Wild leafy plant yellow dock (Rumex crispus) is found growing throughout the world and belongs to the buckwheat or Polygonaceae family. This flowering perennial is characterized by the narrow leaves that curl along the edges, which is why it is also called curled dock, narrow dock, narrow-leafed dock and garden patience.
The name of the plant is associated with the yellow colour of the herb’s fleshy root, which shows when it is slightly scraped. Yellow dock usually blooms from June to July producing pale green drooping flowers and then three-angled heart-shaped nut. The high and branched stem usually not reaches higher than 1 meter so the plant is considered to be relatively small.
Typical habitat of yellow dock includes pastures, fields, roadsides and waste lands. It grows freely in most types of climatic conditions without particular preferences, although the plant is mostly spread in Northern Africa, temperate Asia, Europe and throughout the USA.
The root of yellow dock is the major source of its medicinal properties. However, its sour-sweet leaves are not only added to salads, but also found as an ingredient in herbal remedies. Seeds are rarely claimed to have medicinal uses.
Used as a powder, yellow dock is a topical application for sores and rashes. Teas, pills, syrups and tinctures are used for inflammation and wide range of other health conditions.
The major chemicals in yellow dock are tannins, oxalates, anthraquinone glycosides (about 3-4%), includingnepodin, and others based on chrysophanol, physcion and emodin. These constituents produce alterative, gentle purgative, mild laxative, and mild astringent tonic effects. The iron content of the yellow dock makes it powerful in treating anaemia symptoms. Chrysarobin in yellow dock is known to relieve a congested liver.
Traditional herbal medicine favors yellow dock for the variety of reasons. It acts as a potent topical application and is useful in treating psoriasis and other chronic skin conditions, itching, sores, swellings and scabby eruptions. These properties of the plant have been known since Roman times.
Later, Native Americans applied the leaves to boils, and the roots – to cuts. The herb is proven to be effective in treatment of digestive disorders, acting as tonic and laxative. Also, conditions related to a sluggish digestive system (liver dysfunction, acne, headaches, and constipation) are handled with the preparations of yellow dock. It is generally used as tonic, laxative and stomach-stimulating.
The astringent action of the plant’s seeds is sometimes described as beneficial for the treatment of dysentery. Blood diseases, bleedings of lungs, and anaemia are successfully treated with yellow dock preparations, too. The homeopathic tincture made of herb while it is in its pre-flowering stage is a good remedy for an irritable tickling cough of the upper air-tubes and the throat. It is also effective for curing gland swellings.