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Yellow dock goes by many names, including Rumux crispus, Curly Dock and Garden Patience. Yellow Dock Tea is a decoction of the bitter but delicious root that is high in iron and highly bioavailable. This “iron wine” is a natural, herbal remedy for anemia.
Four years ago I was diagnosed with anemia. My doctor put me on three cups of yellow dock root tea a day. This article shares how and why.
What are the health benefits of yellow dock root tea?
In addition to being a potent source of iron, yellow dock has the following health benefits:
- aids low stomach acid
- helps the liver to regenerate and cleanse
- provides detox support
- improves digestion
- benefits immune system
- balances hormones (helps to eliminate excess estrogen)
- provides energy during menses
- supports healthy blood sugar levels
- is a prebiotic food, beneficial for colon health
- relieves constipation and diarrhea
- adds soil minerals to the diet
- used topically, helps with acne and psoriasis
- is excellent for arthritis and issues of inflammation
Yellow dock is a digestive stimulant that affects bile production.
Interestingly, yellow dock not only contains high levels of iron, it increases the uptake of other iron-rich foods. Therefore, a wonderful anemia remedy includes other iron-rich ingredients: burdock root, dandelion root, nettles and molasses. A dark brew made from these five ingredients is a wonderful approach to getting one’s iron levels up quickly.
In general, humans absorb less than 1% of the iron they consume. Adding yellow dock root to meals, or drinking this tea, can improve one’s iron levels effectively.
What’s yellow dock tea taste like?
Yellow Dock Tea is STRONG — like what black coffee must taste like to a young child, bitter and dry.
Getting the right ratio of root to water takes some figuring. Sweetened, yellow dock becomes palatable. Because I’ve come to love this strong tea, I’m eager to share with you not only this whole food remedy, but also the recipe: how to make yellow dock tea delicious and enjoyable.
I share below how to make the herbal decoction: healing tea from a woodsy root.
Can yellow dock root be mixed with other herbs?
Yes! Yellow dock is synergistic with several other herbs, including burdock root.
I add ground burdock root to yellow dock to make the simple brew more delicious and beneficial nutritionally.
An adaptogenic herb, burdock has been recognized for centuries for its unique cleansing and restorative qualities. Burdock helps with the breakdown of toxins and the elimination of waste. These properties align it well with yellow dock, which cleanses the liver. Burdock, too, is bitter, and it, too, stimulates the liver and gall bladder to produce and release digestive juices.
Burdock is also used to heal skin conditions, kidney disease and is beneficial in cancer treatment and prevention.
For our purposes with this tea, burdock root is high in vitamin C. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron.
Two other herbs work well with yellow dock:
- Dandelion root is high in iron and stimulates bile production. Dandelion gently improves liver and gall bladder health, then benefiting skin and hormone health. (Many other benefits are also attributed to dandelion, including its ability to reduce inflammation and its anticancer effects.) Find organic bulk dandelion root here.
- Nettle leaf is high in highly digestible iron, easy to assimilate. Nettle leaf is rich in minerals and a wonderful herb to include in one’s daily regimen. Nettles help to relieve stress, improve digestion, as well as aiding liver health. Nettle leaf is considered a superstar in treating anemia and the fatigue caused by iron deficiency. I include nettles in a variation you will find in the Recipe Notes below. Find organic bulk nettle leaf here.
Can you cook with yellow dock?
Powdered yellow dock can also be mixed into curry powders. Curry with yellow dock once a week is recommended by herbalist Ryan Drum to gradually improve one’s iron levels.
Find powdered yellow dock here. Or grind dried yellow dock root to a fine powder in your coffee grinder.
I also make Yellow Dock Tea with vanilla extract, for two reasons: One, the vanilla flavor makes the hot beverage more palatable. Two, the alcohol in vanilla extract helps to pull the healing properties from yellow dock root.
YELLOW DOCK TEA RECIPE
Boil 4 cups water, yellow dock and vanilla for 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat, stir in burdock and cover.
