Common name: Yellow dock
Latin name: Rumex crispus
Affinities: Digestive system, immune system, nervous system
Actions: Alterative, bowel tonic, purgative, cholagogue, cathartic
Specific indications: Hot inflamed bowel or skin, constipation or diarrhoea, poor complexion with acne or boils
Diseases: Psoriasis(3), jaundice(3), colitis(3), Crohn’s disease(3), hepatitis B(3), acne(3)
Parts used: Root
Energetics: Cooling, drying
Characteristics: Yellow dock is a common weed native to Europe, and found abundantly growing in waste places, among rubbish, and in cultivated grounds (Felter, 1922).
History: Yellow dock is an old world medicinal plant introduced to the U.S.A from Europe (Wood, 2011; Felter, 1922). Nicholas Culpepper, an English 18th century herbalist, used yellow dock and other related docks, and wrote in his book, ‘Culpeper’s complete herbal’, ‘All docks are under Jupiter, of which the red dock, which is commonly called blood-wort, cleanseth the blood, and strengthens the liver; but the yellow dock-root is best to be taken when either the blood or liver is affected by choler. All of them have a kind of cooling (but not all alike) drying quality’ (Culpeper, 1814).
A few hundred years later, yellow dock is also written about in an American 20th century Eclectic text by Harvey Felter entitled, ‘The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics’, its specific indications in this text include; ‘chronic skin disorders, nervous dyspepsia, and epigastric fullness and pain extending into the chest’ (Felter, 1922). Felter further wrote, ‘Rumex is decidedly alterative and might be used more extensively for that purpose’.
Current applications: David Hoffman in Holistic Herbal mentions yellow dock is used extensively in chronic skin complaints such as psoriasis (Hoffman, 1988). He also mentions it is a valuable remedy for constipation, that it promotes the flow of bile, and relives congestion in the gall-bladder for jaundice. He writes that it combines well with dandelion, burdock, and cleavers. Maria Groves says it tones the colon, effectively treating both diarrhoea and constipation (Groves, 2016). Matthew Wood recommends yellow dock for inflammation or heat in the small intestine or colon and therefore Crohn’s disease or colitis (Wood, 2011). He mentions it may remove excess acid in the stomach, has a strengthening effect on the GI tract, is effective against skin diseases like boils, and also hepatitis B.
Safety: High, yellow dock is generally considered one of the safest herbs to use when the liver and bowel need some stimulation. Avoid use in pregnant and breast-feeding women.
Dosage: 1-3 drops, 3 times daily (Wood, 2011). An alternative dose range is 5-20 drops 2-3 times daily.
Culpeper, Nicholas. “Culpeper’s complete herbal.” (1814).
Groves, Maria. Body into Balance. Storey Publishing, 2016.
Felter, Harvey. The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922.
Hoffman, David. Holistic herbal. Element Books, 1988.
Wood, Matthew. The Earthwise Herbal, Volume I: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. North Atlantic Books, 2011.