Curly Dock (Yellow Dock) Medicinal Food Plant

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Curly Dock, which has yellow roots is often called Yellow Dock. The “weed” most farmer’s do their level best to rid from out of their fields.  There are myriad medicinal uses & nutrition. I make crackers (recipe below) from the brown seeds (found after the flowers have turned).

It is a high protein survival food. As you walk in the open, if you need a nutritional boost, take a handful of the seeds, green or brown & enjoy..chew well to help absorb the nutrition available before swallowing.

Medicinal uses derived from Peterson Field Guide Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants page 214.  The dried root tea (as a decoction, boil & then simmer for 30 mins.) is a “blood purifier,” for bad blood. Works on chronic (been there a while, not sudden) skin diseases, chronic enlarged lymph glands, liver ailments, sore throats. May cause or relieve diarrhea, depending on dose. Too much will cause diarrhea, but the right amount will correct diarrhea. This is if you take large doses. You will be the judge by taking small amounts until bowels soften, then back away the dose to a level dose. Anthraquinones can arrest growth of ringworm & other fungi.

Edible Wild Plants – A North American Field Guide, page 121, harvest the leaves in early spring or thru late winter. Strip seeds from stalks in late summer & fall. Leaves cooked taste like beet greens. Cook older leaves longer with 1 or 2 water changes to make them tender & no bitterness. Do not overdue if you are not used to eating dock leaves, can cause stomach upset. Work up gradually.

There are no poisonous look alikes.

The roots have minerals such as  iron, contains tannin. Used to treat coughs, fever, scurvy, tumors & cancer. The crushed root is used as a poultice for wounds & skin irritations.

Collect the root after it has gone to seed (seeds turn brown & dry), in midsummer & use as a decoction or tincture. Usual dose of the tincture, 5-3 drops twice a day. The looser the stool the smaller should be the dose. Matthew Wood in his book The Earthwise Herbal -Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants recommends 1-3 drops, 3x/day sufficient for bowels loose or constipated. Do not use water dock in place of curly dock.

***The one caution…if you have a history of kidney stones, be watchful to not use large dose, very minute if necessary to use for above complications.

Below I will list the medicinal uses for the root made in an alcohol tincture unless noted otherwise.

Yellow around the eyes, nose or mouth, dry cheeks

irritable sleep especially in young girls at puberty

throat swollen, dark red, with little pain to no pain


Diarrhea, especially in morning

slow digestion where food sits like a brick in the colon

hemorrhoids, with bleeding, itching


retention of urine

Pregnancy:anemia (use with nettles)

Ringworm; 1 cup in pint of vinegar, boil down to half pint, cool, strain, apply with soft cloth (external)

More uses are listed in depth in the book by Matthew Wood*

Book list

Matthew Wood has several books, but I only have two, both Earthwise Herbals so for any other information, I cannot vouch for his information in other writings. His books thus far are a wonderful addition to ones herbal information & I can highly recommend them.

This next book is a wonderful book to have if you live in TN or the Ohio Valley or the Southern Appalachians, as the pictures are clear & the explanations are thorough.

Dock Seed Crackers

• Blend the seeds in a blender, spice grinder, or if you have some time a mortar and pestle.

(Store extra dry dock seed flour in a jar, and whole seeds in a paper bag.)

Mix together :

 one cup of dock seed flour

one teaspoon of salt

and one cup flour of your choice. ( whole-wheat pastry flour and rye flour or any choice)

Mix in enough water to make pliable, but not sticky dough.

Optional, herbs like dill, or coriander & garlic to taste

  • On a well-floured surface, roll dough as thin as possible. Cut into desired shapes or transfer it whole to a well-oiled cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 10 -12 minutes at 375O or until crisp.