Rumex crispus

Rumex crispus. Yellow Dock. Curly Dock. N.O. Polygonaceae.
CLASSIFICATION Rumex is a member of the Polygonaceae. See RHEUM.
GENUS Distributed throughout north temperate regions, the genus Rumex contains some 180 species of annual, biennial, and perennial herbs with simple to deeply lobed, typically basal leaves, and racemes or panicles of small wind-pollinated flowers that are followed by papery fruits. Several species are grown as ornamentals, some are invasive weeds, and some are eaten. The leaves of some species are traditionally rubbed on nettle stings. Many species of dock were introduced by the English into such countries as Australia and New Zealand, or got there accidentally, mixed up in bags of seeds. Charles Darwin had this to say about the distribution of docks: “The common dock is widely disseminated and will, I fear, for ever remain a proof of the rascality of an Englishman, who sold the seeds for those of the tobacco plant.” The lower-growing species of dock are also called sorrel.
SPECIES Native to Europe, the yellow dock has spread into fields and disturbed areas all over North America after its introduction in the US. This hardy perennial has a big taproot and a hardy basal rosette that overwinters by the ground. It is an important food plant for the caterpillars of many butterflies. The plant turns a rusty-red colour when mature. It has coarse leaves with waxy margins and grows up to 1 m high. The leaves of the flower stem hang down the sides and curl along their lengths. Having six sepals and no petals, the flowers are greenish and very small. The small fruits have three heart-shaped wings, each of which contains a red tubercle. Rich in vitamins A and C, the leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, preferably in early spring or in autumn. The roasted seeds have been used as a coffee substitute. The name Rumex comes from the Latin word for ‘lance’ or ‘dart’, referring to the shape of the leaves. It is named yellow dock because of the colour of the root.
CONSTITUENTS Anthraquinones [3-4%], mainly nepodin, emodin, chrysophanol, and physcion; tannins; oxalates; rumicin. Largely similar to those of Rheum, these compounds are responsible for the astringent, diuretic, and purgative properties of the plant.
MEDICINE Due to its effect on kidneys, liver, and intestines, its use has been recommended as an alterative [cleanser]. [Employment as a ‘blood purifier’ is by no means exclusive for Rumex crispus, but seems a general therapeutic characteristic of the genus, since it has been recorded for at least ten different species. Among these are the three species used in homoeopathy: R. acetosa, R. crispus, and R. obtusifolius.] In herbal medicine salves, poultices or compresses of Rumex are used in the treatment of eczema, hives, itchy skin, ringworm, and scabies. The roots are used internally for chronic skin diseases, jaundice, constipation [esp. associated with skin eruptions, in particular psoriasis], liver disorders, and anaemia. Eclectic practitioners once stressed the ability of the plant to absorb iron from the soil – hence its alleged usefulness in anaemia – but confirmation of iron in significant concentrations has not been found. King’s American Dispensatory gives the following specific indications and uses: “Bad blood with chronic skin diseases; bubonic swellings; low deposits in glands and cellular tissues, and tendency to indolent ulcers; feeble recuperative power; irritative, dry laryngo-tracheal cough; stubborn, dry, summer cough; chronic sore throat, with glandular enlargements and hypersecretion; nervous dyspepsia, with epigastric fullness and pain extending through left half of chest; cough with dyspnoea and sense of praecordial fullness.” American Indians used a root decoction of R. crispus to treat their own sores and saddle sores of their horses. The Chippewa Indians dried and powdered R. crispus root and applied it in a cloth poultice to itchy and eruptive skin. In New Mexico, the leaves mashed with salt are bound to the head to relieve headache. The Iroquois Indians include Rumex roots in a compound decoction to induce pregnancy. [This coincides with an old English belief recorded by William Coles in 1656: “The seeds of docke tyed to the left arme of a woman doe help Barrennesse.”] The Teton Dakotas bound the crushed green leaves to boils to bring suppuration. For haemorrhoids, gypsies boil the roots in water and take a glassful night and morning.
