Podcast 210: Herbs A-Z: Rumex & Rosa
Snow-delayed by a couple days, here’s our next episode! Today we’re talking about yellow dock and rose.
Yellow dock (Rumex crispus) is also known as curly dock. We also like to work with broadleaf dock (R. obtusifolius) in all the same ways. These herbs can be tinctured or prepared as decoctions. They’re great help for constipation, and if you prepare it right, they can help some chronic diarrhea also. Docks can help skin issues because of the improvements they yield in digestive function and nutrient absorption; they’re classic herbs for working on the gut-skin axis.
Roses (Rosa spp.) of many kinds are excellent for herbal remedies, though we do avoid Valentine’s roses since they’re usually heavily treated. The hips, flowers, leaves, and roots of rose all have medicinal attributes to offer. Are they “just another rose family astringent”, or something more? To us, the answer is simple: just smell it and you’ll know!
Our Integumentary Health course features both yellow dock and rose, along with an array of other herbs who help the skin: burdock and calendula, of course, but also turmeric and echinacea, among others. Whatever the problem is – whether we call it eczema, psoriasis, or just “that troublesome patch of skin”, herbs can help! Topical applications for common herbs play a big role in this work, and we also dig into the effective herbs you can take orally to see results on the skin. Like all our offerings, this is a self-paced online video course, which comes with free access to twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, twice-weekly live Q&A sessions with us, open discussion threads integrated in each lesson, an active student community, study guides, quizzes & capstone assignments, and more!
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Hi, I’m Katja.
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Yeah. Today our podcast topic is going to be the herbs yellow dock and rose. And Rumex and Rosa in the botanical Latin.
Two herbs that…
No, they’re not going to be the same. They’re not going to have a connection.
No, there’s really no connection. I mean, they both have some astringency.
Except there sort of is one that we’re going to reveal later. Ha ha. So, stay tuned for the mystery will be resolved, mua-ha. Yes, that’s what we’re going to talk about. But before we get to that, I want to just remind you, as we did a couple weeks ago, that if you want to ask us questions, you don’t have to wait for us to figure out what Reddit is and do an AMA. Instead you can simply enroll yourself in one of our courses. Any of our courses or programs, if you’re in for the long haul, but including even our free courses such as Four Keys to Holistic Herbalism and Herbal Study Tips.
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It’s the place for you. All right. One more thing before we start. The reclaimer, where we remind you that we are not doctors. We are herbalist and holistic health educators.
The ideas discussed in this podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses herbalists in the United States. So, these discussions are for educational purposes only.
We want to remind you that good health doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. Good health doesn’t exist as an objective standard. It’s influenced by your individual needs, experiences, and goals. So, keep in mind that we’re not attempting to present a single dogmatic right way that you must adhere to.
Everybody’s body is different. So, the things that we’re talking about may or may not apply directly to you. But we hope that they’ll give you some good information to think about and some ideas to research further.
Finding your way to better health is both your rights and your own personal responsibility. This doesn’t mean you’re alone on the journey. And it doesn’t mean you’re to blame for your current state of health. But it does mean that the final decision when you’re considering any course of action discussed on the internet or prescribed by a physician is always your choice to make. Yeah. All right then. Let’s talk about yellow dock.
Rumex crispus, yellow dock, sometimes called curly dock because of the leaves. Because they’re curly. This is the yellow dock leaf.
Yellow Dock & Its Actions
Or kelp. Actually there’s a lot of similarity in the two leaves. But in New England, the old New England name for yellow dock was curly dock. And you don’t see that as much in the rest of the country. But I kind of think we should call it curly dock, because you can’t see the yellow part of yellow dock. There is a yellow part. It’s the root. It’s under the ground. You can’t see it.
And inside the root. The outside is brown.
Yeah, yeah. It’s inside the root.
And then it’s yellow inside. Yeah.
Yeah, but the curly leaves. Like seriously, remember tuxedos in the 1970s with the ruffly shirts? If you imagine those ruffly shirts, that’s what yellow dock leaves look like. It just looks like somebody took one row of ruffles and made it into a leaf. And another row of ruffles, and that’s the next leaf. There are these long curly, but not curly like it spirals in on itself like a fern when it opens. But curly, like the edges are literally ruffled. Yeah, they’re undulating.
Maybe it should be undulating dock.
We’re going to talk about concurrently another species called Rumex obtusifolius. And that one is referred to as broad-leaved dock.
The dock under whose leaves you can hide.
You will be obscured under there?
You will be obscured under the leaves.
I see that. Yeah. Or if you eat the leaves of this, you’ll become obtuse like the warden in the Shawshank Redemption. He got really mad when the guy called him obtuse.
Okay. I don’t know. This reference is obtuse. I don’t know.
Yeah, you’re right. Completely accurate, yes. Completely fair. I deserve my sentence, okay. Because of my sentence… okay, never mind.
The sentence for your sentence. Yeah, okay.
So this is a closely related species of Rumex, and we treat them as the same. The leaves are different in shape, but the medicinal activity of the roots is equivalent. So, we work with both of them.
I would say that maybe obtusifolius is a smidge milder. But I don’t actually know if I would say that because it’s true, or if I would say that because I’m biased towards the curly dock. It is possible that I am saying that from bias and not from actual objective truth. And so what that means is that this summer I need to make a new broad-leaved dock root tincture. And then make the two bottles not labeled. And then swirl them around a lot. And then you can give me one of them, and I’ll take that for a while. And then you can we’ll wait, have like a washout period. And then give me the other one and take that for a while. And then we’ll know for sure if they really are equivalent, and I’m just biased. Or if it really is true that the curly dock is just a smidge stronger.
