Yellow Dock

Rumex crispus

Herbs gallery - Yellow Dock

Common names

  • Chin-ch'iao-mai
  • Curled Dock
  • Garden Patience
  • Narrow Dock
  • Parell
  • Patience Herb
  • Sour Dock
  • Yellow Dock

For centuries, herbal medical practitioners have been prescribing the roots of various genus of dock as a therapy for blood and liver ailments. Even to this day, many herbalists continue to prescribe the same, but with somewhat dissimilar terms. Books on modern herbal medicine describe the yellow dock or Rumex crispus L. belonging to the Polygonaceae family as an effective alterative as well as laxative. In brief, alterative means a remedy for healing syphilis and other associated venereal ailments (diseases pertaining or related to or transmitted by sexual contact).

Yellow dock is a perennial herb. The herb normally grows around four feet above the ground and bears willowy leaves that are marked by undulating and twisted edges. Owing the special characteristic of the leaves, yellow dock is also known as the curly dock. Although the herb is indigenous to Europe and some parts of Africa, it is now found in most places, including the United States. It may be found growing in abundance in waste places, roadsides or even dumps and ditches. While the leaves of yellow dock are also eaten as a potherb (any plant that is boiled to be eaten), basically the deep yellow roots and rhizomes (subversive parts) are therapeutically useful. In fact, a number of similar species of yellow dock is used for medication. It may be noted when The National Formulary listed Rumex crispus L. as a medicinal herb, R. obtusifolius L. was also selected as a basis for the remedy.

Scientific researches have recognized the presence of various anthraquinone by-products such as chrysophanic acid, emodin, physcion and others to be present in yellow dock. All these derivatives are responsible for the herb's proven laxative action. In effect, one of the researches has shown that the total anthraquinone content in yellow dock's root is 2.17%, much higher that the 1.42% strength of the substance found in therapeutic rhubarb. It may be noted here that the medicinal rhubarb should not be confused for the garden rhubarb that has very poor concentration of anthraquinones. The fact is that rhubarb as well as yellow dock are members of the same family and many members of the Polygonaceae enclose anthraquinones together with considerable percentage of tannin.

It is interesting as well as difficult to comprehend how an ordinary laxative medication has succeeded in preserving its repute and value for also being an efficient remedy for venereal disease (sexually transmitted ailment) and its different symptoms, particularly the skin disorders. This only goes on to show how insignificantly the qualities or their absence in different herbal remedies are still be evaluated by their admirers. However, in the case of yellow dock, there is no physiological or chemical proof to back up such medicinal assertions. Nevertheless, presence of anthraquinones and tannin in yellow dock, the laxative as well as astringent properties of this medicinal herb are well established.

Not aware of the herb's therapeutic value, many consider yellow dock as a problematic weed that grows abundantly in the garbage dumps and fields all over Europe, the United States as well as southern Canada. Yellow dock has a spindle-like yellow taproot that sends up a soft, somewhat slim stem that grows up to one to four feet in height. The contour of the leaves of the herb is lance-like or oblong-lanceolate and primarily has undulating edges. The lower part of the herb's leaves are larger and longer petioled compared to the tip. In other words, the leaves are much longer than wide, broadest below the middle and tapering to the apex. The herb bears plentiful of light green floppy flowers that form a loose group arranged along a single peduncle. The seeds of yellow dock are pointed and triangular in shape, while the kernel often resembles the form of a heart.

A decoction prepared from yellow dock is an immensely beneficial laxative and helps heal constipation. Preparing the decoction too is easy. In order to formulate an effective yellow dock decoction, simply boil one qt of water, reduce the heat and add one cup of sliced fresh or dehydrated root of the herb. Cover the container and seethe for around 12 minutes. Next, remove the cover and allow the chopped roots to steep in the liquid for another one to one-and-a-half hours. Sieve the liquid, sweeten it with honey and drink as many as four cups of it daily, particularly during the brief week-ends. It is a mild-mannered foodstuff from which much of the nutrients are derived from liquids.

When the decoction prepared from yellow dock roots is cooled, it may be used to wash or bathe different skin problems and essentially alleviated itching and inflammation. Equivalent amounts of sage and yellow dock root may be used to prepare a fantastic tea which can be drunk while using a sauna or sitting in a Jacuzzi. However, here is a word of caution. People suffering from hypertension should essentially stay away from such extreme heat. Drinking a cup of warm tea prepared with yellow dock root chopping enhances digestion and improves appetite. This is especially beneficial after a heavy meal or consuming rich foodstuff. In addition, the yellow dock tea is also helpful in assisting the liver as well as invigorating the colon.

