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Sheep Sorrel–also know as Red Sorrel, Sour Weed, Sour Grass, Field Sorrel–is a perennial weed composed of green arrow-shaped leaves with reddish-brown stems. Sheep sorrel grows as a rosette in clump,s which are joined underground by a creeping root system. Flowers are small and clustered in whorls and unisexual so all flowers on one plant are either male or female. Female flowers tend to be greenish and male flowers yellowish.
The plant is native to Europe and Asia, including the British Isles. It was introduced to North America and now grows abundantly throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It is commonly found in acidic, sandy soils in heaths and grassland. Sheep Sorrel is in the Buckwheat family or Polygonaceae family which includes Fo-Ti, Turkey Rhubarb and Yellow Dock.
Sheep Sorrel has been used as a spice and for its medicinal properties for centuries. In the Middle Ages, Sorrel was a prominent vegetable throughout Europe and was also cultivated by ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Sheep Sorrel has been used as a garnish and a tart flavouring agent in salads and soups and is one of the main ingredients in Chinese hot and sour soup.
First Nations tribes of Canada and the United States have utilized this plant as a food and medicine. Used in many folk remedies as a diuretic, to treat fevers, inflammation and scurvy. Sorrel has been used as a laxative and a topical treatment for skin disorders, sore throats, and warts. The English physician Culpeper recommended sorrel “to cool any inflammation and heat of blood”. He said it “refreshed overspent spirits” and could “quench thirst, and to procure an appetite”. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Sheep Sorrel is cooling, clears blood heat and damp heat.
Sorrel is a nutrient-dense green, containing important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron. Sheep Sorrel contains antioxidants that may be able to help neutralize free radicals, which can cause cellular and DNA damage in the body.
Sheep Sorrel is best known as an ingredient in Essiac, an herbal formula often used as a therapy for cancer patients. The original Essiac formulation contained Burdock Root, Turkey Rhubarb Toot, Sheep Sorrel and Slippery Elm. From the 1920s through the 1970s, Essiac was promoted as a cancer treatment by Rene Caisse, a Canadian nurse who may have invented the formula or was possibly given it by an Indigenous person in Canada.
The taste and energetics of Sheep Sorrel are sour, tart, cooling and astringent. Sheep Sorrel has affinity to the digestive system, kidneys, liver, blood, skin, immune system, lymphatic system, muskoskeletal system and heart. For a blood cleansing formula or to move the lymphatic system combine Sheep Sorrel with Burdock Root, Red Clover, Chickweed or Cleavers.
How to use:
1 teaspoon of Sheep Sorrel to one cup of boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes, strain and drink up to three cups a day.
Cautions & contraindications:
Not for long term use. Should be avoided by those with arthritis, gout or kidney stones because it contains oxalic acid.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or illness. Please consult your healthcare provider prior to the use of this product if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications or have a medical condition. Individual results may vary.