Allow the brew to steep for 30 to 60 minutes.
Add remaining 2 cups water and reheat to serve.
Pour through a strainer. Sweeten to taste with honey or stevia.
Variation with dandelion, nettles and molasses:
- Use 8 cups water total.
- Boil 6 cups water. Add 3 Tablespoons dandelion root with the yellow dock root and vanilla (follow recipe above).
- Stir in 3 Tablespoons nettles with the burdock.
- Add 1 Tablespoon molasses with your sweetener of choice.
What variations and other herbs taste good with yellow dock?
I have also learned to add hibiscus.
High in Vitamin C, hibiscus adds a lovely, rich, fruity note and helps the iron to assimilate.
To the recipe above, add 2 tablespoons of loose hibiscus petals during the last 10 minutes of steeping. If you wish, sweeten with raw honey. The addition of hibiscus makes a delicious cup of nutrient-dense tea.
Can you drink too much yellow dock tea?
Yellow dock is moderately high in oxalates. Yellow dock can be used in small amounts for short periods of time or intermittently. Some sources warn it should not be consumed long term. Yellow dock should be avoided or used with caution when a history of kidney stones is present.
One of the best approaches to high oxalate foods and many herbs is to rotate them. Provide variety for the body to prevent excess.
Please consult your healthcare practitioner before beginning any new herb or healing protocol.
Regarding pregnancy, most herbalists agree that yellow dock may be safer than the ferrous sulfate found in iron supplements, which cause constipation. Ask your practitioner about using Yellow Dock tea or tincture (1 teaspoon daily, in divided doses) combined with iron and vitamin C-rich foods to gently and safely raise iron levels. (source)
What if you don’t want to drink the tea? Is there an alternative?
If you prefer an alternative to tea, here’s how to make a tincture from yellow dock root.
Find Herb Pharm’s Yellow Dock tincture here.
What’s a long term solution for anemia?
The root cause of anemia varies patient to patient, but one new finding points to the liver’s capacity for vitamin A storage.
Glyphosate (the poison commonly used in conventional farming) impedes the body’s detoxification mechanisms, which may contribute to chronic vitamin A toxicity over time. (source)
Eating “the rainbow” (colorful foods like kale and red bell peppers), as well as super foods like liver or cod liver oil, adds excessive vitamin A. The theory of vitamin A toxicity speculates that the liver pushes iron out to make room for the storage of vitamin A. Excess vitamin A may cause not only anemia, but also eczema, (ironically) eye health issues, mental health issues, kidney problems and much more.
A temporary low vitamin A diet relieved my iron deficiency. While more testing of this theory is needed, it may be helpful to consider the Vitamin A Detox diet (read more here) as a long term solution for anemia.
Other factors in the causes of anemia include pathogen overgrowth, specifically SIBO, and Celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity.
How to have your iron levels checked?
Where to start before you supplement? Iron is measured with a ferritin blood test. Doctors don’t always test for ferritin.
Doctors’ recommendations for ideal levels of ferritin vary significantly, from 40-70 mcg/L to 70-150 for optimal health. Iron can be too low or too high. Ask your doctor for a copy of your blood work to see if you’ve been tested and what your numbers are.
Also ask your doctor for these iron values tested along with ferritin:
- Serum iron
- % iron saturation
- TIBC (Total iron binding capacity)
If the above three are elevated, then the blood and cells are saturated with iron, and it isn’t being used properly by your body. This could be attributed to liver or thyroid issues, B12 or folate deficiency. We shouldn’t supplement with iron until we understand these values.
If the % iron saturation and TIBC are low and serum iron is normal or low along with low ferritin, then it may be ideal to start supplementing with iron. These values can be checked every 6 weeks.
Have you used yellow dock as an herbal remedy for anemia?
Drum, R. Rumex crispus [Video]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p693JHH5yFo
Ganora, L. Herbal Constituents
Tierra, M. The Ways of Herbs
Wood, M. The Earthwise Herbal