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Yellow Dock

Scientific Name(s): Rumex crispus L.
Common Name(s): Curled dock, Curly dock, Narrow dock, Rumex, Sour dock, Yellow dock

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 2, 2019.

Clinical Overview

Use

The roots of yellow dock exert a laxative effect; however, research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of yellow dock to treat any condition.

Dosing

There is no clinical evidence to support specific dosage recommendations for yellow dock, and caution is warranted because of its oxalate and tannin content. 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.

Contraindications

Due to its oxalate and tannin content, yellow dock products should not be consumed in patients with endometriosis, hemorrhoids, intestinal obstruction, abdominal pain of unknown origin, or nephropathy.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Avoid use. Adverse effects have been documented; contains anthraquinones.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

The oxalate content of the leaves may result in GI symptoms or kidney damage. Consumption of the uncooked leaves as a wild vegetable should be avoided. Consumption of large amounts of the root may cause diarrhea, nausea, and polyuria.

Toxicology

Information is limited.

Scientific Family

  • Polygonaceae (buckwheat)

Botany

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

History

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

Chemistry

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

Antimicrobial

Animal data

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

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data for yellow dock as an antimicrobial agent.

Antioxidant/Cytotoxic

Animal data

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

Clinical data

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.

Other uses

Results from an in vitro and in vivo trial suggest that nepodin has an antidiabetic effect.Ha 2014

Dosing

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

Avoid use. Adverse effects have been documented; contains anthraquinones.Duke 2002, Newall 1996

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Yellow dock has been identified as an allergen.Kwaasi 1998, Mueller 2000

Toxicology

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

References

Başkan S, Daut-Ozdemir A, Günaydin K, Erim FB. Analysis of anthraquinones in Rumex crispus by micellar electrokinetic chromatography. Talanta. 2007;71(2):747-750.19071368
Duke J. Handbook of Biologically Active Phytochemicals and Their Activities. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press Inc; 1992. http://www.ars-grin.gov/duke/. Accessed July 31, 2016.
Duke J, Bogenschutz-Godwin M, duCellier J, Duke P. Handbook of medicinal herbs. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2002.
Fan JP, Zhang ZL. Studies on the chemical constituents of Rumex crispus. Zhong Yao Cai. 2009;32(12):1836-1840.20432897
Günaydin K, Topçu G, Ion RM. 1,5-dihydroxyanthraquinones and an anthrone from roots of Rumex crispus. Nat Prod Lett. 2002;16(1):65-70.11942685
Ha BG, Yonezawa T, Son MJ, et al. Antidiabetic effect of nepodin, a component of Rumex roots, and its modes of action in vitro and in vivo. Biofactors. 2014;40(4):436-447.
Kwaasi AA, Parhar RS, al-Mohanna FA, Harfi HA, Collison KS, al-Sedairy ST. Aeroallergens and viable microbes in sandstorm dust. Potential triggers of allergic and nonallergic respiratory ailments. Allergy. 1998;53(3):255-265.9542605
Lans C, Turner N, Khan T, Brauer G. Ethnoveterinary medicines used to treat endoparasites and stomach problems in pigs and pets in British Columbia, Canada. Vet Parasitol. 2007;148(3-4):325-340.17628343
Lee KH, Rhee KH. Antimalarial activity of nepodin isolated from Rumex crispus. Arch Pharm Res. 2013;36(4):430-435.23440579
Maksimović Z, Kovacević N, Lakusić B, Cebović T. Antioxidant activity of yellow dock (Rumex crispus L., Polygonaceae) fruit extract. Phytother Res. 2011;25(1):101-105.
Meyer JE. The Herbalist. Hammond, IN: Hammond Book Co; 1934.
Mueller RS, Bettenay SV, Tideman L. Aero-allergens in canine atopic dermatitis in southeastern Australia based on 1000 intradermal skin tests. Aust Vet J. 2000;78(6):392-399.
Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996.
Orbán-Gyapai O, Lajter I, Hohmann J, Jakab G, Vasas A. Xanthine oxidase inhibitory activity of extracts prepared from Polygonaceae species. Phytother Res. 2015;29(3):459-465.25510560
Rumex crispus L. USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, July 2016). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901. Accessed July 2016.
Shiwani S, Singh NK, Wang MH. Carbohydrase inhibition and anti-cancerous and free radical scavenging properties along with DNA and protein protection ability of methanolic root extracts of Rumex crispus. Nutr Res Pract. 2012;6(5):389-395.23198017
Suh HJ, Lee KS, Kim SR, Shin MH, Park S, Park S. Determination of singlet oxygen quenching and protection of biological systems by various extracts from seed of Rumex crispus L. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2011;102(2):102-107.21185197
Tyler VE. The Honest Herbal. Philadelphia, PA: G.F. Stickley Co; 1981.
Wegiera M, Smolarz HD, Bogucka-Kocka A. Rumex L. species induce apoptosis in 1301, EOL-1 and H-9 cell lines. Acta Pol Pharm. 2012;69(3):487-499.22594263
Wianowska D. Hydrolytical instability of hydroxyanthraquinone glycosides in pressurized liquid extraction. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2014;406(13):3219-3227.24652155
Yildirim A, Mavi A, Kara AA. Determination of antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of Rumex crispus L. extracts. J Agric Food Chem. 2001;49(8):4083-4089.11513714

Disclaimer

This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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