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Yellow Dock

  • Rumex crispus L.
  • Polygonaceae
  • Buckwheat family

Common Names

herbsAmla vetasa (Sanskrit name)
herbsCurled dock
herbsCurly dock
herbsGarden patience
herbsNarrow dock
herbsSour dock

Parts Usually Used

Leaves and roots

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Yellow dock is a perennial plant; its spindle-shaped, yellow taproot sends up a smooth, rather slender stem, 1-5 feet high. Lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate in shape, the pointed light green leaves have predominantly wavy margins. The lower leaves are larger and longer-petioled than the upper. Blooming from June to July, the numerous pale green, drooping flowers are loosely whorled in panicled racemes. The fruit is a pointed, three-angled and heart-shaped nut.

Other varieties: Great water dock (R. aquaticus); Water dock (R. britannica); Blunt-leaved dock (R. abtusifolius). They all have similar medicinal qualities, but the yellow dock is the only one entitled to extensive consideration.

Where Found

Found as a troublesome weed in meadows, fields and waste places in Europe, China, the United States, and southern Canada.

Medicinal Properties

Antipyretic, astringent, cholagogue, depurative, tonic, laxative, anti-scorbutic, alterative

Biochemical Information

Chrysarobin, iron, manganese, potassium oxalate, tannin, and rumicin, iron, phosphorus, calcium, vitamins A and C

Legends, Myths and Stories

Native Americans applied yellow dock root mashed into a pulp to sores and swellings. The Blackfoot name for yellow dock is "Matoa koa ksi." "Pawia" means yellow root.

Yellow dock is literally a storehouse for organic iron. A remarkable virtue of yellow dock is that it has mild laxative properties. Inorganic iron tends to bind and constipate but the laxative properties gives an abundance of iron while relieving the tendency toward constipation.

Most commonly thought of as a troublesome weed, this herb has been used medicinally since ancient times. The young leaves were much used as a pot herb in olden times.


A bitter herb that is good for liver and colon function, skin disorders such as psoriasis, cleanses skin of freckles and age spots, eczema, and urticaria, iron deficiency, especially during pregnancy, dyspepsia, leprosy, cancer, ulcerated eyelids, syphilis, gonorrhea, swollen lymph glands, hemorrhoids, bleeding lungs, bile congestion, laxative, scrofula, diarrhea, ringworm, fungus infections, rheumatism. A blood purifier and cleanser. Tones up the entire system. Combine with sarsaparilla as a tea for chronic skin disorders. The ointment is used for itching, sores, swellings, shingles, and scabby eruptions. Native Americans applied crushed yellow dock leaves to boils and the pulverized roots to cuts. When the leaves are crushed and applied as a poultice, yellow dock offers soothing relief from burning itch.

Formulas or Dosages

Decoction: use 1 tsp. root in 1 cup boiling water, cover with a saucer, and let stand for 1/2 hour, strain and reheat. Sweeten with honey, if desired. Take hot, 1 to 2 cups a day.

Powder: for skin problems the dose is 12 grains.

Syrup: boil 1/2 lb. of crushed root in 1 pint of syrup; taken in tsp. doses 3-4 times a day.

Nutrient Content

Iron, phosphorus, calcium, vitamins A and C

How Sold

Capsules: 2capsules, swallowed with a glass of warm water. Adjust amount according to individual needs. Yellow dock tea is bitter and some people find the capsules much to their liking.


Yellow dock is high in tannin content and should be taken only every other week. As a capsule, one a day. As a decoction, 1 tsp. in a cup of water, 1-2 cups a day.

Care should be taken if emaciated.

Large doses may cause gastric disturbance; nausea, diarrhea, etc.

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