Syrup prepared from yellow dock is an efficient medication for alleviating problems of the upper respiratory system like emphysema (a chronic, irreversible disease of the lungs). Preparing the syrup is simple. Take a pint of distilled water and boil half pound of yellow dock root in it until the liquid is diminished to a meager cupful. Sieve the liquid and throw away the boiled root. Add half a cup dark honey, half a cup blackstrap molasses (thick, dark, heavy sweet syrup) and one teaspoon of pure maple syrup to the strained liquid. You may also add a pinch of vanilla to it for essence. Blend everything by hand till you produce a smooth thick sweet sticky liquid or syrup. This syrup may be taken one teaspoon at a time to heal bronchitis, asthma as well as cease tickling or scratching commotion in the throat or the lungs.

As mentioned earlier, yellow dock has a strong purification result in the body. The herb helps to incite a bowl movement inside a few hours of consuming it. At the same time, yellow dock lessens any surplus activity of the intestines and comforts inflammation of the intestinal lining. These properties of the yellow dock have helped to establish the herb as a long term therapy for slow-moving bowels. Yellow dock is also beneficial for curing bowel infections as well as treating peptic ulcers. The herb also comforts irritation or itchiness in the respiratory system. Sour glycosides present in yellow dock aids in assisting as well as invigorating the liver, healing poor absorption of nutrients by the body as well as alleviating wind. Additionally, yellow dock root also possess diuretic functions and enhances urine production. It also removes toxins from the body through the urinary system. Yellow dock roots are also beneficial for healing gout (arthritis caused by a salt of uric acid crystals in the joint), cystitis (inflammation of the bladder), water retention, urinary stones and gravel (stone particle).

Over the centuries, yellow dock has proved to be an outstanding medication for skin problems like weeping eczema, psoriasis (a chronic disease of the skin consisting of itchy, dry, red patches, usually affecting the scalp or arms and legs), nettle rash, boils and abscesses (pus-filled, inflamed area around a tooth). This medicinal herb is effective in activating clogged blood and lymph. In addition, yellow dock can extract toxins out of tissues and also ensure their removal from the body. In fact, the herb can be used wherever there is blockage, heat and irritation. Yellow dock is an outstanding supplement to recommendations for arthritis, gout, rheumatism (any painful disorder of the joints or muscles or connective tissues) and chronic lymphatic congestion. The herb is also beneficial for women as it has been extensively used for healing unbalanced menstrual cycles, heavy bleeding during periods, menstrual pain and also as fibroids (non-cancerous tumors) in the uterus.

The yellow dock roots are rich in iron content and hence offer an exceptional medication for anemia (low hemoglobin content in blood). The herb has earned a reputation as a reinvigorating remedy owing to its iron content as well as it beneficial action on the liver. Yellow dock is intensively uses for curing general weakness or loss of strength, mental stupor, headaches, convalescence, depression as well as irritability. Yellow dock also has calming and healing effects and hence it makes for a superb medication of all types of swollen or irritating skin conditions.

Parts used

Root, leaves, seeds.


Yellow dock's laxative properties make it an important herbal medication for minor cases of constipation. The laxative action of yellow dock increases when one enhances the fiber content in his diet. Anthraquinones in yellow dock invigorates the colon as a result of which feces are thrown out more effectively lowering the possibility of re-absorption of toxins into the system. In addition, yellow dock is considered to be helpful in enhancing bile secretion that again helps in the detoxification process. It may be mentioned here that this is possible because all waste products inside the system are eliminated through the bile ducts.

Normally, when yellow dock is blended with other cleansing herbs like burdock and dandelion, the herb is useful in healing a wide range of ailments by significantly reducing the toxic contents in the body. In fact, most of the ailments and disorders have their genesis in the toxics accumulated in the system and so when these noxious substances are removed it becomes easier to heal conditions like acne, boils, eczema and psoriasis as well as fungal infections. In addition, use of yellow dock decoction or tincture is also helpful in alleviating poor and slow digestion, constipation, arthritic as well as rheumatic troubles, particularly osteoarthritis.

