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.

Sheep sorrel is a flowering plant considered a perennial weed. It is native to Europe, Russia, the Middle East and North Africa as well as being prevalent in all parts of the United States. Sheep sorrel has been historically used to treat inflammation, scurvy, cancer, and diarrhea. It is also one of the four ingredients in Essiac, an alternative cancer treatment.

Scientific research has not been performed on sheep sorrel, but scientists are familiar with how some of the natural compounds found in this plant work. 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
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
  • To treat diarrhea
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
  • To reduce fever
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
  • To reduce inflammation
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
  • To treat scurvy
    Sheep sorrel contains vitamin C, which helps prevent scurvy, but there are no clinical data to support use.

Do Not Take If

  • You have a history of kidney stones: The oxalate content in sheep sorrel can contribute to kidney stone formation.
  • 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