Yeah. Inquiring minds want to confirm their priors or not.
Or update them. Yeah.
Or update priors. Yeah, exactly.
Nice. Yeah, totally. Well, you know, yellow dock is interesting because we both have reason to work with this on occasion, despite our kind of pretty variant constitutions. This herb has got a cooling effect to it. It’s kind of in that cooling group with the classic bitters. It has that type of activity, draining heat, especially from the digestive system out of you. Rumex has a drying impact on the system.
And yet as you’re talking, I’m like man, yellow dock kind of does it all.
It’s complicated, because of the astringency with some sort of relaxing qualities. Although, whether that’s exactly the right word for it is… Like this word laxative is going to come up today, but not all laxatives induce that effect through relaxation of the tight tissues that are clamped down too much. This one, it’s got a mix of effects honestly.
We’re kind of going to get to that laxative effect through astringency, which is kind of weird. But you were also talking about dryness, and it is drying. And yet it stimulates the release of bile, which is locally moistening.
Yeah. Plus, if you were having a lot of trouble in terms of your dryness versus moisture slider, because you were having poor absorption and retention of lipids. Then you could work with a bitter, mucosally astringent herb like this, and you could still see improvements in your oil hydration status, right? This is kind of similar to what happens with burdock in a similar way, where the herb itself is drying. And if we just have you shoot shots of tincture all the time, you’re going to get dried out. But with the right dosing, with the right preparation, and most importantly with the right dietary pattern to go along with it, we can see this improvement in fat absorption and utilization in the body. And that could counteract that type of the dryness complex.
Energetically Complex with a Laxative Effect
Yeah. So, energetically, this herb is… I was about to say complex and simultaneously I was going to say straightforward. And I think that’s just yellow dock right there actually. It’s not like this is a difficult herb to understand in terms of you’re just starting out. You want to work with this plant. Oh, it’s a safe laxative. It’s non-habit forming. Fantastic. But once you start to really get into the mechanism of action and the energetics of the plant, then suddenly you start to realize like wow. There is just a lot going on here. And a lot of it is very contradictory, but also makes a lot of sense. And so maybe we can go back to how I said it gets to the laxative effect through astringency. And so you could just take some yellow dock. And you would be like whoa, I took some yellow dock, and then I had a bowel movement. Fantastic. I really needed to poop. And that would be kind of like the end of what you thought about it, and it would be fine. But then when you started to think like wait. They said it was non-habit forming. How can it be non-habit forming, because other laxatives I’ve tried are habit forming. I do get dependent on them in order to be able to poop. And the reason is because what’s going on with the yellow dock is that you have muscles in the colon – especially in the lower colon – that help you push your poop out. And they literally are kind of squeezing in actually an undulating sort of fashion.
Just like the undulating waves of the edge of the leaf margin. Okay. That’s some serious doctrine of signature context.
Really? It is.
But I’m here for it. Let’s go.
And so, you know, moving the poop down. Kind of like if you’ve got a toothpaste tube that has a bunch of toothpaste, because you were squeezing only in the middle. And now the bottom half of the toothpaste tube is empty, but up at the top part there’s still a big lump of it. And now you have to squeeze it down, squeeze it down, squeeze it down to get the toothpaste. Okay. You have muscles in your colon that do the same thing to get the poop out of you. And those muscles, like literally every other muscle in your body, sometimes they’re a little floppy. Like if you don’t do much with your muscles, then your muscles are not super strong. They’re not always there when you need them. You want to pick up the heavy box, and you’re like I have spaghetti arms. Okay, well you can have spaghetti muscles in your colon. These are muscles that perform peristalsis. And so you need sometimes to tone them up a little bit. And you can’t take these muscles to the gym exactly. Kind of you can. Go for a walk. But especially if you’re a person who maybe has been drinking a lot of coffee or other stimulating laxatives, they have a different mechanism of action. And those peristaltic muscles don’t really need to be involved. And so they just sort of lay back and relax.
And now you’re trying to poop without coffee, and they’re not really doing the job. Okay, now we’re back to that astringent action. It is astringing in a way that stimulates the action of those peristaltic muscles, the poop squeezing muscles, so that they remember that they can get off the metaphorical couch and do their job when you need to go. And then combining with the also extra release of bile, which is a lubricating factor – This is such a glamorous episode of the podcast – so that it makes it easier for your poop to slide out. I can’t believe this. So, it’s like the twofold action that just makes all this stuff work. But what’s happening is a stimulation of what was supposed to be happening in your body. It is like a return to proper function. And it is a type of function that can be hampered by things like caffeine or coffee in particular.
Yeah. In terms of constituents that contribute to this activity. The major ones are called anthraquinones or anthraquinone glycosides. And they’re found here in yellow dock, but there’s a little touch of them in coffee. There’s a lot of them in herbs like senna and cascara sagrada. And in those two… Actually, even in aloe latex. Not the gel part, but like the yellow grainy bit that’s in that layer. All of them have that effect of triggering that intestinal peristalsis or causing that reaction. Those stronger stimulant laxatives, the aloe latex, the senna, cascara sagrada, they have high concentrations of these constituents. So much so that if you start taking them, and your body gets dependent on them to make those muscular waves move. And then you take away that herb, then your muscles might not respond very well. And you’re kind of dependent on that laxative herbal product or tea or capsule or whatever. With yellow dock that doesn’t tend to happen, because it has this lower concentration of them, but then also because it has that bitter element to it. And I think this is important. Because some people have proposed that with yellow dock, those anthraquinones, those are going to be degraded or reduced as the herb dries. But I can tell you for sure that you can make a yellow dock tincture or a decoction from dried plant, and you can still get a laxative effect from it. I think it’s fair to say that if we compare a dried plant tincture on the one hand versus a fresh plant tincture. And they’re otherwise made in the same way. Then probably the fresh plant is going to have a greater effect as a laxative. But the herb isn’t reliant only on one type of chemical to do that. Just the fact that it has bitter tasting chemistry in it, aside from the anthraquinones, that helps it to get that bile effect and move things along.
