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Sorrel, Rumex acetosa

Sorrel, Rumex acetosa

Sorrel is a perennial herb that has been used around the world for centuries. There are a number of varieties that grow in different regions. Their characteristics vary but the benefits are similar.  It is a common plant in grassland habitats and is cultivated as a garden herb.

Family: Polygonaceae

Name:  It is also known a sheep sorrel, spinach dock, narrow leaved dock, and sour grabs because of its sharp, tart, sour taste.

Native: to Europe and North Asia. Sorrel is found from the northern Mediterranean coast to north of Scandinavia and in parts of Central Asia. It has also been introduced to North America.


The Sorrel plant has broad green spade shaped leaves, somewhat similar in appearance to Spinach. The roots stretch deep into the ground. The spindly flower blooms at the beginning of summer. Their reddish-green flowers turn purple after full bloom. The seeds are brown.

Although Sorrel is primarily grown for culinary use, it has an array of health benefits as well.

Culinary Uses:

Sorrel is commonly used as an ingredient in soups, salads, stews, vegetable dishes, and teas.

Due to its tart, tangy, lemony flavor it is an excellent complement for fish dishes, either as an ingredient in preparing the fish, or as a main ingredient in a pureed sauce.

Sorrel’s nutritional components are significant. Sorrel is high in fiber, has few calories, almost no fat, and a small amount of protein. It is rich in vitamin C and contains vitamins A, B6, and the minerals, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. It contains polyphenolic acids, flavonoids and anthocyanins.  Due to its strong antioxidants compounds, Sorrel is often used in tea formulations, including the well-known, Cancer treatment and detox, Essiac tea.

Note that Sorrel does contain a high amount of oxalic acid, which can be toxic, so consumption should be regulated. Also it should not be cooked in aluminum or cast iron pans, as that will react with the oxalic acid causing toxin and an undesirable metallic flavor.

Culinary Uses Around the World:

In northern Nigeria, Sorrel is used in stews, often with Spinach. In India, leaves are used in soups and curries made with yellow lentils and peanuts.  In Afghanistan, the leaves are coated with a batter and fried, to be served as an appetizer, or if in season to break the fast at Ramadan. In Eastern Europe Sorrel is used to make sour soups, stewed with vegetables or herbs, meats, or eggs. In rural Greece, it is used with Spinach, Leeks, and Chard in spanakopita.  In Albania, the leaves are simmered and served cold marinated in olive oil or as filling for byrek pies. In Armenia, the leaves are collected in spring, woven in to braids and dried for use during winter.

Health Benefits:

As part of the oxalis family and due to the organic compounds and anthocyanins, every system in the body is supported by Sorrel.

Aids digestion – Its fiber content improves gastrointestinal health and reduces constipation, diarrhea, bloating and cramping.

Regulates blood pressure - Its significant potassium level supports fluid balance throughout the body, thus reducing stress on the cardiovascular system by relaxing the blood vessels and arteries.

The fiber can also help to reduce total body cholesterol and thus protect heart health.

Improves Eyesight – Its vitamin A content combined with other antioxidants promotes good eye health and prevents age related macular degeneration.

Treats Skin conditions – The dried herb when eaten, shows a reduction in ringworm, eczema and itchy, dry skin. When fresh leaves are ground up, the extracted liquid can be applied topically to reduce rashes and irritation. It is also helpful in treating cold sores and fever blisters.

Supports Healthy Hair – Helps to reduce dryness and helps damaged hair. It also can help slow baldness.  

Helps to Heal Wounds – Its Anti-inflammatory properties support wound healing such as boils, ulcers, swelling, and it is used as an anti-dote for scorpion poison.

Strengthens Bones - High in calcium, when Sorrel added to the diet on a regular basis improvement in bone strength is noticeable.

Improves Energy - By improving blood circulation in the body, Sorrel boosts oxygen levels throughout the vital organs. As such, it helps to speeds up the healing process.

Helps Insomnia and Hypertension- Drink it as a tea with spices like cinnamon, cardamom and ginger, or heat the leaves with castor oil for a restful night’s sleep.

Boosts Immunity – Its vitamin C content increases the white blood cell count - the body’s first line of defense against pathogens.

Stabilizes blood sugar levels - and Improves Diabetes and Heart health.

Kidney Health is improved - due to the diuretic effect of Sorrel which cleans toxins from the Kidneys. Thus it is also beneficial for treating Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), Gonorrhea, and Hemorrhage.

Helps to Prevents Cancer – It is rich in antioxidants that protect the body from free radical damage. Its Chlorophyll content increases the supply of oxygen in the body, an environment in which cancer cells cannot survive.

Additional Precautions: Consuming high amounts of Sorrel can cause diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and liver disease.  However, eaten in balance it is an excellent food to stay healthy naturally.


Author, Eve Stahl, is a Health Consultant, Herbalist and Skin Care expert. She specializes in using nature’s plants to enhance the health of people and to protect the health of our planet. To achieve this purpose she has created Garden of Eve Skin Care products for sensitive skin and all skin types. You can visit her company at: www.gardenofeve.com Prospective Affiliates visit: www.gardenofeveskincare.com/affiliate-application

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