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Sorrel health benefits and therapeutic value

Sorrel on a piece of wood

Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) is a perennial native to Asia and Europe which is found in all the temperate climate regions of the planet.

This hardy leaf vegetable with a tart taste boasts many health benefits.

Health benefits of sorrel


Sorrel has long been used in cooking, and ancient Romans and Egyptians already attributed digestive benefits to the plant. This vegetable patch plant was also used in the Middle Ages to prevent scurvy. In Canada, doctors have been using it for over a century when treating breast cancer.

  • With high levels of folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin C and magnesium, sorrel contributes to the proper upkeep of the immune and nervous systems, and reduces tiredness.
  • Sorrel contains many phenolic compounds which have powerful antioxidant activity, and which will support overall cardiovascular health.
  • Sorrel is also an excellent source of potassium, which is essential for transmitting nerve impulses, for muscle contraction and for proper kidney and adrenal gland operation.
  • Thanks to its light diuretic and laxative properties, when used in the form of infusions (0.7 to 1 oz (20 to 30 g) leaves for 1 quart (1 liter) water), sorrel is a purgative.
  • Topical use such as sorrel poultices will speed the maturing of abcess and heal wounds.


Growing sorrel to benefit from its medicinal properties


  • Sorrel is a perennial plant that must be provided with part sun exposure as well as fertile, cool, light, humified and rather acidic soil. Its leaves can be harvested as needs arise from spring up to fall frost spells.
  • In pots, sorrel is fares well as long as it grows in a container at least 12 inches (30 cm) tall and 12 inches (30 cm) wide. Take note, though, that aphids, flies and slugs are sorrel’s worst enemies!
  • Be certain to snip off flowers when you see them appear, so that the leaves may grow better.


Cooking with sorrel for its health benefits

  • The main use of sorrel is usually delicious stew, but it can also be prepared as gravy for fish meals. It pairs well with eggs and poultry, too.
  • Immediately eat your fresh sorrel, because it wastes away quite fast. To keep it, (not longer than two-three days), place it in the refrigerator, in an airtight container. Rinse it off only just before using it, and don’t soak it for very long.
  • Note that once cooked, sorrel won’t even keep until the next meal.

Nutritional content of sorrel

25 kcal / 3.5 oz (100 g). Sorrel contains lots of vitamin C, B1 and B2. It also imparts magnesium, iron and copper as well as provitamin A.

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Sorrel on a plank by Molly Des Jardin under © CC BY 2.0
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