Yeah. It’s kind of funny, but the poop assistance is happening the moment you taste it. It’s just all one tube. It’s got a lot of wiggles and squiggles along the way, but it is all one tube. And the moment that you put the yellow dock in your mouth and taste it, already that bitter flavor is kicking off processes in your body that’s going to make it easier at the very other end of the tube.
Yeah. Pretty cool. So, you know, that’s great. But let’s take just a minute and say why would anybody want to spend 15 minutes talking about laxatives?
Goldilocks Poop & Astringency
Oh, because most people have trouble pooping.
Oh, totally. Yeah.
It is like the number one thing you deal with as an herbalist. Even if you deal with lots of really hard complicated stuff and whatever, you’re still going to deal with people can’t poop.
Yeah. And for tons of reasons. Like I’m traveling, and I’m stressed out. And I’m dehydrated. Okay. Yellow dock will help with that pretty rapidly. It’s a really good thing to keep in a travel kit or any kind of first aid kit. It could happen because of certain drug interactions, like side effects that people get. And we’re going to investigate those one-to-one. But in most cases yellow dock is still going to be a safe herb to work with. You took this drug. It gives you constipation. It’s usually going to be safe to add some yellow dock into your life and get a bit of relief there. So, that’s really handy. But also, we don’t want even what some people regard as normal, and what we would regard as constipation, to go on for very long, by which I mean like years, you know?
Right, and what you mean by normal is like frequency, right? So, some people think that they’re not constipated. And they think that they poop a normal amount. And what that definition is for them is once every two to three days.
Yeah. And according to some of the medical definitions of constipation, you’re still in that zone. You’re still not over that line yet. I think for some definitions it’s like if you poop more than once every three days, then you’re not constipated.
Other definitions say that if you poop less than once a day, you are constipated.
Right. I think that’s closer to where we would land.
Yeah. And then how do you decide what’s the right amount to poop? Well, I personally think that twice a day is…
I think that’s the Goldilocks amount. That’s what feels good in my body. But also, I think it’s like a nice frequency. If you’re pooping more than twice a day, then at that point it’s kind of like inefficient. Less than twice a day and you start to have that feeling of like kind of being bloated and not exactly… Like stuff just isn’t moving. So, my personal assessment is that twice a day is kind of the good amount, the goldilocks amount to poop. But yeah, lots of people think that once every two or three days is normal, because that’s what they’ve experienced all their lives.
And the reason we would be wanting to make a change there is that this is actually a source of toxicity. Now we’re pretty cautious about talking about toxins and toxicity and detox and all of that. We have a whole framework for understanding these ideas. But in this case, what we’re saying is that if your poop hangs around in your body for longer than it really should, then it’s going to cause some irritation to your gut lining. If you have leaky gut going on at the same time, this is a pathway for poorly digested food or for microbes or even pathogens to have an easier chance of passing through the intestinal lining and getting up into your liver or into circulation. Now that’s more work for your immune system to do. It’s a load on your system. So, we don’t want to just deal with constipation by putting up with it. We want to make sure that we’re not retaining waste products any longer than we have to. It does become extra work for your system to cope with.
Right. Like the definition of toxin in the body is not necessarily some kind of poison. It is just trash. It’s something that you’re going to have to remove. And so yes, that could be pesticides. But it also could be just dirty dishes, like the metaphorical dirty dishes. There’s nothing poisonous about dirty dishes. You just have to wash them if you want to make dinner again tomorrow. Like at some point you do in fact have to clean up. And so that sort of spectrum of toxin exists in the human body. Some of the stuff, yeah, some of it is weird chemicals from the outside world. But the much larger percentage is just the trash that you make through the course of every day of being alive. And poop is one of those.
Yeah. Okay. So, there’s this like eliminative effect with yellow dock. One interesting thing… oh, go ahead.
I wanted to say one other thing about the laxative effect. And that is because it is not like coffee or cascara sagrada or senna. Because it is not as strong and like cathartic as those. It does take a little longer to work for some people. So, depending on how fast your own metabolism is and your own body, you might take a dose of yellow dock in the evening. And then in the morning you have a nice bowel movement. Somebody else who has a really fast-moving system, they might take a dose of yellow dock and 15 minutes later be going to the bathroom. So, it is kind of important to know your body and set your expectations that way. And if you know that your body is slow moving, that’s fine. There’s nothing really wrong with that. But expect the bowel movement to happen after 8 to 10 hours. Maybe you take a little bit larger dose. If you know that your body is normally quite fast, but you’re just dehydrated because you’re traveling or something like that. Maybe take a slightly lower dose and expect it to work faster.
Yeah. Building on that astringent quality of the yellow dock and how that can kind of modulate these effects. There are certain ways that you can prepare yellow dock that can help with chronic diarrhea, particularly where that’s coming from mucous membrane laxity in the colon and just straight up too much water falling out and moving through. But this would not be a time to go with a fresh yellow dock tincture. This would be a time to go with a decoction of dried yellow dock, because that will draw out more of the tannins and more of that astringency. Put that into you. That’ll go down. That’ll tighten up those mucous membranes a little bit. It will still stimulate your liver and get the bile moving. But this other effect can kind of become more dominant. And so it can be helpful for people who have that as a chronic problem.
