Yellow Dock: A Spring Tonic For Shaking Off Winter

 A potent medicinal, this herb has all the right actions to shake things up for spring.

A prodigious weed, yellow dock has a tap root that ends only once it reaches the earth’s molten core (at least this is what I assume, because I can never seem to get the whole root out). 

The herbalist in me is always excited to see the first green shoots of yellow dock. The gardener in me thinks “Ahhhhk, no! They’re all over the vegetable beds!”

I usually bridge these two conflicting feelings by making a lot of plant medicine. Early spring is the perfect time of year for harvesting this root, while the soil is still soft, and the plants energy is still below the ground.

Yellow dock has a number of super useful actions that make it a great spring tonic, as well as an overall useful herb to have in your medicine chest.


The bright color from which this plant gets its name is also part of its medicine. Antioxidant constituents, which in this case partially show up as a yellow pigment, are potent scavengers of free radicals. This means it encourages the protection of everything, eyes to ovaries, from damage on a molecular level, as well as aiding in regeneration.


Yellow dock is a very gentle laxative.  It encourages peristalsis (the squeezy-pully motion of the intestines) through a set of constituents called anthraquinones. It also aids in evacuation through its bitter principles. These encourage excretion of bile salts, which along with being necessary for fat digestion are also part of healthy BMs. 

Poop jokes aside, healthy digestive motility and bowel movements are an important part of processing waste in the body. Yellow dock gently encourages your own digestive processes, rather than forcefully stimulating them, as can be the case with pharmacuetical laxatives.

Using it as a powder, especially mixed with something bulky and a bit sweeter, such as flax seeds and cinnamon, makes taking this medicine a bit more effective (And just a touch tastier:)


This term essentially means that your filter organs, such as the liver and kidneys, are getting a bit of a boost. While the bitterness of yellow dock root might make it unpalatable, the constituents it represents contribute a great deal to its role as a blood cleanser.

A Caution

Don’t eat the leaves. Not in high quantity anyway. I know of folks who make pesto out of the leaves, but this seems inadvisable to me. That being said, documented cases of toxicity are rare. The one major case was a 53 year old dude who ate a huge amount of leaves in one go, and died of liver failure.

This is the extreme case, and as evidenced by the pesto making herbalists I mentioned before, not everyone is going to have this reaction. I personally stick to nibbling a few young leaves as a spring celebration, rather than going in for mass consumption.

Keep an eye out for this early spring medicine, and look forward to a year of living healthy!

Disclaimer: No matter how awesome, this article can in no way replace the care of a medical doctor. It is not meant to treat, diagnose, or prescribe in anyway. The above statements are not approved by the FDA.