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Rumex crispus - Yellow Dock: Research Review

Rumex crispus, also commonly referred to as yellow dock, is a perennial herb that comes from the Polygonaceae family of plants. Its constituents are composed of anthraquinone glycosides, tannins, oxalates, iron, and other various minerals. (Marciano, 2015) According to Hoffman, author of Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine, rumex crispus root is the part of the plant that is used medicinally. Rumex crispus has the therapeutic actions as an alterative, laxative, hepatic, cholagogue, and tonic. (Hoffmann, 2003, p.578) Upon performing a general research for “rumex crispus” using NCBI PubMed database, I came across two different studies which aimed to look into the therapeutic uses of rumex crispus. The first study is titled “Water Extract of Rumex Crispus Prevents Bone Loss by Inhibiting Osteoclastogenesis and Inducing Osteoblast Mineralization” and the second study is titled “Carbohydrase Inhibition and Anti-cancerous and Free Radical Scavenging Properties Along with DNA and Protein Protection Ability of Methanolic Root Extracts of Rumex Crispus”.

In the first study, “Water Extract of Rumex Crispus Prevents Bone Loss by Inhibiting Osteoclastogenesis and Inducing Osteoblast Mineralization”, the researchers aim was to study the pharmaceutical effects of a water extract of the herb rumex crispus on osteoblast and osteoclast differentiation. The researchers also looked into how a water extract of rumex crispus had an effect on the receptor activators for nuclear factor Kappa-B ligand (RANKL)-induced trabecular bone destruction in mice. (Shim KS, et al., 2017) To perform their study, the researchers used male mice that were seven weeks old. They acclimated the mice for one week prior to performing the study. Then, the study was performed for one week and at the end of the study on the seventh day, the mice were sacrificed by cervical dislocation so they could examine some of the bones. The methodology of this study included using a water extract of rumex crispus which was prepared with 50g of the dried herb soaked in one liter of distilled water and then was extracted by boiling it for three hours. After being filtered, it was evaporated under reduced pressure for lyophilization. The resulting powder was then re-suspended in distilled water and centrifuged for 15 minutes before being filtered again using a sterile filter. A high performance liquid chromatography analysis on the water extract of rumex crispus was used to identify the following three compounds: emodin, chrysophanol, and physcion. On day zero and day one of the study, the mice were subjected to administration of water extract of rumex crispus with having bone loss which was induced by an intraperitoneal RANKL injection or a phosphate buffered saline injection which was the control group. Each group consisted of six mice. This chosen model, according to the study, was because RANKL-induced bone loss is a simple and quick model that is used in evaluating drug candidates for osteoporosis. The RANKL-injected mice were dosed twice a day for five consecutive days. Upon day seven, the mice were sacrificed by cervical dislocation. This was so the researchers could examine the femurs for soft x-ray and micro-CT analysis. (Shim KS, et al., 2017) Results from this study showed that the mice who had the RANKL-injection of water extract of rumex crispus had an abolished trabecular structure at the metaphysis of the femur when compared to the other group. But, an oral administration of the water extract of rumex crispus showed that it had a protective action. This showed the researchers that a water extract of rumex crispus had bone protecting effects in an RANKL excess state. (Shim KS, et al., 2017) This study resulted in the researchers concluding that a water extract of rumex crispus induces osteoblast differentiation and inhibited RANKL-induced osteoclast differentiation and prevents bone loss in a mouse model. They believe that a water extract of rumex crispus would be a good pharmacological candidate for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. (Shim KS, et al., 2017) I found this study very interesting and wonder how the future of osteoporosis treatment and prevention will include herbal medicine, or if other studies done on humans over several decades could reproduce these results. This study was a bit different from others because it was done on an animal instead of tissues or humans. There does seem to be an evolving interest in using rumex crispus for various treatments of different medical issues. I would like to see this type of in depth study done on humans and am curious to know if the results would still be beneficial or if the human body can develop a tolerance over time to where the dosage would need to be adjusted constantly. I don’t feel that the study could have been improved as it is quite in depth and very detailed.

The second research study which is titled “Carbohydrase Inhibition and Anti-Cancerous and Free Radical Scavenging Properties Along with DNA and Protein Protection Ability of Methanolic Root Extracts of Rumex Crispus” was also rather interesting to read. This study was performed as to explain the actions of rumex crispus which include carbohydrase inhibition, anti-cancerous, free-radical scavenging, and the DNA and protein protection of a methanolic root extract of the herb rumex crispus. The subjects of this study were a human cancer cell line (HT-29) and also by using certain chemicals and reagents in testing that were purchased by Sigma. (PubMed, 2012) The root extract of rumex crispus was made by pulverizing the roots of the herb and extracting them in methanol, an 80% and an absolute, for three hours at 60 degrees Celsius. It was then filtered and evaporated with a vacuum rotary evaporator. To evaluate the free radical scavenging actions of the rumex crispus root extract, the researchers used a DPPH test. They used tocopherol and BHT as a positive control. For evaluating the anti-cancerous activity, the researchers used a conventional MTT assay with the HT-29 human cancer cell line. (PubMed, 2012) The results from their testing concluded that the 80% methanolic extract of rumex crispus was shown to be better than the absolute methanolic extract when it came to free radical scavenging. But, the root extract of rumex crispus inhibited cell growth of HT-29 in a dose dependent manner. The researchers of this study concluded that the free radical scavenging activity of a root extract of rumex crispus is contributed to the polyphenolic nature. They also found that the root extract of rumex crispus induced apoptosis of HT-29 cancer cells in a dose dependent manner. They are unsure of which signal pathway was involved in this though. The size and length of this study seems to be undetermined as the research states “Therefore, detailed chemical analyses to know the exact compounds of RERC which are responsible for these biological activities are underway by using HPLC or other advanced technologies.” (PubMed, 2012) This leads me to believe that they are continuing this study in order to gather more information and understanding. I am highly interested in how the continuing research will go when it comes to how the rumex crispus herb could potentially be beneficial in the treatment of cancer and being used for ant oxidative stress. I think a human study on individuals with cancer would be incredibly interesting to see the full potential of rumex crispus in that setting.

To conclude, there seems to be great potential in using the herb rumex crispus, also known as yellow dock, in the preventative and treatment settings for various diseases and ailments. Further studies on this herb can be found on NCBI PubMed and in various texts.


Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Marciano, M. (2015, September 14). Rumex Crispus. Retrieved from

PubMed. (2012, October 6). Carbohydrase inhibition and anti-cancerous and free radical scavenging properties along with DNA and protein protection ability of methanolic root extracts of Rumex crispus. Retrieved from

Shim KS , et al. (2017, October 26). Water extract of Rumex crispus prevents bone loss by inhibiting osteoclastogenesis and inducing osteoblast mineralization. - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved from

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