Whats up Dock?!
Dock has a bit of a bad rap here in New Zealand, but it actually is a fabulous support herb for the human body and what better way to get rid of it in places you don’t want it than to make medicine from its roots!
This is a recipe I use for an Iron, Blood, Liver and Digestive Support Tonic. The yellow colouring in the root of yellow dock shows the medicinal qualities of this fabulous root, perfect for harvesting right now in the winter while the energy is concentrated there.
From the buckwheat family Polygonaceae, Rumex crispus – Yellow dock and Rumex obtusifolius - Broad leaf dock are the most common here in New Zealand. Both docks are edible from roots to the seeds but the yellow dock is what you want to use for this tonic with its yellow root colouring showing its medicinal properties. Yellow dock has a thiner curly edged leaf. The most tender leaves and the best lemony (sour) flavoured ones come from young dock plants before the flower stalks develop. The leaves are bitter, astringent and contain oxalates so don't want to be eating in cup fulls, as with all wild greens they have concentrated vitamins and minerals so you get more nutrients from them than commercially grown produce so don't need to eat so much to gain their benefits and naturally contain vitamin C than oranges and more vitamin A than carrots. They also contain vitamins B1 and B2, and iron, potassium and magnesium. I add them to salad mixes, to wilted greens or soup. The seeds can be ground into flour and added to breads and batters. Dock root draws up nutrients from deep in the earth so is great for the garden as it breaks up earth and stagnation in the soil.
Dock has the highest non heme iron out of any plant based source, it concentrates iron from the earth and combines it with the vitamins and minerals needed to absorb this valuable mineral making it ideal for helping as a blood builder and is often used for anemia. Yellow docks cooling properties ease inflammation to the digestive tract as it helps strengthen and tone the gut. Its bitter properties activate the liver and gall bladder, aiding in the digestion of fats and absorption of nutrients. It is used as a blood tonic and cleanser along with a lymphatic stimulant that improves the metabolic functioning of the body to encourage the breakdown and elimination of toxins and waste. The root is bitter, astringent and high in minerals and are usually consumed as tea or tonic. Dock leaf and the sap from the base of the leaf is used for chronic skin conditions like acne and eczema, which often have an underlying cause in liver congestion. It can be used as a poultice or internally for this, you could also use for itchy chicken pox.
Iron, Blood, Liver and Digestive Support Tonic
The vodka (or any spirit you prefer) or apple cider vinegar draws out the medicinal properties and the honey makes it taste a bit nicer along with its own incredible health benefits as does pure maple syrup. I add rose hips for their vitamin C content which helps our bodies absorb iron and they also contain many important antioxidants that are naturally anti-inflammatory, shield immune cells from environmental damage and encourage the production of white blood cells, but you can leave them out if you wish.
Yellow dock root
Vodka or apple cider vinegar
Honey or pure maple syrup
To make this tonic dig up a dock root or two with a garden fork, give it a clean and slice thinly. Add to a clean sterilised jar along with crushed rose hips, a couple of spoons of honey then fill the jar with vodka or apple cider vinegar, cap, shake, label and leave for 2 weeks to 2 months, shaking every now and then. Strain through muslin to catch the little hairs from the rose hips and take 2 ml twice a day.