An Untasty Aid to Iron Absorption
And it’s actually perfect for people who have chronic diarrhea. Now I’m not talking about you had some bad sushi or something like that. So, this is like a person who just tends towards diarrhea when they get stressed out or just kind of like if anything is just out of balance. A lot of things you could take to correct for that are going to just be straight astringents. And it’s very easy to overcorrect in that sort of situation. You take a straight astringent. You just keep taking it until you stop having diarrhea. And then you’re like oops, now I’m too dried out. Whereas when you’re working this way with yellow dock. And again, it does need to be a decoction. And what he failed to mention is that it really doesn’t taste very good.
It’s not the easiest thing to cover over. Sometimes it’s like well, throw some chai spices in there. You’ll be fine. I don’t know. Yellow dock chai might not be the best.
No. You could maybe put a little ginger in there. But honestly, I wouldn’t try. I know I say that with a lot of things that don’t taste good. But I kind of really mean it with yellow dock. It’s not like you’re going to puke. It’s just that it doesn’t taste awesome.
It’s muddy for sure. It’s a muddy flavor.
But again, the reason for the decoction is because more of the astringents are extracted into water. But you’re still getting that bitter action. You’re still getting all of the other factors. So, it’s like you’re not shutting down the system, you’re just slowing down the system. It’s a much more nuanced response. So that you’re not going to set up a situation where great, I don’t have diarrhea now. But now I can’t poop at all.
Yeah. I figured it out. What you do is… Well no, wait. That won’t work either. I was going to say you put it together with cacao and do like a chocolate thing. And that would be okay.
That would not taste good.
Because the yellow dock by itself, it’s not chocolate, but it’s almost that. And maybe it’s just because of the color. But now, okay, never mind. But the reason it’s not going to work for the diarrhea person is that if you throw in enough cacao to cope with the flavor of the yellow dock, now you’re going to have those laxative actions. Yeah.
Yeah, no, that won’t work.
It’s going to be too stimulating, yeah.
Plus – I don’t know – we need that bitter part. It is serving a legitimate function. Sometimes an herb is bitter and you’re like, ah, that’s not awesome. I’ll just cover that up. But okay. But the bitter is actually always serving a legitimate function. It’s just sometimes you can get away without it. But in this case, we really need it. We really need it.
Yeah. Muddy, earthy, you know. And part of that is mineral content, and part of that is iron content. But whenever we start talking about the iron content of yellow dock… And if you’re all brand new to herbalism, then you might be like well, that came out of left field. But any monograph about this plant, and we’re kind of replicating some of it here, is going to talk about laxative effects. We’re trying to add the nuance about the way that you prepare it, and how you work with it, and how sometimes for diarrhea it can help too. Okay, we’re trying to add that layer. And then you’ll, the other thing you’ll see about yellow dock every time is that it can help with iron, and that it can boost up iron status. And that’s true, yes. But we want to think about how that happens. Because some places they report it. And it’s like well, it must be because it’s rich in iron. And you know what? That’s not entirely wrong either. Because if you look at the plant as it goes through its stages of life, it literally rusts in the autumn. It turns an exact rust red color. Some of that is because of iron content in the plant, in the straw parts, the aerial parts of it, and the leaves as well.
The seed pods have it too.
Yep. And so it is there. But here’s something that you can get from empirical observation, which is that yellow dock can help to improve iron status even if it’s given as a tincture. And if we’re talking about giving tincture, we are not talking about that substance itself being such a rich source of iron or any other mineral that it’s boosting up your levels in a nutritive way. Why? Because you’re not drinking a quart of yellow dock tincture every day. And there’s just not enough room in a squirt of yellow dock or even a tablespoon of yellow dock tincture to have all the mineral content that you would need to see the improvements that we can observe in someone’s iron levels.
Even if minerals extracted really awesomely into tincture, which they also don’t. There’s not none of them there. It’s just not a super efficient extraction medium. And then on top of it, you’re taking so little of it.
Yeah. Now, if you wanted to take…
It’s like micro dosing your iron.
Yeah. If you wanted to take yellow dock as a nutritive for the iron content, you would go ahead and get the roots, and you would decoct them. But then we go back to the taste problem and also the effect of that much bitter decoction on your digestive system. It is going to get overstimulated or irritated for a lot of people, you know?
Yeah. If you’re looking for minerals, nettle is going to be better for that.
But one sort of way to thread the needle here is to make a yellow dock molasses syrup. Where you take that yellow dock decoction, and you cook it down. And then you mix in an equal amount of molasses. And now you end up with a syrup. You have to keep it in the fridge. It’s not going to be shelf stable.
You probably need to make it fresh like every week or so.
But you can take a couple spoonfuls of that at a time. And there what’s happening is that the molasses was the mineral rich substance. And the yellow dock is there to improve your absorption. Kind of what we said about the oil effect, right? Yellow dock, it’s not like it provides your body with essential fatty acids, but it helps you absorb them and put them where they go. Mm-hmm.
This is particularly important because in the context of molasses, plant-based iron is very difficult for your body to absorb. The human body prefers iron from red meat. It prefers animal sources of iron. They are slightly different molecularly. And that difference makes it hard to absorb iron from plants, even plants that have iron in them. Of course, even plants that have iron in them have drastically less than a hamburger. So, if you’re really looking to improve your iron status, then a hamburger is the way to go.
