Botanical: Rumex crispus
parts used: aerial parts, leaves, roots
actions: alterative, astringent, depurative, diuretic, mild laxative, cholagogue, tonic
common names: Curly Dock, Oseille Crépue, Acedera, Yellowdock, Rumex obstusifolius, Narrow Dock, Rumex, Broad-Leaved Dock, Chukkah, Parelle Sauvage, Field Sorrel, Rumex crispus, Amalvelas, Patience Crépue, Herbe à Cochons, Romaza, Sheep Sorrel, Lengua de Vaca, Sour Dock, Curled Dock
used for: detox support, hormone balance, energy support during menstruation, digestion, blood sugar balance, immune system support, skin health, mineral support (especially iron)
It never ceases to amaze me how easy is to overlook a common weed. I never gave dock a glance before I came to know my liver was tired and overburdened. I, in no way, understood my constant fatigue and vague lack of vitality. After doing more research, I discovered this powerhouse, old school herb and my life has never been the same. I am NOT being melodramatic.
Curly dock is considered an aggressive weed in many states, and is now one of the most widely distributed plants in North America, as well as globally. It grows wild in poorly maintained soils, like wastelands and roadsides. However, curly dock can also be cultivated in a back yard or home garden, in order to take advantage of its medicinal benefits.
Curly dock was first described by the Swedish botanist and explorer Peter Kalm in 1749 and Linnaeus gave it its scientific name later. Rumex is the Latin word for docks, and “dock” itself derives from the Old English docce, which may be translated as “a dark colored plant.” On the other hand, the name of curley dock’s genus, crispus, is the Latin word for “curled, curved, or wavy.”
How to Use Yellow Dock
Looks Like Coffee, or Kawi Iyusdi (Yellow Dock) is not only a medicinal herb, but also a food. It is much like spinach, but actually contains more vitamins and minerals. Because of the long taproot, it gathers nutrients from deep underground. The leaves are a source of iron, and also have laxative properties. Juices from the stems, prepared in a decoction, can be made into an ointment with beeswax and olive oil, and used for itching, minor sores, diaper rash, and other irritations. Cherokee herbalists prescribe a warm wash made from the decoction of crushed roots for a disinfectant. Juice from the root, not prepared in any certain way, is said to be a cure for ringworm. 
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. 
Culinary Uses for Dock
I think, as our pallets have become “softer” that dock is a bit coarse for most peoples’ taste, but I tried them in the spring when the leaves are young and tender and they are quite delicious as a green and unusually delicious as a tea.
Dock, locally known as “Curly Dock” is used in the spring as a potherb. The greens, picked young, provide an interesting sour tasting cooked green that is very nutritious. It is in the Buckwheat family and grows in waste places, old fields and barnyards and generally considered a “weed”, I know that’s what I called it when it was growing where I wanted to plant green beans. I pulled so many roots that year! And not in a good way. After I realized, year later, what I’d done I was mortified. Today, this root is one that I value very highly.
Yellow Dock nourishes healthy blood in two important ways – it helps keep it clean and free of impurities, and supplies it with vital iron. In fact, Yellow Dock contains more iron than any other plant. It also contains varying amounts of phosphorus, vitamins A and C, and calcium.
Want recipes? See Gathering Curly Dock
Cosmetic Uses for Dock
To date, I have found no cosmetic use for Dock.
Using Yellow Dock for Wellness
Its antibacterial properties make it great for treating mild bacterial infections of the skin, like acne. It also has anti-fungal properties that make it perfect for treating conditions that are caused by fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot.
Properties of Yellow Dock
Rumicin is the active principle of the Yellow Dock, found in the roots. Curly dock’s anthraquinones stimulate the areas in the brain that are responsible for regulating peristalsis – the movement of the intestines – giving the herb a laxative action, which makes it beneficial for relieving constipation.
Additionally, the flavonoids contained in curly dock contain strong antioxidant ability. This helps protect cells from free radicals, thus preventing age-related diseases and relieving inflammation.
The leaves of curly dock are rich in quercetin and myricetin, both powerful flavonoids with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties. While quercetin also offer antihistaminic properties, myricetin, which is particularly abundant in curly dock, exhibit hypoglycemic and antiviral effects.
The medicinal root is one that, as I mentioned, I value very highly. Therefore, this seeming weed now now has a permanent residence at our FarmHomestead where it is given the attention it deserves.
It is commonly used for acute and chronic inflammation of the nasal passages, throat, and respiratory tract, as well as for wounds and abrasions, gum problems, and headache.
