Scientific Name(s): Rumex crispus L.
Common Name(s): Curled dock, Curly dock, Narrow dock, Rumex, Sour dock, Yellow dock
Yellow dock is a perennial herb native to Europe but found throughout the United States. The plant grows 1 to 2 m in height and has narrow, slender, light green leaves with undulated or curled edges (hence the common name "curly dock"). The flowers, which bloom in June and July, are borne in clusters on the branched stems, with shiny brown seeds encased within the calyx. The deep, spindle-shaped, yellow roots and rhizomes are used medicinally, while the leaves are harvested as a wild vegetable.Meyer 1934, USDA 2016
The leaf stalks of the plant, which are harvested in the spring and used as a potherb in salads, can be disagreeable to some because of their tart, sour-sweet taste. Due to its astringent properties, the plant has been used, generally unsuccessfully, in the treatment of venereal diseases and skin conditions. The powdered root has been used as a natural dentifrice. Larger amounts have been given as a laxative and tonic, and for other indications, including cancer. Ethnoveterinary uses have been documented.Duke 2002, Lans 2007
The plant contains oxalate, likely in the form of potassium oxalate crystals. Anthraquinones (eg, aglycones emodin, chrysophanic acid, physcion) have been identified, Duke 1992, Wianowska 2014 and the total anthraquinone content of the root (approximately 2%) exceeds that of medicinal rhubarb (Rheum rhaponticum; 1.4%), another member of the Polygonaceae family.Tyler 1981 Large amounts of tannin exist in the roots; the vitamin, mineral, and fat content of the plant has also been described.Başkan 2007, Duke 1992, Fan 2009, Günaydin 2002
Uses and Pharmacology
A study evaluating the antimalarial activity of nepodin, a compound extracted from R. crispus, demonstrated activity against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro and reduced parasitemia in mice.Lee 2013 Ether and ethanol extracts of the plant, but not water extracts, demonstrated antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus subtilis.Yildirim 2001
Research reveals no clinical data for yellow dock as an antimicrobial agent.
Antioxidant activity of ethanol and methanol extracts of R. crispus fruit, seeds, and roots has been demonstrated.Maksimović 2011, Orbán-Gyapai 2015, Shiwani 2012, Suh 2011, Yildirim 2001 In vitro screening of ethanol extracts of the root, leaves, and seeds showed cytotoxic activity against human leukemia cells.Wegiera 2012
Despite being included in multi-ingredient preparations for use in cancer, research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of yellow dock for this indication.
Results from an in vitro and in vivo trial suggest that nepodin has an antidiabetic effect.Ha 2014
There is no clinical evidence to support specific dosage recommendations for yellow dock, and caution is warranted because of its oxalate and tannin content. Consumption of the uncooked leaves as a wild vegetable should be avoided.
Dosages traditionally used include 2 to 4 tablespoons of the fresh root, or 2 to 4 g of the dry root in a tea 3 times a day for no longer than 8 to 10 days.Duke 2002
Pregnancy / Lactation
None well documented.
Information is limited; however, cytotoxic effects against human T cells has been observed in vitro.Wegiera 2012 Due to its oxalate and tannin content, yellow dock is contraindicated in patients with endometriosis, hemorrhoids, intestinal obstruction, abdominal pain of unknown origin, or nephropathy.Duke 2002
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