Sheep Sorrel


Also known as

Rumex acetosella, Common Sorrel, Garden Sorrel, Dock, and Red Sorrel


Sheep sorrel is widely regarded as a noxious weed with 45 of the fifty states reporting it as an intruder, but the small, creeping plant has a long-standing reputation as a medicinal herb. It has been used to treat diarrhea, cancer, fever and scurvy. While scientists are familiar with the effect of the various constituents, there have been no clinical trials to prove its efficacy in treating any of the named conditions. Sheep sorrel does have some culinary value as a garnish and a tart flavoring agent in salads and soups, and is one of the main ingredients in Chinese hot and sour soup. Its medicinal uses are not supported by research, though it is reported that the anthraquinones stimulate peristalsis and increase mucous production in the intestines, which may promote diarrhea rather than curing it. It is one of the main ingredients in the folk cancer cure commonly known as Essaic.


Glycosides: Hyperoside, quercitin-3d-galactoside, Anthraquinones: Emodin, aloe emodin, chrysophanol, rhein, physcion, Vitamins: A, B complex, C, D, E, K, Oxalates, tannins.

Parts Used 

All aerial parts.

Typical Preparations 

In tea, soup and chilled beverages. As an extract or capsule and commonly found in Essiac.


While many of the 'official' medical authorities are compelled to point out that the efficacy of sheep sorrel as a treatment for fever, scurvy, cancer and inflammation has not been proven by clinical trials, it is equally true that its efficacy has not been disclaimed. In fact, there have been no clinical trials on which to base any evidence at all other than anecdotal reports of its uses. Sorrel does make a wonderfully cooling beverage and soup, and its tart flavor is a perfect foil for hot and spicy herbs and seeds.

Precautions: Because sheep sorrel contains oxalic acid, it is recommended that it not be used in large amounts for extended periods of time as it can cause mineral deficiencies and liver damage. People with rheumatism, arthritis, gout or kidney stones should avoid sorrel as it can worsen their conditions. 


 For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Unless otherwise stated, this information courtesy of MOUNTAIN ROSE HERBS, with full, written permission for reuse.  For further traditional information concerning SHEEP SORREL , please visit this excellent resource  Used with full, written permission.