Red Dock or Canaigre, Rumex hymenosepalus, first comes up in the springtime, starting in February in The American Southwest. It is a desert or arid loving plant. It can be found usually in sandy washes or arroyos (dried stream beds).
It grows in abundance from the deep arroyos of the Colorado Desert to the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, from sea level to 8,000 feet, although most frequently in dry, sandy soil from around 3,000 t0 6,000 feet. The best plants for medicine seem to be around 3,000 to 5,000 feet. Best gathered in early spring.
The part of the plant we use are the roots. These potato like tubers are rich in tannic acid, sometimes up to 40% tannic acid. Making these tubers, one of our finest heavy astringents.
I will prepare Red Dock roots as medicine several different ways -
1. Fresh plant extract - 1: 2 ratio, using 60% alcohol, 30% water and 10% glycerine.
2. Dry plant extract - 1:5 ratio, using 50% alcohol, 10% glycerine, 40% water.
(In both extracts, I use a little glycerine to keep the tannic acid in solution. Sometimes if you do not use glycerine the extract will get cloudy and tannins will fall out to the bottom of your extract jar).
3. I keep some dry slices on hand for tea, washes, sitz baths, foot washes, gargles, etc.
4. I keep dry powder of Red Dock roots on hand at all times in my first aid kit for one of the finest hemostatic plant medicines around. Stops bleeding of wounds pretty quick!
Dry Slices of Red Dock Roots are useful to put into teas, washes, etc.
I like to keep a fair amount of Red Dock powder on hand! This can be added to washes, teas, salve making, and used topically to slow or stop heavy bleeding. The tannic acid shrinks and tightens capillary action. So when your capillaries are bleeding, this powder sprinkled on will quickly shrink them closed.
I grind my dried root slices in a small spice/coffee grinder and then sift the powder through a strainer. Making sure all powder is as uniform in size as possible.
I like to classify my herbal astringents as LIGHT, MEDIUM, and HEAVY Astringents. This helps me to understand their uses.
LIGHT ASTRINGENT is like Rose Petals. You can use a tea of Rose Petals, for delicate tissue, like the eyes or babies bottoms, for drying, cooling, astringent like effects that are gentle. You can use light astringents for longer periods of time or for several days, without concerning yourself about over tightening of the tissue.
MEDIUM ASTRINGENT - Like Raspberry leaf, it is stronger than the light category, but still fairly safe to use for many days in a row without being too astringent to the skin or internally irritating. Drinking several cups of Raspberry leaf tea a day can help to slow down secretions or slow excess bleeding, like from a heavy menstrual cycle. Once your medical mission is accomplished, even with Medium Astringents you should reduce the amount being used to avoid over astringency of the tissue.
HEAVY ASTRINGENT - RED DOCK and OAK BARK are two heavy astringents that come to mind. Heavy astringents are used to create a lot of change in a short period of time. I use Red Dock Roots in formulas to really shrink, tighten, or slow, or stop fluids altogether. Example of how powerful a heavy astringent is look at bleeding. You are bleeding, it may even be a fair amount of blood coming from a severe cut, when applying Red Dock powder to the hemorrhaging cut, it will stop the bleeding within in seconds - That is an example of the power of a heavy astringent. It works strong and it works quickly to stop fluids, shrink tissue, decrease discharges, etc.
Another good example of using a Heavy Astringent, like Red Dock, would be in severe dysentery or diarrhea. After several days of diarrhea, when all other herbs have failed, try some Red Dock Root tea, or some of the powder (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of powder per cup) and drink this down. You excessive discharge will almost come to a complete stop. Sometimes it takes a couple of treatments, but it could be life saving.
Years ago, I introduced Red Dock to a large company in Europe, one that makes medicines for less developed countries. Children's Dysentery is the third largest killer amongst children in developing nations. Since then, this company now uses Red Dock Root (in powder form) in a tablet that they use all over the world for treating dysentery.
Some uses for Red Dock might include:
Shrinking hemorrhoids - In salve form.
Excessive menstrual bleeding - extract or tea.
Mouth rinse with salt water, for bleeding gums and tooth abscess.
Dysentery or diarrhea, extract, root powder in water, or tea.
Topically to stop excessive bleeding.
Hayfever or allergy suffering where there is excessive discharge from nose.
Drying up lung excessive secretions from an infection.
Topically for treating venomous creature bites and sting, especially when combined with Prickly Pear Pad treatments.
Topical wash for 1st and 2nd degree burns. Excellent as a wash for sunburns.
Red Dock is an extremely useful plant medicine, and in my First Aid Kit it is one of THE most used of medicines in my kit! Superb remedy!
An amazing plant medicine astringent!
The beautiful colors of The Red Dock Roots!