This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
MEDICINAL PART. The root.
Description. -- There are four varieties of Dock which may be used in medicine: the Rumex Aquaticus (Great Water Dock); and the R. Crispus, or Yellow Dock. They all possess similar medicinal qualities, but the Yellow Dock is the only one entitled to extensive consideration. It has a deep, spindle-shaped yellow root, with a stem two or three feet high. The leaves are lanceolate, acute, and of a light green color. The flowers are numerous, pale green, drooping, and interspersed with leaves below. The fruit is a nut contracted at each end.
History. -- The Docks are natives of Europe, excepting the blunt-leaved, which is indigenous, but they have all been introduced into the United States. Yellow Dock grows in cultivated grounds, waste grounds, about rubbish, etc., flowering in June and July. The root has scarcely any odor, but an astringent bitter taste, and yields its virtues to water and alcohol.
Properties and Uses. -- Yellow Dock is an alterative, tonic and detergent, and eminently useful in scorbutic, cutaneous, scrofulous, cancerous and syphilitic affections, leprosy, elephantiasis, etc. For all impurities of the blood it has no equal, especially if properly compounded with appropriate adjutants and corrigents. The fresh root bruised in cream, lard, or butter, forms a good ointment for various affections. The admirable alterative is one of the ingredients of my Blood Purifier (see page 469), in which it is associated with other eminent alteratives, making the compound worthy of the reputation it has achieved.