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Love your liver and soothe inflammation with yellow dock tea

Love your liver and soothe inflammation with yellow dock tea

Unlike the wildly popular hibiscus tea, the trendy Rooibos, or the classic chamomile, yellow dock tea has generally not received widespread attention.  But, this strong-tasting decoction has long been valued by knowledgeable herbalists and natural healers for its powerful health benefits.

Botanically known as Rumex crispus - and also known as curly dock, garden dock and garden patience - the yellow dock plant has narrow, curly leaves and pale green flowers growing on a tall stalk.  Both yellow dock leaves and root have a long history of herbal use for cleansing the liver and easing inflammatory conditions.  In fact, the ancient Greek physician Dioscorides recommended yellow dock for itchy, inflamed skin.  And, Native Americans reportedly used yellow dock to treat digestive ills, rashes and infected wounds.  Centuries later, we can still utilize yellow dock tea for its anti-inflammatory, skin-soothing and liver-cleansing properties.  Let’s examine what yellow dock can do.

Helps support a healthy liver and gallbladder

Yellow dock is believed to support liver, gallbladder and digestive health, and may help keep the liver free of harmful excess fat.  The roots are high in anthraquinone glycosides - natural compounds which may help to increase nutrient absorption, enhance the neutralization of toxins and increase the production of bile. 

Another useful property of yellow dock is that it functions as a diuretic, helping to flush out toxins via the urine.  (The faster that waste is eliminated, of course, the less opportunity there is for toxins to accumulate in the liver, gallbladder and bloodstream).  Natural health experts say that drinking up to three cups of yellow dock tea a day may help a sluggish liver and promote efficient detoxification.

Aids digestion

Because it is a bitter herb, yellow dock improves digestion – which it does by enhancing peristalsis and stepping up the production of saliva, digestive enzymes and bile.  Bitter herbs (which also include horseradish, coriander, chamomile, mint and dandelion leaves) are believed to help ease uncomfortable digestive problems.  In addition, anthraquinone glycosides promote the release of water into the intestines, inducing a gentle laxative effect.

Natural health experts say that bitters are more quickly and easily absorbed through tissues in the mouth.  So, while powdered yellow dock root is available in capsules, it is best to drink it as a tea when trying it for digestive purposes.  Yellow dock tea is easy to make - simply steep a teaspoon of the powdered root in a cup of boiling water.  Because of the bitter flavor, you may want to combine yellow root tea with tastier decoctions - such as hibiscus tea - and sweeten with raw honey or molasses if desired.

Benefits skin

Yellow dock is also available in the form of skin creams and facial washes.  Its astringent properties allow it it to tone, tighten and cleanse skin – while easing swelling and soothing minor irritation.  In a recent review published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, the authors credited anthraquinones in yellow dock with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities - meaning these compounds can soothe irritation and may help kill bacteria on the skin. 

For this reason, many natural skin care experts advise yellow dock to treat acne and psoriasis.  Finally, yellow dock is rich in powerful antioxidants, such as rutin.  Natural skin care experts report that antioxidants can help decrease oxidative damage and slow the premature aging caused by free radicals.

Provides essential micronutrients

Good to know: yellow dock contains antioxidant vitamin C - along with essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, manganese and zinc.  And, yellow dock is such a rich source of plant-based iron that natural healers have long advised it to help boost low iron levels.  

A note of caution: experts report that eating large amounts of raw yellow dock leaves can cause serious side effects, including stomach cramps, diarrhea and breathing problems.  In addition, raw yellow dock contains large amounts of oxalic acid, which can bind to calcium and cause mineral deficiencies.  To be on the safe side, cook yellow dock leaves well.  They can then be used as a savory potherb in soups and stews.

Naturally, consult your trusted integrative doctor before consuming yellow dock roots, leaves or teas.

And, don’t use yellow dock if you are allergic to it.  Natural health experts report that an allergy to ragweed makes a yellow dock allergy more likely.

When it comes to traditional herbal remedies, yellow dock really is a “golden oldie.”  But this bitter herb can have surprisingly sweet effects on digestion and general health.

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