Habitat and cultivation

Although yellow dock is indigenous to Europe and Africa, the herb is frequently found in other parts of the world, too. Normally, yellow dock grows and flourishes on odd places like abandoned lands, along the roads and even in ditches and trenches. The root of yellow dock is burrowed out during the autumn, chopped up and dehydrated for storing.


Not much research work has been done so far to explore the medicinal properties of the yellow dock. But still, people are well aware of the herb's laxative (a substance that promotes bowel movements), and cleansing functions. It has been established that the yellow dock's laxative and cleansing properties are primarily owing to the presence of a substance called the anthraquinones. This ingredient of yellow dock is beneficial as a laxative and when used in high doses acts as a purgative. The action of anthraquinones is similar to that of Chinese rhubarb, but comparatively much more placid. Since ages, the leaves of yellow dock have been used as a spring tonic, but researches have shown that the herb contains large proportions of oxalates that may cause kidney stones and gout if consumed in huge doses. However, it has been found that the content of oxalates in yellow dock root is safe for use.


Leaves: chlorophyll, vitamins A and C, oxalic acid.
Roots: tannins, chrysophanic acid, rumicin, minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus), tonic, bitter principle.

Usual dosage

The root of yellow dock herb can be used both as a decoction (an extraction by boiling of water-soluble drug substances) and as tincture. To heal constipation, take 100 ml or 4 fl oz of the decoction for brief periods. On the other hand, to heal skin problems, combine the yellow dock decoction with marigold and cleavers. Use 100 ml or 4 fl oz of the mixture of the three herbs daily. Alternatively, 2.5 ml or 50 drops of the yellow dock tincture may be taken thrice daily to get rid of the above-mentioned problems.

How it works in the body

As mentioned earlier, the presence of anthraquinones in yellow dock enables the herb to function as a laxative. In fact, yellow dock is mainly prescribed by herbal medicine practitioners for its laxative and cleansing properties. The anthraquinones invigorate the colon which in the process helps to throw out the waste and toxins from the body. It may be noted here that any substance that has laxative property also helps in cleansing the system when taken in small proportions. However, when they are taken in large doses they act as purgatives leading to peristalsis (causing a rippling motion of muscles in the intestine) and gripping pain. Nevertheless, when yellow dock is taken in the right doses, it acts gently and helps to alleviate constipation. In addition, the yellow dock is also beneficial for the digestive system. When mixed with other herbs, yellow dock is also useful in assisting the liver, removing toxins from the skin as well as healing ailments like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Yellow dock also acts as a cleansing agent in the musculoskeletal system where there is regular accumulation of toxins owing to constipation.


Leaves of yellow dock make an effective poultice for contagious skin disorders like acne, sores and eczema. However, in order to make the poultice, one needs to steam the soft leaves of the herb and place them directly on the affected area. The new leaves of the herb can also be consumed raw in the form of a salad using a maximum of three leaves in each serving, or drunk as a decoction after boiling them in water. It may be taken for many days at a stretch to cleanse the liver as well as the blood circulation system.

The root of yellow dock has a special action on the lower portion of the digestive system as well as the intestines and assists in regulating these organs. For an effective laxative action, 15 grams of the yellow dock root may be added to one cup or 250 ml of water and consumed. If yellow dock is to be taken as an astringent (an agent that contracts or shrinks tissues), add five grams of the root extract in one cup or 250 ml of water and drink the solution. If a mother tincture is prepared with the root and seeds of yellow dock by adding 15 grams of the herb in one cup or 250 ml of water and consumed on a regular basis, it is helpful in fighting anemia, reinvigorating the nervous system as well as increasing fertility, particularly in women.

Navajo syrup

  • 4 cups (1 liter) water
  • 2 lb (300 g) fresh yellow dock roots
  • 2 cups (500 g) wildflower honey

Slowly boil the roots until half the water has evaporated. Strain and melt the honey in the liquid, heating slowly. Keep this syrup cool: it's ideal in the fall for treating respiratory ailments. Take 1 t (5 ml), 3 times daily, as a pectoral, cholagogue and laxative syrup.


From Creekside Acre Herbal
Add burdock, marshmallow, red clover, mullein, and molasses to the Navajo syrup recipe and you have an incredible syrup for COPD.
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