Herb Spotlight - Sheep Sorrel

Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella)

Family: Polygonaceae

Part Used: Leaf

Flavor/Aroma: Sour

Energetics: Cooling; Drying



Although considered a noxious weed by most, Sheep Sorrel is one of many species in the Buckwheat family that grows in over 45 of the 50 states in America. For centuries this nutrient dense herbal medicine has been incorporated in the meals of the ancient Romans, Greeks, and other Mediterranian civilizations for reasons beyond its potent therapeutic use. Sheep Sorrel’s delicate, citrus-like flavor is adored by many, and it’s many medicinal applications beyond the dinner table, are just as relevant today as ever before.


Sheep Sorrel grows prolifically in almost any soil type, especially grounds that are depleted and seemingly uninhabitable. It’s resilient growth pattern is easily observed by its abundant presence throughout the United States. Sheep Sorrel can grow to reach a height of 2 feet tall, with narrow, ovate leaves, with backward leaning teeth at their base. Both the male and female flowers appear greenish with a red tint, the females expressing quite a bit redder in appearance.3

Cultivation and Harvesting:

Sheep Sorrel is native to Asia and parts of Europe, including the British Isles, dating back to 4000 BCE. It was introduced into North America and many other areas of the globe. It is best harvested in the spring when the leaves are at their most plump. Always practice sustainable harvesting techniques, but this is one herb you can feel good about collecting in quantity.3,1

Southern Oregon Cultivation:

There are an abundance of Sorrel species growing in the Rogue Valley, and throughout Oregon. Sheep Sorrel is easily identified in the wild growing amongst grasslands, along hiking trails, beside roads, along the rocky coast, and peaking through the sidewalk cracks. It particularly likes to grow where blueberries can be found, and Sorrel of any type makes a nutritious addition to soups (as a thickener), salads, and sandwiches- think lemony, tangy lettuce.

History and Folklore:

Sheep Sorrel, and other related species, have been known as a culinary staple amongst indeginous of this country, as well as its flavorful integration into a variety of well-known dishes in Europe and Asia.

Sorrel is one of the main ingredients in Hot and Sour soup, giving this dish it’s distinct pucker-worthy flavor.1 

American Native Medicinal Uses: A tea preparation of the Sorrel leaves was often used to balance metabolism, soothe sore throats, and for a detoxifying regimen. The leaves were also commonly added to meals, usually replacing spinach. Sorrel leaves were also used topically to calm irritated skin, rashes, and burns. It was also often given to animals and livestock for nutritional and immune support too.2 

The Ojibwa tribe is attributed to formulated the Essiac herbal compound commonly implemented in immunomodulatory protocols.1    

Modern Applications:

Sheep Sorrel is a common ingredient in many immunomodulatory teablends such as Essiac herbal blend, which is known mostly for its therapeutic value in the treatment of cancers. The leaves are indicated to support scorbutic diseases, inflammatory conditions, and general fevers. Sorrel is also used to remedy stomach upsets and diarrhea, due to its rich tannin and calcium-binding content.1,5,3

Uses and Preparations:

Dried Herb Tea Preparation: 

1 Tablespoon per cup of warm water.

Using a reusable tea bag or tea ball, immerse the loose dried herbs into boiling water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, preferably covered, in order to release the maximum amount of herbal goodness. Some herbal tea can carry a strong flavor. We recommend organic honey as a sweetener which preserves the beneficial herbal compounds. 


2-4 mL up to 4 times daily.

Some herbal tinctures can have a strong flavor on their own. Adding your tincture to a glass of 6-8oz of water is one easy way to help, should you wish to dilute the flavor.  


It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended dosages are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the dosage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.

Sun God Medicinals products that contain Sheep Sorrel:

Panacea Essiac Herbal Tea



We recommend consulting with your practitioner if you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, or if you are using any other medications. Overconsumption of Sorrel, due to its high level of Oxalic Acid, may contribute to Kidney irritations. Please consult with a healthcare professional if you have or have ever had any renal distress, kidney stones, or infections before using Sorrel.1


  1. Food as Medicine: Sorrel: HerbalEGram - May 2016: American Botanical Council. (n.d.). http://cms.herbalgram.org/heg/volume13/05May/FoodAsMedicine_Sorrel.html 
  2. Sorrel: A Well-adapted and amazing plant full of benefits. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nativeamericanherbalism.com/body-aches/sorrel-full-of-benefits/ 
  3. Rumex Acetosa.-Sorrel. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/rumex-acet.html 
  4. Rumex acetosella. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://wiki.bugwood.org/Rumex_acetosella
  5.  Alkushi, A. G. (2017). Protective Effect of Sorrel Extract on Adult Rats Treated by Carbon Tetrachloride. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5424563/ 

    For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.