By Sarena-Rae Santos, Natural Health Blogger
What is Yellow Dock
Yellow dock, sometimes called curled dock, curly dock, or its scientific name Rumex crispus, is a perennial herb belonging to the Polygonaceae family. Yellow dock typically grows between 15 and 47 inches, but some plants are upwards of 60 inches. This plant can be identified by its bluish-green, curly/wavy leaves with a pointed tip and narrow base attached to a stem shorter than the leaf (1).
Mainstream sources often caution against yellow dock due to its small anthraquinone glycoside contents, which account for a strong laxative-like effect, but only in large doses. Many fail to mention that yellow dock has been used internally, for years, as a treatment for such skin conditions as psoriasis, eczema, acne, poison ivy, and other rashes, often in combination with other herbs (2).
Health Benefits of Yellow Dock
Yellow dock is one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in Ethiopia. Ethiopians use this herb for their day-to-day public healthcare to treat or cure diseases of humans and domestic animals (3). Some health benefits of yellow dock include:
Rich in nutrients
Our body needs nutrients to flourish. Without vital vitamins and minerals, our bodies won’t produce the energy to function properly. Yellow dock is known for its rich content of vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. It also contains small amounts of Niacin and vitamins B1 and B2 (4).
Yellow dock has several plant compounds responsible for its antioxidant properties, which help neutralize or prevent the harmful effects of free radicals in the body. The buildup of free radicals has been linked to chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease (5). One study found yellow dock has ferric-reducing antioxidant power and DPPH-free radical scavenging activity (6). Another study demonstrated yellow dock extract’s ability to inhibit carbohydrase, cancerous, and free radical damage while protecting DNA (7).
Antimicrobial & Antiparasitic Properties
An antimicrobial property is when a substance, or in this case, an herb, can kill or suppress the spread of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and fungi (8). One study demonstrated that yellow dock extract has varying antimicrobial and antiparasitic activities. This study tested yellow dock against several bacteria, fungi, and parasites and concluded yellow dock extract could protect against some microbes (fungal and bacteria) and parasites (Trypanosoma and Plasmodium). These results confirm the use of yellow dock and recognize a potential treatment for African sleeping sickness, malaria, and microbial infections (9).
May Improve Digestion
Yellow dock is a carminative herb rich in volatile oils that help the gut soothe and remove gas from the digestive tract (10). Between being a carminative herb and its bitterness, yellow dock is great for improving overall digestion. Herbalists find yellow dock root to be especially beneficial in aiding in the digestion of fats and oils, remedying sluggish elimination, and facilitating weight loss (11). Additionally, yellow dock stimulates bile flow, acting as a laxative while reducing heat in the digestive tract – no wonder it’s great for improving digestion (12).
Stimulates Liver Function & Purifies Blood
The liver is the largest internal organ, responsible for over 500 vital functions like bile production, detoxification, production and regulation of vital bodily processes, and more (13). When the liver becomes overburdened, it may become congested or result in liver disease. Yellow dock can be used for general liver problems and blood purification for skin disorders like acne and boils (12).
Kidney Cleansing Properties
The kidneys are most known for their responsibility to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body through urination to maintain a stable balance of its natural chemicals. This function is needed due to the importance of regulating the body’s salt, potassium, and acid content, all performed by the two kidneys (14).
For some people, high urinary calcium is a risk factor for developing kidney stones (15). Documents show yellow dock can dilute the urine, making it a viable option for those prone to developing kidney stones, especially calcium stones. Additionally, yellow dock has been documented to reduce and slow the growth of uterine fibroids (16).
Mainstream sources claim there isn’t enough reliable information to know if yellow dock is safe when used in greater than food amounts. They also claim taking yellow dock orally is possibly unsafe while pregnant or breastfeeding. It has laxative effects, which are not wanted during pregnancy. Also, the chemicals that cause the laxative effects can be transferred to a nursing infant through breast milk. They also caution raw or uncooked yellow dock is possibly unsafe because it can cause serious side effects, including vomiting, heart problems, breathing difficulty, and even death (17).
Contrarily trusted herbalist Richard Whelan considers yellow dock one of the safest herbs to use when the liver and bowel need stimulation. Richard Whelan doesn’t consider yellow dock harmful while pregnant or breastfeeding. However, he does mention that small amounts of the anthraquinones may be passed into the breast milk, stimulating more bowel activity in the infant. He also notes that the American Academy of Paediatrics considers Senna compatible with breastfeeding and that Senna contains far more anthraquinones than yellow dock (18).
How to Use Yellow Dock
You can find yellow dock in dried bulk, pills, powders, extracts, or tinctures. Tinctures always contain the most concentrated amount of herbs. Teas and soups are also options, especially when following Ayurvedic medicine recipes. Some great articles to check out featuring the use of yellow dock include:
- Iron: What You Need And How To Supplement
- 5 Syrups to Make For Your Winter Medicine Cabinet
- How to Heal Your Gut (Research + a Plan)
Follow the recommendations of any supplement; some of my recommendations include:
- Earthley’s Energy Plus is made with herbs rich in iron to increase energy, naturally. This tincture supports a natural energy boost, endurance throughout the day, and restful sleep at night. Unlike synthetic vitamins, our herbal iron provides natural energy from the earth in amounts that your body can properly absorb.
- Earthley’s Vaccine Detox is an herbal tincture that helps to restore wellness post-vaccination by supporting gut health. Six herbs combine to help heal leaky gut, support liver health, and boost the immune system, while chlorella powder removes heavy metals from the body. Whether you have taken a vaccine recently or in the past, had a vaccine injury, or are simply looking to detox from the toxins around you, this tincture is for you!
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.