But, you know, take yellow dock tincture before the meal.
That would be the best way to do it.
Right. And so whenever you’re going to have plant sources of iron, they’re just not easy for the body to take in. And so pairing that up with yellow dock makes it a lot easier for you to absorb those sources. You know, it’s funny because iron absorption and iron activity in the body is a super complex topic that is in fact well understood. It’s just super complex. But in the Holistic Nutrition course there is a ton of information about that that really boils down the differences in absorption between plant and animal sources of iron and how to kind of optimize iron absorption in different ways. So, if this is a topic that you really want to get nerdy about, you can find more there. But for the short version yes, yellow dock will help you, especially with those plant sources.
Alterative for the Gut-Skin Axis
Yeah. You know, the effects of all of the things we’ve talked about here so far, right? We have like enhancing some nutrient absorption. We have enhancing some waste elimination. Stimulating the liver and that kind of activity, other digestive organs. And so this is one of our classic alterative herbs, right? And I feel like in the last few of our A-to-Z episodes, we’ve talked about alteratives. And how it’s this idea that we can improve the quality of the blood, and the lymph, and the circulating fluids in the body through enhancing your nutritive intake or your absorption or utilization of those nutrients, circulation of them through the body, elimination of wastes from the system. That all of those are part of a complex that we can identify under that umbrella term alterative. Yellow dock is a classic alterative if you ask anybody. And we can understand why, because it sort of gets you on like two of those critical points, right? Not so much about circulation, but for sure absorption of nutrients, elimination of wastes. This is a great herb. And so that kind of leads us to some of the other traditional indicators for yellow dock, like eruptions on the skin, acne, boils, pustules. And what’s some of those older words for these kinds of things, like wains or…
Oh, those are older words. I was going to say… No, your words are better.
Yeah. All kinds of different things. If it’s on your finger, it’s a felon. I don’t know what that one’s about, but yeah. So, eruptive problems like that, today maybe we label it psoriasis, or eczema, or something else like that.
Yeah. It’s not that in history times they weren’t smart enough to observe that psoriasis and eczema look. And that a rash and boils and whatever else, that all these things look different. It’s just that they had different names for them. Sometimes the names are pretty funny. But just because we call psoriasis that today doesn’t mean that people didn’t know what it was a long time ago.
Yeah. So, this is an herb. And it’s not so much that the herb chemistry moves up to your skin and acts there. Or like the constituents of the herb are like floating up to your skin cells and making them behave differently or affecting your nerves or whatever. This is just the gut-skin axis. This is just the connections between what’s going on in the middle of your tube and on the outside of your surface area.
Yeah. It’s all the same kind of cell. But also, the other part of that axis is the liver too. It’s like improved skin is the direct result of improved liver function. It is also the direct result of better nutrition. It’s the direct result of better sleep. I
Right. And this is why it’s not like okay, you take anybody with eruptive skin problems. And you give them yellow dock, and it all goes away, right? If your diet is coming from McDonald’s and from wherever, then you might see some more eliminations on the skin. We don’t see that too often with yellow dock or burdock by comparison. But sometimes a person with a bad reaction to a drug, sometimes that causes skin expressions. And then you go, and you take one of these gut-skin axis herbs, and for a while at least that gets even worse.
Yeah. And the reason for that, it’s not like herxing or whatever. And it’s not even like oh, well it should be getting worse before it gets better.
The healing crisis.
Yeah. No, please no, not that. But it is simply a matter of your skin is a pathway of elimination. And especially if your liver is bogged down, and your kidneys are bogged down, and your guts are bogged down, then your lungs and your skin are going to try really hard to pick up the slack. All of the parts of your body have to live together in community in order for your body to function. And so they want to try to pick up the slack when other parts are failing. And so if you are in a situation where your liver’s just not doing awesome. And then you start to make some improvements, but your skin has not yet adjusted. Your skin is still like I need to be doing a lot of the work here. Your liver’s starting to improve. So, you are processing more of the crud in your body that previously you just weren’t getting around to. Okay. That will be an indication that more crud is being processed. And the liver is not yet sufficiently improved for the skin to believe that it doesn’t need to help anymore. So, it isn’t a healing crisis. It’s just like the skin was pitching in to get the work done. And it’s not going to stop doing that until it believes that the liver is actually stable and can do the work on its own.
Yeah. All right.
So, when you stop having the extra acne, you can be like woo-hoo. My liver is stable in doing the work on its own.
It’s doing good. So, everything we’ve been talking about has been about yellow dock root. I personally really haven’t done pretty much anything with the leaves, but you do hear about it from time to time. One thing that we want to make sure everybody knows is that you’re not going to want to go around eating raw yellow dock leaves. That’s bad news apparently.
Honestly, yellow dock leaves don’t make great food. Put it into that category like poke leaves. That if you are hungry, and you have no access to any kind of food, and you really need a vegetable. Okay, you can eat yellow dock leaves. Maybe boil them twice.
Boil it twice, yeah.
Like you do with poke. But they’re not awesome. They’re not delicious either.
I bring this up, because you had a case you were just telling me about earlier today.
Oh, this is why… yeah. So, in Europe yellow dock is banned. And the reason is because somebody hurt themselves eating a bunch of raw yellow dock leaves. And so when that case report happened in the EU, the various governments… I’m not sure if it’s at the EU level or at various countries in the EU – but I know Iceland is one of them – made it so that you just can’t work with yellow dock. Because they said oh, this isn’t safe. Well the root is safe, just don’t eat the leaves like salad. Don’t do that.
