Yellow dock is an herb. The leaf stalks are used in salads. The root and fruits are used as medicine.
Yellow dock is used for pain and swelling (inflammation) of nasal passages and the respiratory tract, and as a laxative and tonic. It is also used to treat bacterial infections and sexually transmitted diseases. Yellow dock is also sometimes used to treat intestinal infections, fungal infections, and for arthritis.
Some people use yellow dock as a toothpaste. It is also applied to the skin to stop bleeding and for hemorrhoids.
Many different kinds of “Dock” exist and though some have similar properties, identification of the proper material is important. This particular plant has narrow leaves (Rumex translated from the Latin means Lanced) , which are usually curly (crispus) at the edges, vary in size and are not found in great numbers higher up the stem of the plant. The flowers become a green seed that turns a deep red color in the fall, traditionally marking the proper harvest time for the root. The plant is native to Europe and Western Asia but has naturalized itself widely in North America where it grows almost anywhere it can. Native American use of this plant was extensive. The Dakota used the bruised fresh green leaves as a poultice for infected wounds. The Blackfoot, Cheyenne and Dakota tribes used the fresh root pulp topically for rheumatic pains. The Iroquois also applied this mash to piles, and as a poultice in yellow fever. The Cherokee, as well as the tribes mentioned above, used the root internally for constipation, and to inspire the body to cleanse the blood. The Navajo used the whole plant as an emetic before ceremony to clear and cleanse the system in order to prepare the body for healing and spiritual ritual.
The Health Benefits of Yellow Dock
Yellow dock is a plant native to Europe and Asia. Also called “curled dock” or “Rumex Crispus,” it is cultivated as a vegetable in Europe and grows throughout North America as a common weed.
Yellow dock leaves are harvested in spring and may be used in salads or other dishes though the taste is somewhat sour. The part used medicinally is the bitter root, though the leaves can also have a mild laxative effect.
In traditional herbal medicine, yellow dock is thought to be a general health tonic and helps to maintain proper digestive health.1
Yellow dock is thought to benefit the digestive tract, liver, and skin and to treat inflamed nasal passages. One of its primary uses by herbalists is for skin conditions associated with poor digestion, poor liver function or “toxicity.” It is also thought to be helpful for rheumatism and disorders such as scurvy and scrofula.
Yellow dock has a mild laxative effect, due to constituents called anthraquinone glycosides.4 It appears to stimulate the release of bile and digestive enzymes. However, there is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of yellow dock for any of these health benefits.
Due to a lack of research, little is known about the side effects of using yellow dock.
Yellow dock contains oxalic acid,5 which irritates the bowels and may cause mild diarrhea in some people. Call your health practitioner if you experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Overuse can cause laxative dependence.
Yellow dock should not be used by people taking drugs that decrease blood calcium, such as diuretics, Dilantin, Miacalcin, or Mithracin.
Yellow dock should not be used by people with kidney disease,6 liver disease,7 or an electrolyte abnormality.8
Excessive use of yellow dock can cause a blood disorder called metabolic acidosis and life-threatening calcium deficiency in the blood. Call your health practitioner if you experience signs of low blood calcium, such as fatigue, seizures, confusion, muscle spasms, and numbness around the mouth.