Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)


Historically, sorrel has been used as a salad green, spring tonic, diarrhea remedy, weak diuretic, and soothing agent for irritated nasal passages. Sorrel has been used with other herbs to treat bronchitis and sinus conditions in Germany since the 1930s. The possible benefit of the multi-ingredient product, Sinupret®, has recently been supported by clinical studies. Sorrel is also found in the proposed herbal cancer remedy, Essiac®, but effectiveness has not been proven.
Sorrel contains oxalate (oxalic acid), which is potentially toxic in large doses. Organ damage and death were reported following ingestion of a concentrated sorrel soup. Other adverse and drug/herb interactions are possible.

Related Terms

Acedera, acid sorrel, aglycones, aloe-emodin, aloe-emodin acetate, anthracene derivatives, anthranoids, ascorbic acid, azeda-brava, buckler leaf, cigreto, common sorrel, cuckoo sorrow, cuckoo's meate, dock, dog-eared sorrel, emodin, FE, field sorrel, flavonoids, French sorrel, garden sorrel, gowke-meat, greensauce, green sorrel, Herba acetosa, kemekulagi, oxalates, phenylpropanoid, physcion, Polygonaceae (family), quinoids, red sorrel, red top sorrel, rhein, round leaf sorrel, Rumex scutatus, Rumex acetosa L., Rumex acetosella L., sheephead sorrel, sheep sorrel, sheep's sorrel, sorrel dock, sour dock, sour grass, sour sabs, sour suds, sour sauce, Wiesensauerampfer, wild sorrel.
Note: Not to be confused with shamrock (Oxalis hedysaroides, also redwood sorrel, sorrel, violet wood sorrel) or roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa, also Guinea sorrel, Jamaican sorrel).

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Allergies (allergic rhinitis) (Grade: C)
There is not enough evidence in this area. More research of sorrel alone is needed.
Antibacterial (Grade: C)
There is not enough evidence in this area. More research of sorrel alone is needed.
Bronchitis (Grade: C)
Sorrel, in combination with other herbs, may have beneficial effects for acute bronchitis, but it is not clear what dose is safe or effective. Sorrel alone has not been studied for this indication.
Cancer (Grade: C)
Early evidence suggests that herbal formulations containing sorrel, such as Essiac®, do not shrink tumor size or increase life expectancy in patients with cancer. However, currently there is a lack of studies that look at sorrel as the sole treatment for cancer, and a strong recommendation cannot be made without further research.
Quality of life (cancer) (Grade: C)
Essiac® is a popular therapy for cancer. It is unclear whether Essiac® is helpful in increasing quality of life in women with breast cancer. Better studies are needed to understand this relationship.
Sinusitis (Grade: C)
Research suggests that an herbal combination preparation containing sorrel called Sinupret® may have beneficial effects in improving symptoms of sinus infection when used with antibiotics. It is not clear if these same effects would be seen with sorrel alone or what dose may be safe and effective.