The benefits of yellow dock root (Rumex crispus) have been understood for centuries. A perennial plant that is native to Europe and Western Asia, which later spread to North America and is now considered a common weed, yellow dock is best known for its use as a general detoxifier and in treating digestive problems.
How Yellow Dock Root Aids Digestion, Reduces Oxidative Damage, and More
One of the ways in which yellow dock root treats digestive problems is by its stimulation of bile acid production. Bile acids are particularly useful in helping to break down fats in the liver; they act in the same way that dish detergent breaks down grease on your dishes, making large fat globules smaller. Yellow dock contains chemicals called anthraquinone glycosides that have a laxative effect, stimulating bowel movements and increasing urination, two ways in which the body eliminates waste and toxins. It reduces bowel irritation and inflammation, which is useful for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Yellow dock is high in antioxidants, the phytochemicals that help fight the oxidative damage caused to our cells by free radicals. It is used to help treat cases of heartburn, indigestion and low stomach acid, which is a condition that makes digestion difficult. It also promotes the absorption of nutrients, so is commonly used to treat problems of the hair, nails and skin, and its high iron content and ability to facilitate iron absorption helps to treat cases of anemia. Yellow dock also contains vitamins and minerals, including phosphorus, calcium, and vitamins A and C.
If you have a cold, consider brewing up a big pot of yellow dock tea, as it has expectorant properties and reduces inflammation of the nasal passages and respiratory system in general, bringing relief from congestion. Because it is anti-inflammatory, it can help in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties and is an excellent treatment for skin problems such as rashes, dermatitis and psoriasis. Women who suffer from fibroids, urinary and yeast infections may find relief by taking yellow dock.
How to Use Yellow Dock Root
It is considered one of the "bitter herbs," along with dandelion and burdock, which are all used for helping to cleanse the body of toxins. Although many people eat it as a boiled vegetable (which removes the oxalic acid) and use the young leaves in moderate amounts in salads (if you eat too much uncooked yellow dock it can cause diarrhea), most of the medicinal properties are contained in the root. The root is dried and used as an infusion or powdered for use in capsules, although tinctures of the root are also available.
Drinking yellow dock root tea made up of one teaspoon of the crushed or grated root in a cup of boiling water between one and four times a day is a good and gentle way of cleansing the digestive system. Its diuretic properties help reduce water retention. The removal of toxins helps to relieve many conditions related to toxic buildup in the system, including headaches, skin problems and general fatigue. It is particularly good for the health of the liver, as this is where toxins are filtered from our blood, and in a healthy liver these toxins are eliminated from our system by the free flow of bile.
Some Precautions When Considering Yellow Dock
The oxalic acid contained in yellow dock root can irritate some people’s intestines and should be avoided by those who have kidney disease, kidney stones or a severe case of irritable bowel. Yellow dock should not be taken regularly to treat constipation because regular use of the herb can cause laxative dependence. Pregnant women should not use yellow dock root without first consulting with their doctor.