The medicinal power of sorrel

Sorrel is a wild vegetable and medicinal plant. In our fast-paced modern society, most people have forgotten that vegetables were originally picked in the field. In order not to have to search too far, people pulled the vegetables, roots and all, out of the ground and then grew them around the house. Sorrel is a delicious vegetable, free and biodynamic. So what more could you want? Sorrel is a vegetable that has been cultivated for a long time, not only for its nutritional value but also for its medicinal properties. In earlier times it was mainly eaten with spinach. The combination with chard is also very tasty. There are many types of sorrel; In addition to sorrel, blood sorrel is not to be despised. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing of sorrel / Source: Johann Georg Sturm (Painter: Jacob Sturm), Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)


  • Traditional use
  • Naming
  • Active substances
  • Bleeding gums
  • Common sorrel during a spring cure
  • Sauerkraut in the kitchen
  • Dose and safety
  • Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Traditional use

Sorrel is traditionally used in a purifying spring cure. It is also a folk medicine for diarrhea, fever and rashes. It strengthens the stomach. Sorrel was a popular vegetable in ancient Greece, ancient Egypt and ancient Romans. One of the most common uses was to take sorrel on a long sea voyage. It prevented people from developing scurvy; Sorrel contains a large amount of vitamin C.


In Latin, sorrel is called Rumex acetosa . In Dutch we have the alternative nicknames sorrel and zurkel. Zurkel is mainly said in Flanders. Acetosa means ‘sour’. Rumex means ‘pointed’ and that refers to the shape of the leaves, which have a clear point.

Active substances

The herb growing above ground is used for phytotherapeutic purposes. It contains the following active substances: potassium oxalate, oxalic acid, tannins, vitamins such as C, B complex, E and K, flavonoids in the form of quercitrin, hyperoside and vitexin, anthraquinone derivatives including emodin, aloe emodin, chrysophanol, rhein and physicion.

Bleeding gums

Sorrel is generous when it comes to the amounts of vitamin C and flavonoids. It is therefore used to improve the functioning of the immune system. In addition, the blood vessels, as well as the small capillaries, are strengthened. This makes it a good remedy for bleeding gums.

Common sorrel during a spring cure

Sorrel, sorrel or zurkel / Source: Hajotthu, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Common sorrel is a remedy that has depurative or blood purifying properties. The plant has this effect because it has a diuretic effect, it contains many vitamins and flavonoids and it promotes intestinal peristalsis. It is mainly used in the spring for spring cures.

Sauerkraut in the kitchen

Mari Maris published a beautiful book in 2013 describing 66 vegetables. The title of the book is ‘The Vegetable Bible’ and the subtitle: ‘From Mashed Potato to Sorrel Souflé’. Most of the treated vegetables are not for sale in an average supermarket, but are available on organic markets and sometimes can only be picked in the wild or from your own vegetable garden. Mari Maris prepares the vegetables simply but masterfully delicious. Her book is essential reading for every vegetable lover. One of her mottos is: never cook vegetarian, cook deliciously without meat or fish. This woman, who is highly regarded as a cook by many chefs, writes a delicious basic recipe for sorrel in her book. You can simply braise it in a pan with a knob of butter. You can season it with salt and pepper. This is a delicious basic dish that you can supplement with items such as crème fraîche, flaked almond, boiled potato and garlic.

Dose and safety

  • Never take more than 40 grams of sorrel per day.
  • Sorrel is good to use occasionally; not daily.
  • Sorrel should not be used in case of kidney and gallstones and rheumatic complaints.
  • Do not eat sorrel during pregnancy.

Potassium oxalate is a substance that does not only have positive properties. It can lead to oxalate poisoning in children and adults if eaten too much and too often. There is a risk of kidney damage, overstimulation of the gastrointestinal tract and the liver which can lead to vomiting, and a calcium deficiency could occur which can lead to circulatory disorders, unconsciousness and muscle cramps.

Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Much of the information about the medicinal plant mentioned in this article comes from the book Groot Handboek Medicinal Plants by Geert Verhelst. That is a handbook in phytotherapy. However, it is not suitable for self-healing. Anyone who suffers from something should consult a doctor or herbal therapist for a good diagnosis and choice of the best remedies, tailored to your personal situation. The knowledge and science mentioned here is of a purely informative nature.