Yellow dock is popping up in Denver! I’m absolutely ecstatic to see that spring is on its way. It will likely snow several more times before the end of May, but fruit trees are budding (some even blooming), and the greens of dandelion, yarrow, plantain, and of course yellow dock, are beginning to really show themselves.
I definitely prefer warmer weather, coming more and more alive as the plants yawn and stretch, and finally show themselves. There’s nothing quite like taking a walk that you take every day and seeing old friends suddenly reappear. Rumex crispus means “curly sorrel,” and while we use the root medicinally, the leaves are definitely edible. In fact, they make a great pesto! Yellow dock is a great digestive herb to consider as we move toward spring cleaning.
Rumex crispus – yellow dock.
Family: Polygonaceae (with rhubarb, japanese knotweed, and buckwheat)
Parts Used: Root
Ideal Preparation: DRY root tincture, High iron syrup
Ecological Status: A wild and abundant weed!
Dosage: 30-60 drops before meals (tincture)
Specific Indications & Therapeutic Use:
1. Skin issues (pair with Burdock)
This amazing weed is considered an alterative – meaning it alters the quality of, or “cleanses” the blood. Its bitter action also stimulates digestive secretions, and is in turn helpful in cleansing the liver. For those reasons, yellow dock is ideally suited for chronic or sluggish skin disorders, including eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
2. Constipation (a non-stimulant)
By stimulating digestive secretions – particularly the secretion of bile – yellow dock stimulates better peristaltic activity. Peristalsis is a series of wave-like muscle contractions that moves food to different processing stations in the digestive tract. Yellow dock can be used safely on a regular basis for constipation, because it encourages the whole digestive system to work more effectively, rather than irritating tissues in a stimulant fashion.
3. Improved digestion of fats
Yellow dock is helpful here for the same reason. When the gall bladder secretes bile effectively, fats are digested more efficiently. This is relevant for those who experience poor digestion of fatty foods; particularly meat and dairy products. (No gall bladder? Check out dandelion!)
4. Iron deficiency/ anemia
Some people are deficient in iron because they don’t get enough, while others simply fail to release and absorb it properly. Yellow dock doesn’t actually contain a lot of iron, but increases uptake of dietary iron and helps release iron from storage in the liver and small intestine. High Iron Syrup to the rescue (see recipe below)!
Safety Issues & Contraindications:
High doses can have a laxative effect. Also note that the root MUST BE DRY – if it is not completely dried before being tinctured or made into syrup, it WILL have a laxative effect (even at normal dosage).
Yellow Dock High-Iron Syrup
Water (4x volume of the below herb mixture)
3 parts yellow dock
2 parts dandelion root
2 parts nettles
2 parts alfalfa
1 part hawthorn berry (or rosehips)- either is fine, goal is high vitamin C content
Decoct (simmer) yellow dock, dandelion root & hawthorn berries in water for 20 minutes with lid on.
1. Strain out herbs and simmer over low heat, uncovered until decoction total is about half of original volume.
2. Turn off the heat, add nettles & alfalfa. Let steep for 1 hour.
3. Strain and add 1-2 cups of blackstrap molasses for every 2 cups of tea.
4. Warm until well blended.
5. Bottle, label, refrigerate, and use! Dosage is 4-6 tablespoons 1-2x daily for an adult. Dosage for children is 1 teaspoon 1-2x daily in water, diluted juice or directly in the mouth. Yum!
What’s your favorite thing about spring? Comment below about your favorite springtime plant allies!