunny position. The plant does not need any help in growing, it is doing very nicely in Britain where it is a serious weed of agriculture. A very important food plant for the caterpillars of many species of butterfly
Propagation of Yellow Dock:
Seed – this plant does not require any help in its propagation.
Collection: The roots should be unearthed in late summer and autumn, between August and October. Clean well and split length ways before drying.
Culinary uses of Yellow Dock:
Edible Parts: Leaves, Seed.
Edible Uses: Coffee.
Leaves – raw or cooked. They can also be dried for later use. The leaves can be added to salads, cooked as a potherb or added to soups. Only the very young leaves should be used, preferably before the stems have developed, and even these are likely to be bitter. If used in early spring and in the autumn they can often be fairly pleasant tasting. The leaves are very rich in vitamins and minerals, especially iron and the vitamins A and C. A nutritional analysis is available. Stems – raw or cooked. They are best peeled and the inner portion eaten. Seed – raw or cooked. It can be used as a piñole or can be ground into a powder and used as a flour for making pancakes etc. The seed is very fiddly to harvest and prepare. The roasted seed has been used as a coffee substitute.
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Fresh weight)
- 21 Calories per 100g
- Water : 92.6%
- Protein: 1.5g; Fat: 0.3g; Carbohydrate: 4.1g; Fibre: 0.9g; Ash: 1.5g;
- Minerals – Calcium: 74mg; Phosphorus: 56mg; Iron: 5.6mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
- Vitamins – A: 1.38mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.06mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.08mg; Niacin: 0.4mg; B6: 0mg; C: 30mg;
Actions: Alterative, laxative, hepatic, cholagogue, tonic.
Part Used: Root.
Indications: Yellow Dock is used extensively in the treatment of chronic skin complaints such as psoriasis. The anthraquinones present have a markedly cathartic action on the bowel, but in this herb they act in a mild way, possible tempered by the tannin content. Thus it makes a valuable remedy for constipation, working as it does in a much wider way than simply stimulating the gut muscles. It promotes the flow of bile and has that somewhat obscure action of being a “ blood cleanser’ The action on the gall-bladder gives it a role in the treatment of jaundice when this is due to congestion.
Priest & Priest tell us that it is a ” general tonic alterative with special influence upon skin eruptions.” They give the following specific indications: simple deficiency anaemias. Eczema, psoriasis, urticaria, prurigo, itching æmorrhoids.
Ellingwood considered that its “alterative properties are underestimated. It is a renal depurant and general alterative of much value when ulceration of mucous surfaces or disease of the skin resulting from impure blood. It acts directly in its restorative influence, purifying the blood, removing morbific material and quickly cures the disease conditions.” In addition he recommends it for the following pathologies: ulcerative stomatitis, nursing sore mouth, syphilis, scrofula, cancer,tuberculosis.
King’s Dispensatory describe its specific indications as being “bad blood with chronic skin disease; bubonic swellings; low deposits in glands and cellular tissues, and tendency to indolent ulcers; feeble recuperative power; irritative, dry laryngo- tracheal cough; stubborn, dry, summer cough; chronic sore throat, with glandular enlargements and hypersecretion; nervous dyspepsia, with epigastric fullness and pain extending through left half of chest; cough, with dyspnoea and sense of praecordial fullness.”
Combinations: It will combine well with Dandelion, Burdock and Cleavers.
Preparations & Dosage:
Decoction: put 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the root in a cup of water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.
Yellow Dock Tincture: take 1-4ml of the tincture three times a day.
Other uses of Yellow Dock:
Yellow, dark green to brown and dark grey dyes can be obtained from the roots. They do not need a mordant. An alternative ingredient of ‘QR’ herbal compost activator. (is it the flowers?) This is a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost.
Esoteric uses of Yellow Dock:
Fertility, healing and money. Sprinkle an infusion of yellow dock around a place of business to attract customers.
- Anthraquinone glycosides, about 3-4%, includingnepodin, and others based on chrysophanol, physcion and emodin
- Miscellaneous; tannins, rumicin and oxalates.