Yeah. Not a raw food item.
No. You can’t live on only raw food. Some stuff has to be cooked.
Rose Species & Skin Care
Yeah. Okay, well let’s go ahead and move on to rose. And I’m realizing now that I mixed up my alphabet a little bit, and that’s pretty embarrassing to me. It should have been O before U.
Oh, so we should have said rose first is what you’re saying?
It should have been rose and rumex, yeah.
Oh, well that’s fine. It’s fine.
It’s fine. You don’t mind, right?
You know what, listen. When I was a kid, my last name was Whitney. And every once in a while – not often enough, but every once in a while – an elementary school teacher would have like today we’ll line up for lunch in reverse alphabetical order. And I didn’t have to be the last person in line, and I loved it. So, today is in memory of those few precious times that elementary school teachers let us line up for lunch in reverse alphabetical order. Yes.
It could also be that we wanted to get the earthy bitter laxative out of the way, before we talk about the light floral nervine of rose. Yeah, maybe.
Ah, that’s true, yeah.
Well, all right. Now we’ve clarified that one. So, let’s talk about rose. And this is one of those situations where you say Rosa species, plural. Lots of different rose species that one can work with for medicines.
No rose species that are sprayed with pesticides though.
No, thank you.
Because if you go to a florist, often the roses that you get there are sprayed with pesticides and stuff like that. Or fed crazy-bananas rose plant food in order to grow these crazy-banana roses that don’t really exist in nature. Like what you think of as a Valentine’s Day rose doesn’t exist in nature anywhere. That was cultivated.
Sometimes the ornamentals trade scent for color as well.
Sometimes they do.
And that’s going to matter to us in terms of the efficacy.
Right. But also in order to produce that many petals, it just takes a huge amount of energy for the plant. And so they feed those plants plant food that is not safe for human consumption. So, I wouldn’t want to…
These roses are taking steroids.
Yes, that’s exactly what I’m trying to say. Thank you.
Actually, I wonder if there are literal steroids in there, because that could stimulate some… Okay, never mind.
I love it when he gets an idea, and he’s like the brain is already going. Okay. So anyway, so when we say rose species, it isn’t quite every rose species, because you do need a rose that has a strong scent and that is grown naturally. And you can have roses that have a lot of petals that have a strong scent and were not taking the equivalent of plant steroids. And if that is the case, that’s totally fine. But typically I really like the five petal roses or the fewer than 10 petals. Sometimes they have a few more than five. So Rosa canina, Rosa rugosa.
Yeah, we like them wild. There’s something about that. And I mean, you can have – I don’t know – feral roses that live next to your house.
Oh, we had that. We had that at one apartment. It was a five petal rose. Some of them had six or eight petals, but it was fairly consistent. And it had a very strong scent. And at some point the owner of the house had planted that rose certainly who knows way back when. Because it was now like really overgrown and only had four or five canes, but they were all like 20 feet long and bowed over. And at that point this rose had really just kind of gone wild. And we made some really excellent rose petal infusions from those roses. They were great.
Yeah. It’s handy if you have a bush close by, because then you can gather petals, and then come back again a few days later and get some more, and come back and get some more. And that can be good if you want to make a larger amount of say rose petal-infused honey, which is just fantastic.
Really good to have, yeah. It absorbs the scent and the flavor and everything really well.
Lovely. And that is not just delicious. Also it’s fantastic skincare. You can just smear that all over your face. And now you’re going to need to lay down for a while afterwards just to let it soak in. But if you’re the kind of person who enjoys doing face masks, you can mix it with other things. But honestly, if you have rose-infused honey, don’t even mix it with anything. Just put it on your face straight, because it’s so amazing. And then, you know, after 20 minutes or so, you wash it off. And your skin is all glowy and wonderful. Yeah
Yeah. Rose flower water or rose hydrosol essentially is also really great for skin. And it’s just so flexible, because it’s mild but active. Like you have a little extra redness on a spot on your face, and so you spritz it with rosewater a few times a day. You have a sunburn. And so you spritz yourself with rosewater every 20 minutes or so until you start to feel better or fall asleep for the night. Yes, that is reference to experience of mine. But it works. You come home from the day where you’re learning advanced swimming techniques. And you’re out in this California sunshine for 12 hours. And then you come home to your hotel, and you know you’re going to do the whole thing again tomorrow. And you’re like wow, I’m pretty red here. And so you’re like all right, well, I’ve got this evening. And you spritz yourself with rosewater every 20 minutes. And you fall asleep. And you wake up tomorrow, and you’re still pink. But you’re not cracked. You’re not bleeding. You’re going to be okay. Yeah. The frequency does matter with those kinds of applications,
Honestly, with all natural interventions, you almost always have to do them more often, yeah. That is just like the reality.
And of course rosewater is just a great thing to have around in the bathroom, in the first aid kit, and all kinds of places really. I mean as a daily skin toner, absolutely. It really does work, particularly if you have more oily skin or more of a damp expression. It’s going to have, well, it’s energetics: cooling, drying, tonifying. So, it’s going to tighten things up. It’s going to reduce the redness. It’s going to reduce the swelling. Yeah.
Look y’all. I’m 49 years old, and I don’t have wrinkles on the sides of my eyes. And that’s because I spray rose water on my face, and then I put rose hip oil on afterwards. I used to put olive oil. But then I was like wait, you can have rose hip oil? That’s pretty great. And yes, okay. Sometimes my skin does glisten a little, or I kind of have a little glow. But the thing is that I would always rather just take a moment to blot a little extra oil off my forehead, but know that my skin is really getting all of the moisturizing that it needs. It’s actually better for your skin to be just a smidge on the oily side.
