Sorrel

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What other names is Sorrel known by?

Acedera, Acedera Común, Azeda-Brava, Common Sorrel, Field Sorrel, Garden Sorrel, Oseille, Oseille Commune, Oseille des Champs, Petite Oseille, Petite Oseille des Brebis, Red Sorrel, Rumex acetosa, Rumex acetosella, Sheep's Sorrel, Sorrel Dock, Sour Dock, Surette, Vignette, Vinette, Wiesensauerampfer.

What is Sorrel?

Sorrel is a plant. People use the above ground parts for medicine.

Be careful not to confuse sorrel (Rumex acetosa) with roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), which is known as Jamaican sorrel or Guinea sorrel.

Sorrel is used for reducing sudden and ongoing pain and swelling (inflammation) of the nasal passages and respiratory tract, for treating bacterial infections along with conventional medicines, and for increasing urine flow (as a diuretic). Sorrel is also an ingredient in the herbal cancer treatment Essiac.

In combination with gentian root, European elder flower, verbena, and cowslip flower, sorrel is used orally for maintaining healthy sinuses and treating sinusitis.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Inflamed nasal passage (sinusitis). Some research suggests that taking a specific product that contains sorrel, gentian root, European elderflower, verbena, and cowslip flower (SinuComp; Sinupret, Bionorica Arzneimittel GmbH, Neumarkt, Germany) by mouth for up to 14 days improves symptoms of sinusitis, such as congestion and headache.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Breast cancer. Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing sorrel, burdock root, Indian rhubarb, and slippery elm bark (Essiac, Resperin Canada Limited, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) by mouth does not improve quality of life or mood in people with breast cancer.
  • Bronchitis. Early research shows that taking a specific combination product containing sorrel, gentian root, European elderflower, verbena, and cowslip flower (Sinupret, Bionorica Arzneimittel GmbH, Neumarkt, Germany) by mouth for 10 days improves cough and other symptoms of bronchitis.
  • Fluid retention.
  • Infections.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of sorrel for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Sorrel work?

Sorrel contains tannins, which have a drying effect to reduce mucous production.

Are there safety concerns?

Sorrel is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when consumed in food amounts or when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts as part of a combination product containing gentian root, European elder flower, verbena, and cowslip flower (SinuComp, Sinupret). The combination product can cause digestive system upset and occasionally allergic skin rash.

Sorrel is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in large amounts, since it might increase the risk of developing kidney stones. There is also a report of death after consuming a large amount (500 grams) of sorrel.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children: Sorrel is POSSIBLY UNSAFE in children when taken by mouth in large amounts. Sorrel contains oxalic acid. There is concern because a four-year-old child died after eating rhubarb leaves, which also contain oxalic acid.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Sorrel is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in large amounts during pregnancy. Although unlikely, taking sorrel as part of a combination product (Sinupret) during pregnancy might increase the risk of birth defects. There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking sorrel in medicinal amounts if you are breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Kidney disease: Large amounts of sorrel might increase the risk of kidney stones. Don't use sorrel without a healthcare professional's advice if you have ever had kidney stones.

Dosing considerations for Sorrel.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:
  • For sinus infections: A specific combination product containing 36 mg of sorrel, plus 12 mg of gentian root, and 36 mg each of European elder flower, verbena, and cowslip flower three times daily.
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Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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