Sheep Sorrel
Sheep Sorrel
This information describes the common uses of Sheep Sorrel, how it works, and its possible side effects.

Common Name

Sorrel, Dock

How It Works

There is no evidence that sheep sorrel can treat cancer, diarrhea, scurvy, or any other medical condition.

No scientific research has been performed with sheep sorrel, but scientists are familiar with how some of the natural compounds found in this plant work. The anthraquinones stimulate peristalsis in the gastrointestinal tract and increase the secretion of mucous and water into the intestine. This can cause a laxative effect. These compounds are also considered to be antioxidants and therefore may be able to neutralize free radicals, which can cause cellular and DNA damage in the body.

Purported Uses

  • To treat cancer
    No scientific evidence supports this use.
  • To treat diarrhea
    There are no data to back this claim.
  • To reduce fever
    No scientific evidence supports this use.
  • To reduce inflammation
    This use is not supported by research.
  • To treat scurvy
    Sheep sorrel contains vitamin C, which helps prevent scurvy, but there are no human data.

Patient Warnings

  • Large doses of sheep sorrel may result in diarrhea, and cause kidney and liver damage.

Do Not Take If

  • You have a history of kidney stones
  • You are taking diuretics: Most diuretics cause potassium loss from the body, which can be increased by the laxative effect of sheep sorrel. This increases the risk of hypokalemia, or dangerously low blood potassium levels.

Side Effects

  • Upset stomach
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea, possibly leading to dangerously low blood potassium levels
  • Kidney and liver damage

Special Point

  • Sheep sorrel is one of the four ingredients in Essiac.
  • Anthraquinones can cause discoloration of the urine interfering with urinalysis.