In present times, the plant's leaves are the parts used for both medicinal and culinary purposes, though the plant's roots have been historically used as an astringent and coagulant. The entire plant, including roots, is used as the main ingredient in essiac tea. And though sorrel is considered by many to be a nuisance weed, its presence and usage have provided numerous benefits for people across the years.
Sheep sorrel has several reported health benefits, including treatment for cancer, fever, generalized inflammation, and scurvy. Its ability to help treat these conditions stems from sorrel's abundance of disease-fighting molecules, such as vitamins (A, B complex, C, D, E, and K) and natural molecules used to make many drugs, including anti-cancer medications.
Another common health use for sheep sorrel is reducing pain and inflammation associated with sinusitis. Sorrel's effectiveness in this setting comes from tannins in the plant, which help to decrease mucus production. In fact, use of sorrel for sinusitis boasts the largest amount of clinical evidence. Sorrel is also used as adjunctive treatment for bacterial infections (with antibiotics as first-line treatment),and for increasing urine flow, though less evidence exists for these uses.
An important contradiction to sorrel use is a history of kidney stones, as sorrel can lead to kidney stone development due to high amounts of oxalic acid. It is also generally recommended that children and pregnant or breastfeeding women avoid this herb, as not enough information exists regarding its effects in these states. Another side effect that one must be mindful of when taking Sheep sorrel is diarrhea. Diarrhea can lead to potassium loss, and thus, those taking certain diuretic medications prescribed by a physician, which can also lead to potassium loss, should be cautious with sorrel.
Outside of health uses, sorrel has also been used extensively in the culinary world for hundreds of years. Two types of sorrel are commonly used: common/wild sorrel and French sorrel. One differentiating feature between the two are the larger leaves of common sorrel. In general, sorrel appears as a thin plant with long, green or crimson leaves and has a taste similar to kiwi or unripe strawberries. It is known for its sour taste, and is even called azeda,Â in Portugal, which means sour
Young sorrel leaves are used directly in cooking, such as in salads, sauces, and soups. Countries around the globe have been known for using sorrel. In many countries, such as Romania, Hungary, Nigeria, and Croatia, sorrel is used for sour soups. Because of its sour taste, stewed sorrel leaves are also popular aside lamb and pork. Sorrel can also be used as a garnish, curdling agent for cheese, or flavoring agent for tartness.
From its usefulness as alternative cancer therapy to its ability to excite taste buds, Sheep sorrel boasts a multitude of uses across multiple domains.
Sheep Sorrel belongs to the buckwheat family, and grows wild throughout most of the world. It seeks open pastures, rocky areas, and the shoulders of country roads. It is considered to be a common weed throughout the U.S.
Sheep Sorrel plants have been a folk remedy for cancer for centuries, both in Europe and America. Researchers have observed that it can help break down tumors and it can alleviate some chronic conditions and degenerative diseases.
Sheep sorrel is a rich source of oxalic acid, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese, phosphorous, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. The combination of these vitamins and minerals promote the glandular health of the entire body. Sheep sorrel also contains carotenoids and chlorophyll, as well as citric, malic, and tannic and tartaric acids.
The chlorophyll can serve many functions in the body. For one, it carries oxygen throughout the bloodstream. This is significant because cancer cells cannot live in the presence of oxygen. Chlorophyll closely resembles hemoglobin in its functioning: both are capable of carrying oxygen to every cell of the organism. When chlorophyll molecules carry oxygen through the bloodstream chromosome damage can be inhibited to effectively block cancer. Chlorophyll also helps block germs and harmful bacteria.
Chlorophyll also can help patients cope better with chemotherapy and radiation treatments. It can reduce the damage of radiation burns and increase the resistance to X-rays. Also, chlorophyll can improve cardiovascular health. Chlorophyll also can purify the liver, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the growth of new tissues. Sheep sorrel also contains silicon, which is a necessary element in nerves and the myelin sheath that covers them.
Besides the properties listed above, sheep sorrel is a digestive regulator, meaning that it can act as an anti-diarrhea agent as well as a laxative, depending on the health of the digestive tract. Sheep sorrel is a cleansing agent, a diuretic, and a detoxifier. Due to the high vitamin C content, it has also been used to treat Scurvy. The oxalic acid in sheep sorrel combines with calcium to aid in its digestive assimilation and it stimulates the intestines, thus helping a sluggish gut regain normal functioning. Oxalic acid also seems to promote faster blood coagulation time, which makes it helpful to control hemorrhages. The herb also contains several anthraquinones that are effective antioxidants and radical scavengers, again helping with cancer treatment.
Sheep sorrel was considered the most active herb in essiac for stimulating cellular regeneration, detoxification and cleansing, based on reports by Rene Caisse and her doctor colleague Dr. Charles Brusch. The two did studies with mice bearing abnormal growths on the original eight herb formula at the Cambridge Medical Research center a couple of decades ago.
A side benefit is that sheep sorrel contains significant levels of phytoestrogens similar to the isoflavone phytoestrogens common to red clover, licorice and soy. These phytoestrogens are known for their health promoting properties.
Sheep sorrel has no known side effects in the doses recommended for eight herb essiac tea.
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