First Aid for Skin & Emotions
Yeah, on the face. But then rosewater is also an excellent first aid thing, because you can work with that for a wound wash to irrigate a wound or just to clean it out. Or just to use in place of water, particularly if you’re hiking around. And there’s the stream over there, but I’ve got this thing of rosewater. Let’s clean the wounds with that first. That’ll be better. And it’s stable. So, it’s just extremely handy for that. Plus, if it’s in your kit, then you can also take a bit and squirt it into a cup of plain water and drink that, a nice little nervine rose infusion. Very light, but you smell it, and so you start to feel it.
You know, there have been times in my life that I have dealt with a lot of depression. Most of those times I wasn’t really willing to admit that at the time, but I will admit it now. And I am remembering a particular period like that, where I was really down and didn’t have the energy to make tea for myself a lot of the time. And so I would just put hot water – like literally from the sink hot water – and then put a little splash of rose water into it from the bottle from the grocery store.
Yeah, exactly. And that was what was tea. And it was amazing. It’s super effective, actually. It really helps tremendously. And sometimes you just don’t have the energy to even boil the water for self-care. And so literally just tap hot water and a little splash of rosewater from the grocery store can give your emotional state a legitimate, noticeable, sanity-saving boost.
Yeah. You can get a little fancier. You could take some rose water, and you could put that into cocktails or mocktails or whatever. A splash or a spritz or whatever. It’s going to add a nice rosy note. So, that can be for delight.
You could even make a rose syrup. And have rosewater be the water part and then mix in your rose infused honey. And then that would be just a really lovely syrup in like a pomegranate-based cocktail. And then like pomegranate and rose, oh my goodness. That would be so good.
By the way, after you’ve infused your rose petals into honey, and then you strain them out. You’re going to have rose petals that are like covered in honey and maybe even crystallizing a little bit as they dry. You can eat those. You can put them into desserts and put them on foods and things. They’re really nice. I’ve got one of these fancy chocolate bars that you have to keep refrigerated in the fridge right now. And it’s lavender and rose. And I was chewing on it, and I was like am I eating part of the wrapper? What happened? But no, it was just like big pieces of rose petal that were right in there. So, I don’t know if that’s like the best texture choice for mass market products, but it was actually kind of cool. Because I was like, this is unmistakably rose petal. Okay. Pretty good actually.
That’s awesome. Yeah. Maybe not everybody would love that, but I am betting that you loved that a lot.
I thought it was cool.
Yeah, yeah. I want to go back about the rosewater and a first aid application. You were mentioning as a wound wash and as sunburn, but I want to put those together for a more acute burn situation. Like you spilled cooking oil on your hands or you this or that, like some kind of actual trauma burn. Rosewater is amazing in that situation, because you’re getting the antiseptic effect and the significant cooling effect all in one. It makes an enormous difference, an enormous difference. So, do that.
Rose Parts & Their Spectrum of Actions
Yeah, go for that. So with rose, it’s not just the petals that are work with able. But it’s also the hips of course. And those can be foo. and those have a ton of vitamin C, and bioflavonoids, and vitamin red. So, there’s a lot of great nutritive stuff in there. Rose hips are often an ingredient in red tea that we’ll prepare with some rose hip, and some hibiscus, and maybe some elderflower, and some goji, and schisandra if we’re feeling bold today. And maybe some rooibos as well for a different type of red entirely. But that’s a tea that’s pumped with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, things to stabilize your blood vessels. Something that we started to drink a little more frequently after we started to understand the damage that covid can cause to the microvasculature.
Yeah. Definitely, I think in a post-covid world, and by post I don’t mean that covid is all over, and we’re not dealing with it anymore. I just mean post covid is on the scene. I really think that in this reality, honestly, everybody should just drink red tea like two or three times a week. And it could be any reds that you have. If you really love hibiscus and rose hips, okay. That’s fantastic, whatever. You can adjust it to your taste. But all those strong red pigment plants have that same kind of action. And it’s just really important for stabilizing the vasculature after the damage that is caused even by non-symptomatic covid.
Do you think we could get red berries into kvass? Because the red from the beets is a little bit different.
It’s more of a liver kind of, yeah.
Betalain alkaloids and that kind of thing, but I don’t know. Can I somehow get like the red of rooibos, and the red of rose hips, and the red of beets all together into the same thing?
Yes, you could, but here’s how you would do it. You would make kvass with the beets, and then you would make kombucha with the other red things. And then you would just pour them together.
I can mix them together. That’d be all right. Cool.
That might be a very strange flavor.
But it would be super antioxidant.
Whoever’s out there looking for the next hip product, give that a try, and let us know how it goes. We won’t charge you for the idea.
It might taste great. It might taste weird. I’m not quite sure. But it will be amazing.
But you could totally sell it as a super food, let’s say that.
Yeah. Well, it would in fact be one. It absolutely would.
It would in fact be one, yeah.
It would in fact be one.
So, you know, rose hips are pretty fantastic in that regard, but don’t stop there. Rose leaf. Rose leaf is a powerful astringent. And you can drink rose leaf tea. If you’re like me, you might not have 12 cups of it in a day.
Or maybe even one whole one. Yeah.
But, you know, it’ll do the job. And if you have diarrhea going on, and you have a rosebush outside. And you gather some leaves and make a tea of it, I think it will help you.
Yeah. So, it will be more bitter. And honestly, rose petals have bitterness as well. They have the floral aspect that kind of helps cover the bitterness. But if you make tea out of only rose petals, the end result will be bitter.
