What is Yellow Dock?

Elva K.
Elva K.
Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Yellow dock plant is an herb also known by the botanical name rumex crispus. As a member of the buckwheat family of plants, it grows in various locations such as fields, alongside roads, in waste land, beside docks, or sometimes even near sand dunes. With its brownish green leaves, the plant grows from June until October and can grow three feet (about 1 m) in height. Typically found in Europe, North America, and Asia, this herb is used to treat various types of health problems.

For example, yellow dock has been shown to treat health problems such as digestive problems, stomach acid deficiency, bacterial infections, constipation, and nutrient absorption problems. It also treats liver problems and toxicity in the body. Because it treats various problems in the body, this plant is known as one of the overall general health tonics.

The medicinal parts are predominantly in the leaves and roots of the plant. Seeds of this plant have been sometimes used as coffee grounds. The seeds, which become ripe between July and October, are inside of the calyx part of the flower. The flowers of the plant are not typically used.

Consumers can purchase yellow dock in the form of a tincture, a tea, dried powder form, or capsule form. Sometimes this herb is often added to soup. Also, yellow dock leaves are sometimes used to prepare a salad and are consumed for the purpose of increasing iron and minerals in one's diet.

The active chemicals in this plant are oxalate, tannin, nepodin, chrysophanol, emodin, physcion, and oxalic acid. There are also anthraquinone glycosides in the plant which cause the release of digestive enzymes and bile. The release of digestive enzymes and bile results in laxative effects.

Sometimes, this laxative effect can be dangerous if it goes beyond the usual and results in extreme nausea, pain in the abdomen, or vomiting. Thus, although many people use this herb without incident, this herb can be dangerous for some. For instance, yellow dock typically is not recommended for pregnant women, nursing women, or people who take diuretics. This plant is also not recommended for people with kidney problems, electrolyte problems, or liver problems. Of note, this plant could also sometimes cause metabolic acidosis or lack of calcium in the blood which could be a potentially fatal condition.

Contact a physician if you experience any negative symptoms. Although side effects do occur in some people, for the majority of people taking yellow dock, there are reportedly no negative symptoms. That is why this herb continues to be used worldwide.

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