Part/s Used: Root + Leaf
Energetics: Cooling, drying
Taste: Bitter, sweet, mildly sour
Actions: Alterative, cholagogue, mild laxative, blood tonic
Tissue state: Damp/stagnation.
Folklore: In scottish tales, yellow dock was used to break a fairys hold over a child. Possession of fairies was a frequent theme in gaelic lore.
Tincture: Fresh 1:2 Dry (ratio & % alcohol): 1:5 60%
Tea: Strong decoction
Capsules: “00” Times a Day: 1-2x
Yellow dock is a perennial weed in the buckwheat family. A wild food and medicine indigenous to Asia and Europe that has naturalized overtime in North America. Dock thrives in a variety of habitats including riverbanks, fields and meadows, roadsides, and wastelands. The first-year plants form a basal rosette and in its second year shoots up a tall flowering stalk that can grow up to 5 feet tall. In the early spring, notice dock unfurl its soft leaves. As the plant matures its leaves become broad with curly edges and get smaller (willow like) towards the top.
Yellow dock is a digestive bitter. What makes yellow dock a little bit different from other bitters is that it contains small amounts of anthraquinones glycosides which are laxative and found in higher amounts in herbs like senna and cascara. Yellow dock mildly stimulates smooth muscle contractions in the intestines, causing cramps and a bowel movement. Dock stimulates the release of digestive enzymes (due to its bitter properties) including bile, which is our own bodies natural laxative. Take 15-30 min before a meal to enhance digestion and assimilation of fat and fat soluble vitamins A, B, D, E, protein, amino acids, minerals and iron. Dock is a bitter tonic and is less allopathic in this way. It is an herb for heat and inflammation in the GI. A GI tonic for leaky gut, IBS, flora imbalance, candida excessive (will help to dry out), reduce loose stool, gas bloating (use with other carminatives). Any heat is the digestive system. Yellow dock contains Vitamins A, B and C, minerals and is considered a nutritive. Start with a low dose, then work your way up. Taking too much at once can have a laxative effect.
Yellow dock is an alterative, opening the channels of elimination. Dock builds strong blood that is nutrient rich and fuels the vital organs with the nourishment they need in order to function properly. Dock encourages the release of iron stores in the liver, eliminating and facilitating metabolism, cleaning the blood and the liver. Especially chronic liver stagnation, liver disease (use water base or capsules). Dock is a portal vein decongestant. It moves stagnant blood seen in varicose veins, hemorrhoids, spider veins. Appropriate for meses stagnation and cramping from delayed menses. It is a specific for skin conditions that have a rusty red coloring, indicating heat seen in forms of acne, boils, eczema, psoriasis. This is a signature for Yellow dock as it turns a rust color in the fall.
Dock is high in tannins which are astringent and antiseptic and stops bleeding. Use as a poultice or wash fomentation for open wounds, bites, stings, nettle stings (often found growing near nettle). Gargle the tea for gum inflammation and sore throats.
Harvest the leaves in the early spring before they become bitter and tough. Eat them raw (in moderation) in salads or steamed. To harvest the roots in the fall, locate the distinct tall, dead flower heads that remain. Cut them down to the ground for easy removal. Begin to loosen the dirt all the way around the root the best you can and slowly work the large yellow forking tap root free with your hands. Shake the dirt off or rinse in a river or stream. Be a good steward and rake the evacuated soil back into the hole. Yellow dock can accumulate toxins and pollutants, so it is important to be mindful of where you harvest the root. Strip the small papery seeds from the dead stalk and start your own dock garden. Be sure to keep you patch well under control.
Pregnancy of lactating women should avoid high doses as dock has a grounding, contracting energy. Avoid with any bowel or gallbladder duct obstructions. Too high of a dose can have a laxative effect, cause nausea and excessive thirst. Start low and work your way up. Use caution with high ferritin levels. Yellow dock leaves are listed as toxic for dogs due to it oxalic content and best to avoid them in large quantities.
Sources:The Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood
A Modern Herbal Volume 1 by Mrs. M. Grieve
The Science and Art of Herbalism by Rosemary Gladstar
Northwest School for Botanical Studies by Christa Sinadinos
Evolutionary Herbalism Vitalist Herbal Practitioner Program By Sajah Popham