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Dock Roots

Dock Roots for an iron boosting tincture.

I normally dig my roots in Autumn when all of the plants energy returns to the roots in preparation for winter.

After digging the roots out with a big fork (they go deep!) I washed & scrubbed, chopped & covered in alcohol. I’ll shake daily for at least 6 weeks, but it will probably slowly infuse for 3-6 months before I strain and use as an Iron rich supplement.

There are many different types of dock, all from the rumex species. Herbalists have traditionally used Yellow & Red Dock Roots for their laxative properties, blood cleansing action, & high iron contents, especially when treating anaemia.

Yellow Dock is also known as Curly Dock or Rumex Crispus and is what I find most commonly in NZ.

Dock is related to sorrell, and has a similar, somewhat pungent flavor. It's not a leaf that I use often or raw, but a few young leaves thrown in with other pot herbs is always handy when you're making a meal entirely from foraged weeds from your lawn! Pick the youngest, tenderest leaves. The big old ones will be tough & bitter. Dock is rich in Vitamins A & C, Iron, Manganese & nickel.

I also have climbing dock taking over in the garden (much to my horror), & whilst I'm trying to stop it smothering my medicinal herb garden, I do enjoy eating the little pink/yellow flowers in salads alongside a few leaves. The flavor is intense.

Dock (like all rumex species & many common veges) does contain oxalates (oxalic acid). In theory you should limit your oxalate consumption as the oxalic acid can cause problems such as kidney stones forming. However before you freak out, bear in mind that spinach, rhubarb, beetroot, even tomatoes contain oxalates. The best advice for neutralising oxalic acid content in your food is to cook it (so no, those raw spinach leaves in plastic bags at the supermarket are not that great for your diet). In traditional cooking, foods containing oxalic acid were always cooked and eaten alongside dairy, which was said to improve digestion of the oxalic acid. My advice is to do your own research on this subject, cook your dock leaves, and eat in moderation.

And if you’re ever stung by stinging nettle, Dock leaves are a fantastic antidote. Just rub the fresh leaves onto the affected skin until the green juice comes out.