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Many different kinds of “Dock” exist and though some have similar properties, identification of the proper material is important. This particular plant has narrow leaves (Rumex translated from the Latin means Lanced) , which are usually curly (crispus) at the edges, vary in size and are not found in great numbers higher up the stem of the plant. The flowers become a green seed that turns a deep red color in the fall, traditionally marking the proper harvest time for the root. The plant is native to Europe and Western Asia but has naturalized itself widely in North America where it grows almost anywhere it can. Native American use of this plant was extensive. The Dakota used the bruised fresh green leaves as a poultice for infected wounds. The Blackfoot, Cheyenne and Dakota tribes used the fresh root pulp topically for rheumatic pains. The Iroquois also applied this mash to piles, and as a poultice in yellow fever. The Cherokee, as well as the tribes mentioned above, used the root internally for constipation, and to inspire the body to cleanse the blood. The Navajo used the whole plant as an emetic before ceremony to clear and cleanse the system in order to prepare the body for healing and spiritual ritual.
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