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Dock, Yellow

Rumex crispus L. Yellow dock, Curled dock

Family: Polygonaceae
Description: “Variable, erect perennial with a stout rootstock and lanceolate leaves, up to 30cm long. Inconspicuous green flowers appear in summer, followed by tiny, woody fruits. H 30-150cm, S45-90cm. Fully hardy” (Bown, 1995: 194).
Habitat: Roadsides, ditches and wasteplaces throughout Europe and Africa.
Harvest: “Roots are lifted in autumn and dried…” (Bown, 1995: 345)

Part used: Root
Dosage: 1:5 Tincture (45%): 1-4ml tds, Fluid Extract: 2ml tds, Dried: 2-4g tds

Character: Bitter, cool (Mills, 1993: 444)

-CHOLAGOGUE [promotes bile flow into intestine, especially as result of contracting gallbladder],
-astringent (Mills, 1993)

-“skin disease, or arthritic or other toxic degenerative disease, [with] suggestion that liver and bowel dysfunction indicated…” (Mills, 1993: 444)
-Eczema, psoriasis, urticaria (with Taraxacum); prurigo
-Simple deficiency anaemia
-Itching haemorrhoids (Priest and Priest, 1983)
-Spastic constipation (GT)
-Jaundice (Wren, 1988)

External usage: Wound dressing and mouthwash, especially for slow healing ulcers (Mills, 1993).

Safety: Large doses should be avoided due to oxalate content (Wren, 1988).

Contra-indications: ‘Cold’ symptoms, such as depressed circulation or metabolic rate, pallor, copious urination, and chronic respiratory congestion, arthritis and other symptoms linked to ‘cold-damp’ (Mills, 1991).

Key Constituents (Wren, 1988):
-Anthraquinone glycosides, 3-4%, incl. nepodin, and others based on chrysophanol, physcion and emodin
-Misc.: tannins, rumicin, oxalates

Pharmacology: No studies found.

History: Used by Romans for skin complaints. Gerard said it ‘purifieth the blood and makes young wenches look fair and cherry-like’ [!] (Robbins, 1996)

Traditional and Practitioner sources:
“The roots boiled in vinegar help the itch, scabs and breaking out of the skin, if it be bathed therewith” Culpeper, 1653 (1995: 90)

“…well indicated for low sprits with much irritability and a disinclination for mental effort; also for morning headache with a particularly dull pain on the right side, in the occiput and forehead” William Smith (1977: 167).

Bel Charlesworth Medical Herbalist

Bel Charlesworth MNIMH
Medical Herbalist

BSc Herbal Medicine

Member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists since 2003

Tel: 07775 920079

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