- anthraquinones (up to 4% nepodin, emodin, chrysaphanol, and physcion)
- volatile oil
- vitamins (A, B, and C)
- minerals (especially manganese, phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, and selenium)
Traditionally Dock was used for stomach and liver ailments and to purify the blood. The root is said to be an effective treatment for post-hepatitis flareups. It stimulates the flow of bile, which enhances digestion and ridding the body of toxic wastes. Such cleansing is used to treat a number of conditions marked by stagnant toxins in the body including acne, boils, eczema, psoriasis, fungal infections, sluggish digestion, constipation, arthritic and rheumatic conditions. It also holds potential as a long-term treatment for chronic disease, especially that of the gastrointestinal tract. It is very helpful for improving integrity of the walls of the small intestine.
Yellow dock root is an herb that supports health as a digestive tonic, acting specifically on the liver, gall bladder, and kidneys to improve function and cleanse. Yellow dock root assists protein and fat digestion, assimilation of A, B12, and E, and is indicated for poor iron absorption. It is effective at relieving constipation, inflammation in the colon, and jaundice when these symptoms are in direct relation to assimilation and digestive issues.
Using yellow dock root for detoxing is super easy. Here’s a great detox tea recipe…
Fortunately, while optimizing detox may sound like a daunting task, there are things we can do frequently, even daily, to support our body’s natural detox mechanisms. This tea blends one of the superstars for detox support – yellow dock root – with nutritive and adaptogenic herbs. Get the Yellow Dock Detox Tea recipe.
Short term use of decoctions internally, not only relieve constipation, but are also used for boils by mixing an equal amount of yellow dock, burdock, and red clover.
Like dandelion and burdock roots, yellow dock roots and preparations are used to improve conditions related to a sluggish digestive system, such as liver dysfunction, acne, headaches, and constipation. Because it improves absorption of nutrients, yellow dock is used to improve anemia and poor hair, fingernail, and skin quality.
Used along with other herbs, it is an antibacterial adjuvant.
Dose: 1 teaspoon of dried root in 8 ounces water, decoct for 10-15 minutes, let steep 30 minutes, take 4 ounces 2-3x/day; 1-2 mL of a 1:5 tincture 3x/day
- Despite its gentle laxative effect, yellow dock has not been found to stimulate the pregnant uterus. 
- When eating dock weed, make sure that you eat it in moderation. Too much of it can lead to urinary tract issues and could potentially cause kidney stones. It contains high amounts of oxalic acid.
Video! Yellow dock is so beautiful in the fall landscape. Learn all about it’s medicinal benefits from Brigitte Mars, David Winston and Matthew Wood.
It is especially beneficial for skin conditions.
Clinical Research on Dock
- Maksimovic Z, Kovacevic N, Lakusic B, Cebovic T. Antioxidant activity of yellow dock (Rumex crispus L., Polygonaceae) fruit extract. Phytother Res. 2011 Jan;25(1):101-5. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3234.
- Lone IA, Kaur G, Athar M, Alam MS. Protective effect of Rumex patientia (English Spinach) roots on ferric nitrilotriacetate (Fe-NTA) induced hepatic oxidative stress and tumor promotion response. Food Chem Toxicol. 2007 Oct;45(10):1821-9. Epub 2007 Apr 19.
- Yildirim A, Mavi A, Kara AA. Determination of antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of Rumex crispus L. extracts. J Agric Food Chem. 2001 Aug;49(8):4083-9.
- Ghosh L, Gayen JR, Sinha S, Pal S, Pal M, Saha BP. Antibacterial efficacy of Rumex nepalensis Spreng. roots. Phytother Res. 2003 May;17(5):558-9.
- Getie M, Gebre-Mariam T, Rietz R, Höhne C, Huschka C, Schmidtke M, Abate A, Neubert RH. Evaluation of the anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory activities of the medicinal plants Dodonaea viscosa, Rumex nervosus and Rumex abyssinicus. Fitoterapia. 2003 Feb;74(1-2):139-43.
- Süleyman H, Demirezer LO, Kuruüzüm A, Banoglu ZN, Göçer F, Ozbakir G, Gepdiremen A. Antiinflammatory effect of the aqueous extract from Rumex patientia L. roots. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 May;65(2):141-8.
- Süleyman H, Demírezer LO, Kuruüzüm-Uz A. Analgesic and antipyretic activities of Rumex patientia extract on mice and rabbits. Pharmazie. 2001 Oct;56(10):815-7.
- Giday M, Asfaw Z, Woldu Z. Medicinal plants of the Meinit ethnic group of Ethiopia: an ethnobotanical study. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jul 30;124(3):513-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2009.05.009. Epub 2009 May 18.
- Cherokee Medicinal Herbs. http://www.cherokee.org/AboutTheNation/Culture/General/CherokeeMedicinalHerbs.aspx. Accessed February 09, 2015.
- Yellow Dock. https://www.gaiaherbs.com/blogs/herbs/yellow-dock Accessed April 14, 2018.
- Blood Cleansing Herbs and Supplements | Barron Report. https://jonbarron.org/blood-cleansing/cleansing-your-blood. Updated April 17, 2013
- Romm, A. (2010). Botanical medicine for women’s health. Churchill Livingstone; 2 edition (April 12, 2017)