Derived from the aerial parts of the plant, Sheep sorrel historically has been used to treat inflammation, scurvy, cancer, and diarrhea. The major constituents include anthraquinones, oxalates, and various vitamins (1). Consumption of large doses may result in diarrhea from the anthraquinones and renal and liver damage from the oxalate content (2). Sheep sorrell is one of the four ingredients in Essiac (1).
There are no published trials evaluating the efficacy of sheep sorrel for any proposed claims.
- Cancer treatment
- Glycosides: Hyperoside, quercitin-3d-galactoside
- Anthraquinones: Emodin, aloe emodin, chrysophanol, rhein, physcion
- Vitamins: A, B complex, C, D, E, K
- Other: Oxalates, tannins
Mechanism of Action
The anthraquinones, including emodin, rhein, and physcion, stimulate peristalsis and increase the secretion of mucous and water into the intestine. They are also considered to be antioxidants and free radical scavengers.
Patients with history of kidney stones should not consume this herb.
Reported: Gastroenteritis, abdominal cramps, diarrhea leading to possible hypokalemia, renal and liver damage have been reported.
Diuretics: Potassium loss due to stimulant laxative effect can increase potential risk for hypokalemia.
Herb Lab Interactions
Anthraquinones can cause discoloration of the urine interfering with urinalysis.
Literature Summary and Critique
No clinical trials have been conducted to evaluate the efficacy of sheep sorrel for any proposed claims.