In traditional herbal medicine, Yellow Dock (Rumex Crispus) is considered a general health tonic, as it promotes general health and well-being. However, there are specific reasons why you should consider using yellow dock. Below, I’ve listed a few of yellow dock’s most popular uses:
- Internal cleanser
- Digestive aid
- Improving nutrient absorption
- Natural laxative
- Clears and beautifies the skin
Yellow dock is well-known for cleansing the blood and bowels, aiding the digestive tract, liver and skin. “Yellow dock root can stimulate a bowel movement to help remove lingering waste from your intestinal tract; it also increases the frequency of urination to assist in toxin elimination.”1 By maintaining an efficient digestive tract and waste elimination system we can help prevent toxin accumulation in the body, particularly the liver. Because of its effect on the digestive system, yellow dock is an excellent remedy for maldigestion.
Maldigestion is a condition characterized by digestive system malfunctions, including a diminished ability to digest foods, usually caused by abnormally low stomach acid levels. Reduced stomach acid diminishes the body’s ability to properly break down food, absorb the protein and minerals in foods, and evacuate toxic waste from the body. Yellow dock eliminates maldigestion by stimulating intestinal secretions, normalizing stomach acid levels and acting as a mild laxative. “Yellow dock also promotes the flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder, which appears to facilitate the absorption of minerals.”2 In addition, a study conducted by the Department of Chemistry at Jamia Hamdard in India demonstrated that yellow dock root possessed “potent antioxidant activity; working to scavenge for free radicals and thwart oxidative damage, including in liver tissue.”1
The herb’s cleansing and healing abilities are what allow it to clear and beautify the skin. Herbalists routinely recommend yellow dock (and other cleansing herbs) to treat skin conditions associated with poor digestion, poor liver function and/or toxicity. Skin conditions known to respond favorably to yellow dock are…
Congestive skin conditions:
- white heads
Inflammatory skin conditions:
Yellow dock’s skin benefits are why it’s become one of my all-time favorite detox herbs. My skin never looks more flawless than after a cleanse that includes this herb.
How much yellow dock is needed?
One serving of yellow dock, as an infusion, is 1 measuring teaspoon of cut and sifted herb per 8 ounces of water. You need only steep the herb for 8-10 minutes to get the full effect of the small amount used. Also, you shouldn’t drink more than 3 cups per day (more on that later).
In my opinion, it is often best to start with the lowest possible amount of any herb and then slowly increase the dosage over days or even weeks until the desired dosage is reached. It’s possible to be allergic to anything, even water; so, it’s better to err on the side of caution when trying something new, particularly medicinal substances. And if you are allergic, a smaller dose will yield a smaller allergic response. In the case of infusions, I’d recommend one cup per day max, with a shorter steep time (3-5 minutes, for example) and, if there’s no negative reaction, one cup, fully steeped, the following day. And then, after the first week, two cups of infusion at full steep and so on until you are drinking three cups a day for the rest of your cleanse.
Yellow dock interactions & warnings
Yellow dock has a mild laxative effect, due to constituents called anthraquinone glycosides. Anthraquinone glycosides appear to stimulate the release of bile and digestive enzymes, which makes yellow dock useful for cleansing the gallbladder of toxin buildup. Unfortunately, it can also cause mild diarrhea in some people.
“Yellow dock should not be used by people taking drugs that decrease blood calcium, such as diuretics, Dilantin, Miacalcin, or Mithracin.”3 Yellow dock also interacts with the heart medication Digoxin (Lanoxin) and the blood thinner Warfarin (Coumadin), due to its laxative action, which has the potential to lower potassium levels in the body. Yellow dock should also be avoided by people with kidney disease, liver disease, or an electrolyte abnormality.
“Excessive use of yellow dock can cause a blood disorder called metabolic acidosis and life-threatening calcium deficiency in the blood.”3 Signs of low blood calcium include fatigue, seizures, confusion, muscle spasms, and numbness around the mouth.
“Yellow dock is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.”4 This is also due to its laxative action. Pregnant women are always advised to avoid strong laxatives, and taking yellow dock with a mild laxative can increase the laxative’s strength. “However, other herbal experts have recommended yellow dock in pregnancy because of its iron content, although this has not been proven in clinical trials.”4
I know of only one death resulting from the use of yellow dock. The victim consumed several hundred grams of the leaves, for whatever reason. I don’t know all the details, but, obviously, that was beyond excessive. To be on the safe side, one should never use more than 1 tsp of yellow dock (leaves or root) per 8 ounces of boiling hot water, three times per day max. Also, it is not advisable to use yellow dock daily for more than 3 months at a time. You wouldn’t need to anyway. It’s an excellent blood cleansing herb and works faster than most.
Yellow dock is not just a good thing, it’s a great thing! But if you use too much yellow dock, too often, or for too long, you are likely to experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. If this occurs, I strongly recommend contacting your health care provider immediately.
1 Dr. Edward Group. “What are the Benefits of Yellow Dock Root?” Global Healing Center, December 17, 2012. Web. November 6, 2015
2 Brett, Jennifer, ND. “Yellow Dock: Herbal Remedies”. How Stuff Works – Health, n.d. Web. November 17, 2015
3 “What is Yellow Dock Root?” House of Nutrition, n.d. Web. November 8, 2015
4 “Yellow dock (Rumex crispus)”. Full Spectrum Health / Natural Standard, 2011. Web. November 16, 2015
“Yellow Dock: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings”. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, 2009. WebMD. Web. November 18, 2015