PROVINGS •• [1] Joslin – 10 provers [9 males, 1 female], 1845, 1850-52, 1856-59; method: tincture, 1x, 3x, 6x, 12x, or 30x, single dose or repeated doses, daily or at various intervals. Most provings were conducted with the tincture.
“There have been seventeen provings of Rumex by ten provers. Each of the provings, with few exceptions, occupied several weeks or several months, during which the drug was repeated at various intervals, and the system of the prover was usually in some degree under the influence of preceding doses. Those are regarded as separate provings which were commenced at least two months after Rumex had been taken. The mother tincture was extemporaneously diluted, the potencies generally used in the form of minute dry globules, in a few instances in water, always few in number.”1
•• [2] Houghton – self-experimentation, 1851; method: increasing doses of 1st dil. and tincture, repeated at various intervals.
[1] Joslin, Verified Symptoms of Rumex crispus; The American Homoeopathic Review, July 1859.
Mucous membranes [larynx; trachea; THROAT-PIT; bowels]. Nerves. Skin. Left side; chest. Joints. Ankles. * Left side. Right side.
Worse: COOL AIR [INHALING; open air; raw changes; change of room]. Uncovering. Night; early morning. Pressure; on trachea. Lying down. Lying down on left side. Undressing.
Better: Covering mouth. Wrapping up [head]. Warmth.
Main symptoms
G Extreme susceptibility to COLD AIR.
> Closing / covering mouth or covering head.
c Itching of skin from exposure to cool air [undressing, uncovering].
c Every cold affects the joints.
G < CHANGE of TEMPERATURE [from warm to cold or vice versa]. G < LYING. G DRY, SENSITIVE mucous membranes [burning, rawness]. G PROFUSE discharges [expectoration; early morning diarrhoea]. G < Meat [= pruritus, eructations]. P Eyes burn indoors; puffed in morning. P Roaring in left ear, as if a conch shell were held before it. And Sensation as if a fine thread were tied tightly around the neck just below the ears. P Nasal catarrh: thin, watery, copious mucous discharge. Followed by tough, tenacious, gluey mucus. • “Many times the coryza starts out by a marked DRYNESS in the posterior nares, so that he is constantly hawking.” [Kent] P Sudden, profuse, foul early morning diarrhoea [5-9 a.m.] AFTER CATARRH. P Left side of chest / cardiac region. • “The left chest has more verified symptoms than any other region; they are generally sharp pains. The other regions which afford a considerable and nearly equal number of symptoms as compared with each other, are – the head, stomach, abdomen and inferior extremities.”1 • “Dull pain in the region of the heart; attended by dull pain and heaviness in the left upper arm and particularly in the elbow.”2 • “Burning stinging pain in the left side near the heart; came on soon after lying down in bed; gradually moved up into the great pectoral muscle, about two inches above and to the left of the nipple, and continued for a long time; increased by a deep inspiration and by lying on the back or the right side; relieved by lying on the left side.”3 • “Sensation in the left chest as if the heart suddenly ceased beating; followed by a heavy throbbing through the chest; this symptom has been felt several times since the beginning of this proving.”4 P COUGH. < Touching throat-pit, lying on left side, change of air or room. > Covering mouth.
