Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus) - Herbal Medicine

Kurrajong Natural Medicine Centre offers Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Western herbal medicine and Remedial therapies to the communities of Kurrajong, Richmond, North Richmond, Glossodia, Kurmond, and the greater Hawkesbury area.

Yellow Dock: A Useful Herb in Herbal Medicine



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Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus)

Yellow Dock is a member of the Polygonaceae family and is sometimes referred to by other names including: Curled Dock, Curly Dock, Sour Dock, Narrow Dock, Garden Patience, Rumex.

Yellow dock has a long history of use in herbal medicine, where is primary action are considered to be as an alterative. Alterative herbs have nonspecific effects on the gastro-intestinal tract and the hepatic system. Thus, they are thought to treat skin conditions that are attributed to toxic metabolites from mal-digestion and poor liver function.

The parts of the plant that are used in traditional herbal medicine is primarily the roots and young leaves, occasionally the seeds are used to treat diarrhoea. Yellow Dock is native to Eurasia, widely distributed in temperate and subtropical countries as a weed. It grows in any rich, heavy soil in weedy places such as roadsides, ditches to 1500 m altitude. Yellow Dock is easy to cultivate.

Its roots are 20-30 cm in length and the stem is approximately 1.5 cm thick. Externally Yellow Dock is a rusty brown. Internally it is whitish, with fine, straight, medullary rays and a rather thick bark. It's growth habit originates from a deep spindle-shaped root, from which arises an erect, angular, and furrowed stem, attaining a height of from 50-100 cm. The stem is branched near the top and is leafy, bearing numerous, long, dense clusters formed by drooping groups of inconspicuous, green flowers arranged in circles around the stem. The leaves have undulate edges, are lanceolate, large and have a crispy texture. The flowers are greenish, small, arranged in whorls along a somewhat branched in-florescence, appearing in mid-summer to mid-autumn.

The active principles in Yellow Dock include: Oxymethylanthraqinone, Anthraquinone glycosides, including nepodin, emodin, cyhrysophanic acid, volatie oil, resin, tannins, rumicin, starch, and thiamine. It therefore has a combined action as both astringent and purgative and acts as a tonic laxative on the gastro-intestinal tract.

Yellow Dock is used extensively in the treatment of chronic skin complaints such as psoriasis and is thus often used in Herbal Skin Care Products. The anthraquinones present have a markedly cathartic action on the bowel, but in this herb they act in a mild way, reducing the cramping pain often associated with other laxatives. It is useful for constipation, working as it does in a much wider way than simply stimulating the gut muscles. It promotes the flow of bile and has that somewhat obscure action of being a blood cleanser. The action on the gall-bladder gives it a role in the treatment of jaundice when this is due to hepatic congestion.

According to Mrs. Grieve (1977), Yellow Dock is applicable to all the purposes for which the other species are used. The root has laxative, alterative and mildly tonic action, and can be freely used as a tonic and laxative in rheumatism, bilious complaints and as an astringent in piles, bleedings of the lungs, etc. It is largely prescribed for diseases of the blood, from a spring eruption, to scurvy, scrofula and chronic skin diseases. It is also useful in jaundice and as a tonic to the stomach and the system generally. It has an action on the bowels very similar to that of Rhubarb, being perhaps a little less active, but operating without pain or uneasiness.

To treat chronic skin diseases a combination of Yellow Dock, Burdock and Echinacea is ideal to achieve good results.

The information provided here is not for the purpose of self diagnosis or self treatment. It is provided for the sole purpose of providing general information about herbs used in herbal medicine. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.

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