Sorrel plant for Herbal Naturopathy: properties, benefits, uses, side effects

Sorrel is a medicinal plant known for its bitter taste and digestive properties. Find different uses in herbal medicine. Let’s find out better.

Properties of sorrel 

Sorrel has digestive, purifying, diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties thanks to the presence of oxalates and anthraquinones. On the other hand, the emmenagogic and stomachic properties are discreet.

Among the active ingredients of sorrel, we find vitamin C (80 mg / 100 g which represents half of the daily requirement), calcium and potassium oxalates, oxalic, tartaric and tannic acids, anthraquinones, but also starch, mucilage and oils. Calcium oxalate is the substance that gives it that sour taste.

Sorrel finds the following indications:

  • Disorders of the digestive system.
  • Hemorrhoids.
  • Mouth ulcerations.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Fever.

How to use

Fresh leaves and stems and the root are used from the sorrel plant. Consumed fresh, sorrel has a sour taste and is used in addition to fresh salads, spinach and cooked vegetables in general.

For internal use, in herbal medicine, the whole plant or young leaves are used. The decoction is useful as a diuretic and refreshing, for the treatment of gingivitis and in general against inflammation of the mouth.

Fresh leaf poultices are a great remedy for skin irritations and insect bites. The foot bath with the decoction of sorrel is useful for decongesting and promoting the blood circulation of the feet.

The root, extracted from the ground in autumn and placed in infusion or decoction, has a laxative and diuretic action. A pack of fresh leaves, chopped and spread on the skin of the face, closes the dilated pores and makes the so-called “blackheads” disappear.  

In phytotherapy you can find the mother tincture obtained from the whole plant, useful for its laxative, anti-anemic, purifying action and in the treatment of dermatosis.

Contraindications of sorrel

The derivatives of this plant can present potential nephrotoxicity, therefore it is contraindicated to those suffering from stones, arthritis, gout, rheumatism, hyperacidity.

In case of high ingestion of raw leaves, poisonings with kidney lesions have been found. Incompatibility with mineral waters and copper containers. 

Description of the plant

Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) is a herbaceous perennial plant with a reddish and hollow stem. The leaves are large dark green in color, while the green or reddish flowers occur in clusters. Sorrel is widespread in meadows up to a height of 2,300 meters.  

Sorrel habitat

Sorrel is widespread, from the sea to the mountains, in open places and along waterways. The plant can be harvested all year round, even by shaving the seedling, as the root will emit new leaves again.


Sorrel was already known in ancient times as a medicinal plant, so much so that the Egyptians and the ancient Romans used it as a condiment for chicken broths with tomatoes and lentils.

It is thanks to Charlemagne that he intensified his cultivation in the gardens of the monastic cloisters and spread more widely. Medieval doctors used it to treat plague and cholera and they also tried to treat scurvy, an affection resulting from the absence of vitamin C.

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