Yellow Dock: The Herb of Understanding

Yellow Dock is a strong weed, seen through the seasons in various stages of growth. Right now in winter, the stream of red in the leaf’s center (a brilliant color for nature) calls to the passerby, hinting at the fact that the name ‘weed’ has placed a mask over its powerful virtues.

As I sit with yellow dock on an unusually warm winter day in my garden in Asheville, NC, I am impressed by its humble beauty and strength.  The plant is as common as the need for it, and proves this by growing in lawns, on streetcorners and parks in every neighborhood and in every season. If only people knew about the healing benefits of Yellow Dock! There would be a drastic decline in Tums and laxatives, and even in iron pills!

Yellow Dock, or Rumex crispus, is also known by the name curly dock due to the curling actions of the leaves.  These leaves are a cousin of sorrel, and edible as well, with a sour and astringent taste.  The root is similar in taste, althought also bitter, and pushes down into the earth as a yellow-shaped man. These particular tastes and the downward moving action signify the effects yellow dock has on moving things down and out of the digestive system. The root as a tincture or tea can help move bile, decongesting the gallbladder and liver. It also detoxifies the blood (especially in combination with burdock root) and stimulates the peristaltic action of the colon (reducing constipation.)  Certain sources and my own experience with clients is that the intelligence of the plant creates an amphoteric action for the colon, helping to bring balance no matter what the affliction.  So for example, whether one is suffering from an irritable, crampy bowel, or a sluggish, immobile digestive system–yellow dock ameliorates.

In the energetic and spiritual realm, Yellow Dock is known as ‘the Herb of Understanding.’ According to Matthew Wood, one of my mentors and author of “The Book of Herbal Wisdom,” certain Native American tribes used Yellow Dock before a sweat lodge to deepen the wisdom and discernment of the material versus the spiritual realms. In my own experience, it assists in illuminating our higher mind through the avenue of strengthening the solar plexus–the seat of our will, power and assimilation of all life’s experiences.  It helps us to flush out old emotionsthat have become stagnant and even materialized in the form of hard matter or congestion in the colon.  Its downward flowing action correlates to Yoga and Ayurveda’s concept of Apana Vayu, the energy that governs all forms of elimination such as urination, menstruation, defecation and childbirth. As a tonic in this regards it is used by women for loss of iron and digestive issues during menstruation & childbirth. It makes a wonderful iron syrup tonic with molasses!!

This assistance to the downward flowing motion of energy is probably one of the most important gifts of yellow dock.  When it is hard to let go of the past (stories, anger, guilt, pain), old emotions or trauma lingering in the conscious or subconcsious mind, yellow dock is a powerful ally. Physically it ‘cleanses our blood’ but mentally it helps cleanse our mind.

Yellow Dock is a tonic, meaning it is nourishing like food.  I suggest whoever is reading this to get to know this plant! Make a tea from the roots (found in the bulk section of most health food stores) or as a tincture, or just sit by it on a sunny day to slow down, rest a bit and take the time to let go of whatever you no longer need. When we allow ourselves the time and space…and support to LET GO, we naturally make room for something else to move into our lives…and with intention, this something can be whatever we need–the perfect medicine to any situation.

For more information on Yoga and Herbs for the Digestion please visit http://www.vitalyogi.com for workshops, herbal remedies and articles. Namaste.