< Change in rhythm of respiration. • “[The cough] is induced or greatly aggravated by any irregularity of respiration, such as an inspiration of air a little colder than that previously inhaled; by irregularity of respiration, and motion of the larynx and trachea, such as are involved in the act of speech; and by external pressure upon the trachea, in the region of the supra-sternal fossa. … The cough occurs chiefly, or is much worse, in the evening after retiring, and at the time the membrane of the trachea is particularly sensitive to cold air, and to any irregularity in the flow of air over its surface; so that the patient often covers the head with the bed clothes to avoid the cold air of the apartment, and refuses to speak, or even to listen to conversation, lest his attention should be withdrawn from the supervision of his respiratory acts, which he performs with the most careful uniformity and deliberation, and all in the hope of preventing the distressing tickling and the harassing cough which would ensue from a neglect of these precautions.” [Dunham] Raw sensation in larynx or trachea from coughing. P Pain, rawness or burning, under LEFT CLAVICLE. As if air penetrated there. P Breath. • “Sensation of breathlessness, as if the air did not penetrate the chest, or like what is felt when falling or passing very rapidly through the air.”5 • “Stinging, burning pain in the back, between the scapulae, attended by a constant desire to take deep inspirations, with a sensation of dry heat in the middle of the chest.”6 P Voice / hearing. • “Sudden change of voice at the same hour on consecutive days, the first and second of the proving; it became suddenly hoarse at eleven at night, or else rose several notes in pitch at two in the afternoon.”7 • “Sensation as if the ears were obstructed, esp. the left one; the prover’s own voice [as well as the voices of others] sounds strangely to him, producing a kind of titillation in the ear and having a peculiar ringing, confusing sound, and yet the sense of hearing is as acute as ever; this symptom began six hours after the last dose, and continued eighteen hours.”8 P Itching [of skin of lower limbs]. < Undressing. > Warmth of bed.
• Payne, one of the provers, got the following notable symptoms from the crude tincture: “While undressing, and for some time after, considerable itching of the surface of the lower extremities.” This occurred several nights, when he says: “There is no appearance of an eruption until after irritating the skin by scratching, and then rather a diffused redness, which soon disappears. Frequent scratching of the surface has produced a number of little sores [which, however, readily heal] on the calves of the legs, and about the knees, esp. the posterior surfaces; the rash is not usually troublesome until after the surface is exposed to the air while undressing at night, or on getting up in the morning; the warmth of the bed soon relieves the itching.”9
[1] Joslin, Verified Symptoms of Rumex crispus; Am. Hom. Review, July 1859. [2-3] Provings of Rumex crispus by M.J. Rhees, M.D. ; Am. Hom. Review, Nov. 1859. [4-5] Provings of Rumex crispus by Drs. Bayard, Bowers, and Payne; Am. Hom. Review, Oct. 1859. [6] Rhees, ibid. [7] Joslin, ibid. [8] Rhees, ibid. [9] Payne, cited in Hale’s New Remedies.
Fear of misfortune [1]. Indifference to the surroundings [1].
Congestion from coffee [2]. Uncovering head < [2]. Nose Sensitive to cold air [1], to inhaled air [1]. Epistaxis when sneezing [1]. Picking nose, constant desire [1]. Sneezing, at night [2], sudden [1], from a slight change of temperature [1/1]. Sudden, sharp tingling, followed by sneezing [2/1]. Throat Sensation of a lump, returns after swallowing [2]. External throat Uncovering throat < [2]. Stomach Emptiness, < talking [2/1]. Eructations, after meat [1]. Female Abortion, from cough [2]. Larynx Pain, larynx, on bending head backward [2], while talking [1], on touch [1]. Voice, changeable [1]; higher [2]; hoarseness, from cold wet weather [2]; lost, from exposure to cold [2]. Respiration Asthmatic, from a slight change of temperature [1]. Cough Covering mouth > [1/1]. When lying on left side [2], > turning to right side [2].
Sensation as if heart had ceased to beat [2]. Pain, heart, when lying on back [1], could only lie on left side [1; Ars-met.]. Palpitation, when talking [1].
Coldness, hands, during cough [1; Sulph.].
Dead bodies returning to life [1/1]. Mad dogs [1]. Nakedness [1].
Eruptions, itching, < cold air [2], > heat of stove [2; Tub.]. Itching, after eating meat [1; Ruta], < undressing [3], > on becoming warm [1; Petr.].
Aversion: [2]: Fruit.
Worse: [2]: Fruit. [1]: Apples; bananas; coffee; cold food; frozen food; tea.

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