Rumex crispus L.

Last updated: 24 Oct 2016

Scientific Name

Rumex crispus L.


Lapathum crispum Garsault [Invalid], Lapathum crispum (L.) Scop., Rheum crispum G.Don, Rumex odontocarpus Sandor ex Borbás. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Curled dock, curled sorrel, curly dock, dock, nar-row dock, narrow-leaved dock, sour dock, yellow dock [2]
China Niu er da huang [2]
India Amla-vedasa, bijband, bijbande surkh, chuka-bija, chukka, endrance, hummaz, kala khen-boun, kuraku, pdlivanchi, shukku, shula-vedhi-chukra, suk-gu-kire, tukhm hummaz, tukhm hummaz baryan, turshah [2]
Vietnam D[uw][ow]ng [dd][eef] nh[aw]n [2]
Tibet Rgya-sho [2]
Japan Nagaba-gishigishi [2]
Southern Africa Beesslaai, krulblaarrumex, krulsuring, krultongblaar, tongblaar, suring, weeblaar, wildespinasie; ubuklunga (Xhosa), ubuklunga (Zulu) [2]
Spain Acitosa, lengua de vaca [2]
Northern America Curly or yellow dock, lengua de vaca, shiakipi (Dakota), sour dock, patience crépue, requette, rumex crépu [2]
Peru Moztaza [2]
Italy Lapazio, romice crespa [2].

Geographical Distributions

Rumex crispus is thought to be native from Europe, now widespread throughout the world, from temperate to (sub) tropical regions including Vietnam and Java. [3]

Botanical Description

R. crispus is a member of Polygonaceae family [1]. This plant is a perennial herb that is 30—150 cm tall [3].

It has sparingly branched and reddish stem. [3]

The taproot is carrot-like and is measures of 20-30(-150) cm long. [3]

The basal leaves are narrowly lanceolate to oblanceolate, measures of 10-30 cm x 2-8 cm, 4-5 times longer than wide, base shallowly cordate, rounded, truncate or cuneate, apex acute to obtuse, margins undulate or crisped, petiole shorter than blade and measures of 10-12 cm long. [3]

The inflorescence is arrange in a dense raceme, branches erect or ascending, lower flower whorls somewhat remote. [3]

The flower is bisexual, inner perianth segments enlarged in fruit, 3-3.5(-6) mm long, entire to subentire, at least one segment tuberculate; nutlet 2.5-3 mm long. [3]


R. crispus is a weed of cropped land, along humid roadsides and waste places, in Java at 1250-2100 m altitude. [3]

Chemical Constituent

The roots of R. crispus has been reported to contain anthraquinone compounds namely 1,5-dihydroxy-3-methylanthraquinone, 1,3,5-trihydroxy-6-hydroxymethylanthraquinone, and 1,5-dihydroxy-3-methoxy-7-methylanthraquinone. [4]

R. crispus also has been reported to contain oxalic acid, calcium oxalate, tannins, quercetin and other flavonoids, neopodin 8-glucoside, lapodin, antranoids, and the aglycones physcion, chryosphanol, emodin, aloe-emodin, rhein. [5]

Plant Part Used

Roots. [4][6]

Traditional Use

A decoction of the root of R. crispus has been used as a general blood tonic or purifier by Native American tribes. [6]

As a haemostat, 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 [7], and the Iroquois all used a decoction of the root to treat hemorrhaging in the lung [6]

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 [6].

 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. [8][9][10]

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. [6]

Poultices of the root of R. crispus have also been applied to sores, wounds and ulcerated skin conditions. [8] Additionally, the powdered root was used as a dentifrice. [9]

Preclinical Data


Laxative effect activity

R. crispus has been reported to exhibit a laxative effect activity. A test in an in vivo animal model shows that R. crispus possess laxative effect due to increased intestinal production of histamine and PG-Im. [11]

Antimicrobial activity

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 anti-microbial activity but found high antioxidant activity. [12]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation.


No documentation.

Side effects

R. crispus is considered safe when used as directed [13] however there has been one case of death reported due to poisoning of R. crispus. [14]

R. crispus contains oxalates which can be poisonous to animals and are present in this plant in an amount that is considered high enough to be toxic. [9]

Not to be used by individuals with kidney or liver disease. [15]

Not to be taken by individuals with hepatic insufficiency. [15]

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

Not to be taken by pregnant or nursing women. [15]

Age limitation

Keep away from children. [16]

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

Based on traditional use and pharmacology, this herb should not be used in combination with laxatives. [15]

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.


No documentation.


Dosage Range

2-4 g of roots powder per day. [15]

1-2 teaspoons of dried herb steeped in boiling water, 2-3 times per day. [15]

Most Common Dosage

1-2 ml of R. crispus three times per day. [15]


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Rumex crispus L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23, cited 2016 Oct 2016]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume V R-Z. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 105-106.
  3. Do NT. Rumex crispus L. In: van Valkenburg JLCH, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant resources of South-East Asia No. 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 2001; p. 483.
  4. Baskan S, Daut-Ozdemir A, Günaydin K, Erim FB. Analysis of anthroquinones in Rumex crispus by micellar electrokinetic chromatography. Talanta. 2007;71(2):747-760.
  5. Thomson Healthcare.  PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Thomson Healthcare Inc; 2007.
  6. Moerman DE. Native American ethnobotany. Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2009.
  7. Grinnell GB. The Cheyenne Indians: Their history and ways of life. Volume 2. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1972.
  8. Hutchens AR. Indian herbalogy of North America. Boston, MA: Shambala, 1991.
  9. Lewis WH, Elvin-Lewis MPF. Medical botany: Plants affecting man’s health. NY: Wiley-Interscience, 1977.
  10. Miller L, Murray WJ. Herbal medicinals: A clinician’s guide. NY: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1998.
  11. Kanzik I‌, Şener‌ B, Akar‌ F, Satiroğlu S, Karakoc H. Influence on some Rumex extracts on histamine and prostaglandin levels in rat gut. Int J Crude Drug Res. 1988;26(3):173-177.
  12. Yildirim A, Mavi A, Kara AA. Determination of antioxidant ad antimicrobial activities of Rumex crispus L. extracts. J Agric Food Chem. 2001;49(8):4083-4089.
  13. McGuffin M. Botanical safety handbook. Nw York: CRC Press; 1997.
  14. 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. 1990;32(5):468-470.
  15. Suggestions and administrations of yellow dock. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [updated 2014 Apr 17; cited 2016 Oct 25]. Available from:
  16. Yellow dock herb – health benefits and side effects. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2016 Oct 25]. Available from: