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Rumex crispus


Rumex crispus


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Yellow Dock, Curly Dock, Narrow Dock, Narrow-leaved Dock, Sour Dock.


Considered to be a common weed, the reddish-brown Rumex crispus grows to roughly 1m in height, with narrow, glabrous leaves found stemming from a rosette pattern. A center stalk grows from the plant from which the seed and green droop flower clusters can be found. The brown or green seeds attach easily to passing animal furs and float on water, which makes them very efficient in reproducing. The yellowish root is large and forms a forked taproot system. R. crispus is best grown in rich, damp soils in open fields or ditches.

Origin / Habitat

R. crispus, or Yellow Dock, an invasive herb found flourishing on several continents throughout the world, is thought to be native to Europe and then introduced to North America.

Chemical Constituents

Oxalic acid, calcium oxalate, Tannins, quercetin and other flavonoids, neopodin 8-glucoside, lapodin, antranoids, and the aglycones physcion, chryosphanol, emodin, aloe-emodin, rhein.(2),(3)

Plant Part Used

Root (4)

Traditional Use

R. crispus has been valued by numerous Native American tribes for its use as both a topical and internal medication. Of the internal applications, perhaps the most common among Native American tribes is the treatment of blood disorders. Commonly, a decoction of the root has been used as a general blood tonic or purifier.(4) As a hemostat, the root of R. crispus has been used, primarily by numerous tribes to stop bleeding and hemorrhaging of various internal organs and external wounds. Specifically, numerous tribes, including the Cherokee, Cheyenne,(5) and the Iroquois all used a decoction of the root to treat hemorrhaging in the lung.(4) In addition to treating bleeding in the lung, R. crispus has been used to treat other lung and respiratory disorders, including cough, cold and throat aches.


Other internal applications of R. crispus include the use as a gastrointestinal aide, having been used to treat ulcers, diarrhea and common dyspepsia, and as a strong, digestible source of iron for women. Infusions of root powder were also used as laxatives.(6),(7),(8)


The external applications of R. crispus are numerous. A poultice of the root has been used commonly by several Native American tribes to treat pains associated with rheumatism and other inflammatory conditions.(4) Poultices of the root of R. crispus have also been applied to sores, wounds and ulcerated skin conditions.(6) Additionally, the powdered root was used as a dentifrice.(7)


Traditional dosages would vary by tribe, indication and preparation.

1.0-1.5 grams of root powder per day.

One to two teaspoons of dried herb steeped in boiling water, 2-3 times per day.(1)



Most available data regarding R. crispus is either anecdotal in nature or represents traditional use. Published research is lacking in any clinically relevant category despite the long history of use. The laxative effects have been documented in laboratory analysis in an in vivo animal model.(9)

An ether extract of R. crispus demonstrated antimicrobial activities on Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus subtilis in a laboratory setting. The same study examined water extracts of R. crispus and found no antimicrobial activity but found high antioxidant activity.(10)


No documentation

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

No documentation

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

R. crispus is considered safe when used as directed.(11) However there has been one case of death reported due to the use of R. crispus.(12)

Not to be used by individuals with kidney or liver disease.

Not to be taken by individuals with hepatic insufficiency.


Not to be taken by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

Keep away from children.

Adverse reaction

No documentation

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  1)  Western Herbs


  1. Duke JA.  The Green Pharmacy Handbook. NY: Rodale Press; 2000.
  2. Başkan S, Daut-Özdemir A, Günaydın K, Erim FB. Analysis of anthraquinones in Rumex crispus by micellar electrokinetic chromatography. Talanta. Feb. 15, 2007;71(2):747-750.
  3. Thomson Healthcare. PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Thomson Healthcare Inc.; 2007
  4. Moerman DE. Native American Ethnobotany. Portland OR: Timber Press; 2009
  5. Grinnel GB. The Cheyenne Indians – Their History and Ways of Life. Volume 2: Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press; 1972.
  6. Hutchens, A. Indian Herbalogy of North America. Boston, MA: Shambala; 1991.
  7. Lewis WH, Elvin-Lewis MPF. Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Man’s Health. NY: Wiley-Interscience; 1977.
  8. Miller L. Murray WJ. Herbal Medicinals: A Clinician’s guide. NY: Pharmaceutical Products Press; 1998.
  9. Kanzik I‌, Şener‌ B, Akar‌ F. Influence on Some Rumex Extracts on Histamine and Prostaglandin Levels in Rat Gut. Pharmaceutical Biology 1988;26(3):173.
  10. Yildirim A, Mavi A, Kara AA. Determination of antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of Rumex crispus L. extracts. J Agric Food Chem. Aug. 2001;49(8):4083-4089.
  11. McGuffin M, et al. Botanical Safety Handbook. NY: CRC Press; 1997.
  12. Reig R, Sanz P, Blanche C, Fontarnau R, Dominguez A, Corbella J. Fatal poisoning by Rumex crispus (curled dock): pathological findings and application of scanning electron microscopy. Vet Hum Toxicol. Oct. 1990;32(5):468-470.

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