Your nose and your tongue will tell you somewhat different things.
Yes, exactly. Exactly. But the leaves will have a stronger bitter focus than the petals do. Which honestly is probably good, because you don’t always need as much astringent as the leaves. I feel like the leaves of rose are more astringent than raspberry or blackberry.
Yeah. And those are all in the same family, right? This is the Rosaceae family.
I don’t think that it’s as astringent as like sumac.
Or crab apple leaf if we want to stay in the same family. Yeah. So, there’s a scale there too. But that’s good to know, right? And there’s that acronym JARFA: just another rose family astringent. And that’s good, but don’t assume that means that they’re all equally potent. And so construct for yourself a sensorial scale of which of the rose family astringents is the most. And, you know, be trying to apply that right for if this is a child that has some diarrhea versus somebody who it’s like really severe. And we really need to tighten things up fast, you know? Yeah. Different approaches.
Yeah. And then you were wanting to remember the root also. And so just like we put the leaves on a spectrum with the other rose family plants, you can also make a spectrum of the plant of just rose itself. And so the petals are astringent, but mildly so. Definitively, but mildly. The leaves are more astringent. And the root is hooboy. It is astringent, y’all, let me tell you.
Yeah. Like the tincture is wicked astringent.
Yeah. Like one of the most as stringent tinctures.
Well, you know, there’s a reason why rhodiola, which we talked about a couple weeks ago, is called rose root. And it’s because if you chew on a rhodiola root, and you chew on a rose root, they’re roughly the same degree of astringency.
Yeah. Plus rhodiola roots are often kind of…
Rosy scented…rosy colored.
Kind of red colored. Not red, like kind of pink maybe.
Sometimes there’s a rainbow going on in there. It’s pretty gorgeous.
They’re kind of amazing if you ever get the chance to harvest them for real. And you know, if you’re not in the south south, you probably can grow one year’s worth of rhodiola. It won’t over winter. But if you have a place that gets a lot of sun, but you can make it be not too hot – that’s a challenge – then it will grow. And then you can see the roots. But they are very cool.
Yeah. So, rose root. We’re not saying that you’re going to go out and dig up your rosebush and harvest the root all the time. But if somebody was going to dig up an old rosebush, and you knew something about how they had been treating and spraying that rosebush over the years.
Right. Like if it was a wild rosebush, which is what happened for us. There was some wild property that was owned by the Audubon Society. And we belonged to the group that helped maintain that land. And they wanted to remove a couple of wild rose bushes. And we knew that nothing had been done on that dirt. It was just all left alone. And so we were like well wait. We’ll come help remove them, but can we take the roots? And we made a ton of tincture out of the roots, because you don’t always have the opportunity to dig up a rosebush.
Yeah. All right. Well, you know, we didn’t even really discuss the sort of nervine aspects of rose, and the way that the scent of it kind of hits your olfactory nerves. And then that moves up into your brain. And this is a reason that we give roses to people that we love. And we want them to feel good and calm and peaceful in the heart and all that kind of thing.
I kind of don’t even mind that we didn’t get too nervy about it, because I feel like it gave a chance for these other aspects to really shine today. Because I am so enamored of the nervine aspects of rose, that normally that’s where I put all of my focus. So, today it’s going to be backwards in the alphabet. And also, we’re just going to, you know, focus on these other things.
Yeah. Rose on the skin. Rose in the digestion when we need some tonification. Yeah, absolutely. All right. Well, you know, skin’s come up a few times today. If there was a unifying feature between yellow dock and rose, it would be that one way or another you can see skin improvements. So, just want to let you know that we do have a course on Integumentary Health. And there’s a bunch of great fun herbs in there, including ones that you probably think of if you know anything about herbs such as calendula or burdock.
Yes. I think that if you think about skin health, and you think about herbs, probably the first thing you think about is calendula. Even if you don’t know a lot about herbs. But there’s so much more.
Yeah. And we love to emphasize how plants like turmeric and echinacea can be really good for the skin. Pine, lots of different things that can help out there. So, like all of our courses, we take the approach of looking at the actions and the kinds of energetic qualities and effects that we want from our plants to match a particular problem. So, it’s not just saying take calendula when you have a rash. Or put rose water onto your acne or whatever else. But helping you to understand at a deeper level why those things work. And also, which other things could also do the same job.
Right. When you really understand the actions that you need, and you understand all of the different plants who have those actions. Then when you run out of one, it’s not really a big problem. Because you know who you can swap for.
Yeah. So, all that info is in there. And like all of our courses, you also get live Q&A sessions twice a week, integrated discussion threads in every lesson, lifetime access to the course material and any updates we make in the future.
Yeah. You never lose access to our courses. I think that’s not common. A lot of people don’t realize that when they sign up, but there’s zero time limit. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get through. It doesn’t matter if years from now you say ooh, I really enjoyed that course, and I want to go back and review it. I want to go do it again. Hey, it’ll still be there for you. It will always be there for you as long as the internet exists.
Yeah. We’ve got quick guides. We’ve got action prompts. We’ve got capstone assignments for you to really test your knowledge and all that.
Don’t worry. They’re not stressful.
No, it’s fun. It’s fun. You’re going to love it. So, all of that and more to be found at online.commonwealthherbs.com. Yeah. All right. Well that’s it for us this week. We’ll be back next time with more Holistic Herbalism podcast for you. Until then, take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. Drink some tea.
Drink some tea.
And spritz some rose water everywhere.
Nobody would mind.
Sounds great. Let’s do it. Bye.
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