What Are the Yellow Dock Benefits & Where It is Used?

by Raychel Agramon, RN, MPM, April 20, 2020

yellow dock benefits

Yellow dock benefits, scientifically known as Rumex crispus, is a versatile herb commonly found in Europe and Africa. Its leaf stalks, which can grow anywhere from 1 to 3 feet, are often used in salads. Its root, which can grow from 8 to 12 inches long, is used to treat several conditions. 

Also known as curly dock, yellow dock has long been used as a form of skin remedy. In fact, it has become a natural option for people with acne, dermatitis, and psoriasis, among many other common skin conditions

yellow dock benefits

Where is Yellow Dock Used?

In the early days, the ancient Romans used curly dock to cure skin conditions. The scribe Gerard has even said that "it purifies the blood and makes young wenches look fair and cherry-like." 

On the other side of the world, the Native Americans utilized Rumex crispus for skin maladies as well. They applied crushed leaves to boils, while its pulverized roots were placed directly on cuts. 

As a medicinal herb, curly dock can also be used to treat the following ailments: 

  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Intestinal problems 
  • Bleeding conditions 
  • Scurvy (deficiency of Vitamin C)
  • Painful, swollen nasal passages/respiratory tract 
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Sexually transmitted diseases 
  • Constipation or difficulty passing stool 
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Arthritis

Yellow Dock Benefits for Acne

While yellow dock’s effects on acne have not been studied scientifically, its many properties may be helpful against pimples:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties 

Yellow dock may help control inflammation. This is why yellow dock is used to reduce the swelling of the respiratory tract in the first place. With that being said, its anti-inflammatory properties make Rumex crispus useful against acne as well. 

Acne, after all, is a chronic inflammatory condition. It brings about pimples that are red, sore, and painful. Apart from scarring, inflammatory acne can lead to poor self-image, anxiety, even depression. As such, yellow dock may help minimize the inflammation that triggers severe acne. 

  • Anti-bacterial properties 

Yellow dock contains compounds such as Anthraquinones, which can help fight infections. Pimples are often caused by organisms such as Propionibacterium acnes, which is why traditional acne treatments often include antibiotics.  

While P. acnes naturally occurs on the skin, its balance may be disrupted by a poor diet, hormonal changes, or stress. When this happens, P. acnes replicate uncontrollably – and such results to pimples. With its anti-bacterial properties, Rumex crispus may help control P. acnes overpopulation – and the acne that stems from it. 

  • Anti-oxidative effects 

Anthraquinones found in curly dock also come with anti-oxidative effects. That means they can fight free radicals, molecules that are harmful to the body. Not only do they lead to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, free radicals may cause acne as well.

In an interview with Dr. Josh Zeichner, the dermatologist explained that free radicals bring about skin inflammation. This leads to blocked pores, and subsequently, pimples. Expectedly, anti-oxidants such as yellow dock may help neutralize free radicals, thereby reducing acne severity along the way. 


yellow dock benefits

Rumex crispus for Other Skin Problems 

As has been mentioned, yellow dock has long been used to treat certain skin problems. Its skin benefits are often attributed to the three properties stated above. More than just treating cuts and wounds, yellow dock may be used in the following conditions as well:

  • Dermatitis and Psoriasis 

Curly dock is highly recommended for dermatitis, a condition marked by rashes, redness, itchiness, and skin dryness. It is also used to treat Psoriasis, an illness characterized by scaly skin and bumpy red patches. They are both inflammatory conditions, which may be addressed with the help of yellow dock’s anti-inflammatory properties. 

  • Premature Skin Aging 

Apart from possibly reducing the symptoms of dermatitis and psoriasis, yellow dock may also help rejuvenate the skin. Again, we have Anthraquinones to thank. These compounds, after all, are known to have antioxidant effects. They are very potent against free radicals, which you can get through pollution, smoking and UV exposure. 

Free radicals do not only bring acne, they can cause premature skin aging as well. The more exposure you have, the faster you’ll develop fine lines and wrinkles. With that being said, yellow dock’s anti-oxidative effects may help reverse aging’s effects on your skin. 

  • Skin Lightening

Yellow dock’s anthraquinones, specifically emodin, may help lighten the skin as well. A study by Leu et al. has shown that this component may help inhibit tyrosinase, an enzyme that affects pigmentation. With that being said, topical use of Rumex crispus may help promote a lighter, fairer complexion. 

How to Use Yellow Dock

Apart from eating curly dock stalks or taking supplements, there are other ways for you to enjoy the plant’s skin-boosting effects. You can use its root, which you should keep dry and frozen. To make a soothing tea, all you need to do is add 1 to 2 teaspoons of Rumex crispus root to 2 cups of water. 

You can make also make a yellow dock tincture for skin application. First, clean and chop the roots before placing them in a jar. Pour 100 proof vodka until all the root pieces are covered. Let it sit for 6 weeks until it becomes dark brown. Strain the mixture to get rid of Rumex crispus chunks. 

Transfer the liquid tincture to dark glass bottles. Add a few drops to your favorite moisturizer. Apply nightly and you may just see your acne slowly going away. 

yellow dock benefits

Tips and Reminders 

As food, cooked yellow dock is generally safe for consumption. Intake of raw Rumex crispus, however, can result in breathing difficulties, vomiting, heart problems, even death. As such, you should cook yellow dock well before you consume it. 

Herbalists recommend a daily oral intake of 1-2 ml of Yellow dock. Excessive consumption, however, should be avoided. If not, it may lead to the following side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea 
  • Increased urination
  • Low levels of calcium and potassium in the body
  • Skin irritation

Yellow dock should not be taken with the following drugs, as they may worsen the herb’s side effects:

  •  Digoxin, a drug that helps the heart beat stronger
  • Diuretics, pills that increase urination
  • Warfarin, a blood thinner

In a Nutshell

Yellow dock benefits is an herb that can be used in several skin conditions, such as pimples. It has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, all of which help reduce the severity of acne. Add to that, curly dock may help promote younger, lighter skin as well.