Plant Profile: Sheep Sorrel

A Rich Source of Vitamin C, E, Beta-Carotene, and Other Carotenoids

Sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella) is a herb that many Americans consider to be just a common weed, particularly in areas where blueberries grow. However, its medicinal uses have been known for quite some time. In fact, it has recently received extra attention for its use in a common cancer tea. Historically, sheep sorrel has been used to treat a variety of issues from inflammation and diarrhea to scurvy and cancer. What’s interesting about this herb is that every single part of the plant can be used medicinally.

Sheep Sorrel Natural Antioxidant Benefits

The sheep sorrel herb has been considered a rich source of vitamin C, E, beta-carotene, and other carotenoids. In fact, in “The New Healing Herb,” sheep sorrel is cited as one of the most potent antioxidant herbs known. Currently, however, it is most well-known within the alternative cancer treatment community as one of the main ingredients in several formulas.

Sheep Sorrel as a Cancer Remedy

René Caisse, who popularized Essiac tea as a cancer cure, felt sheep sorrel was the most active cancer fighter among all the herbs present in her formula. That viewpoint was seconded by Dr. Chester Stock at Sloan-Kettering in New York. Dr. Stock studied sheep sorrel benefits for over three years in the mid-seventies.

His conclusion was that sheep sorrel destroyed cancer cells in the body and inhibited metastasis by actually causing cancer cells to return to the original tumor site. Caisse believed that sheep sorrel, along with the other herbs in her tea, acted as blood purifiers, carrying away destroyed tissue as well as infections thrown off by the malignancy.

Finally, in 2012, the results of a study out of Hungary were published that showed that the Sheep Sorrel herb, and a number of its Sorrel relatives, demonstrated substantial cell growth inhibitory activity (at least 50% inhibition of cell proliferation) against one or more cancerous cell lines. Score one for the herbalists. It seems they’ve been right all along.

Sheep Sorrel for Sinus Related Conditions

Not just a potential cancer treatment, sheep sorrel has other medicinal uses as well. It is commonly used to help reduce the inflammation and pain that accompanies sinusitis. The reason for this is the tannins present in the plant, as they help in decreasing the body’s production of mucus. You might also find this herb in supplements marketed as remedies for infections and bacteria.

Other Natural Health Benefits of Sheep Sorrel

Other health benefits that have been associated with sheep sorrel include:

  • helping enhance the flow of urine
  • treating fevers and inflammations
  • treating kidney and urinary tract diseases
  • as a remedy for intestinal parasites
  • helping in maintaining the normal levels of blood sugar
  • as a topical remedy for eczema, herpes, and itchy rashes
  • helping with a variety of digestive problems
  • cooling the liver
  • strengthening the heart

How to Use Sheep Sorrel

During the spring and summer time, you may find fresh sheep sorrel in your local farmers/growers market. It makes a healthy addition to salads and soups. You may also find it in tincture, capsule, powder or tea form. Please be aware that this herb should not be used on children or pregnant or nursing women. It is also not advised for people with kidney stones, arthritis, rheumatism, endometriosis, gout and hyperacidity. You should also not take this herb with diuretics or laxatives, as it may result in serious potassium loss.

Resources:

Tamayo C, et al. The chemistry and biological activity of herbs used in Flor-essence herbal tonic and Essiac. Phytotherapy Res 2000;14:1-14.
“The New Healing Herbs”; Michael Castleman; 2010
Lajter I, Zupkó I, Molnár J, et al. “Antiproliferative Activity of Polygonaceae Species from the Carpathian Basin against Human Cancer Cell Lines.” Phytother Res. 2012 Apr 4. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4690. [Epub ahead of print]
Advertisements

2 comments