Benefits of Sorrel

Know in one minute about Sorrel

  • Rich sources of vitamins and protein, which treat protein deficiency and improve weight.
  • Reduce high blood pressure problems and prevent blood clotting.
  • Treat gum infection, skin disease, lung infection like sinusitis.
  • Act as a mild laxative that modulates the gut.
  • Ease stomach pain, ulcers, constipation, diarrhea
  • Prevent infection by bacteria and viruses like Influenza A Virus and herpes simplex virus type-1.

Introduction

Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) is a perennial herb belonging to the buckwheat family Polygonaceae. It is a common plant in grassland habitats and grown as a garden herb or leaf vegetable (pot herb). The leaves of sorrel contain oxalic acid which handles its sour/ acid taste. It is used in soups, sauces or added to salads as well as lemony flavor to various dishes.  Benefits of sorrel are used to treat different diseases such as skin, mouth, stomach, intestines, blood, and many more.

Common name

It is also known as garden sorrel, common sorrel, spinach dock, acid sorrel, cigreto, field sorrel, kemekulagi, and red sorrel.  Other names for sorrel include chuukaa, churkuy, Abej, narrow-leaved dock, Yakuwa, Emagi, and Isapa.

Geographical distribution

It is widely grown in   Africa, Asia, America, and Europe, is mostly regarded as a neglected or wild vegetable

Nutritional value of Sorrel

According to USDA tamarind contains very good amounts of beneficial nutrients like vitamins A, vitamin C, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber, iron, etc (1).

Compound Amounts per 100 g.
Water  93 g
Energy  22 Kcal
Protein  2 g
Total lipid (fat)  0.7 g
Carbohydrate 3.2 g
Fiber, total dietary  2.9 g
Calcium 44 g
Iron, Fe  2.4 mg
Magnesium  103 mg
Phosphorus  63 mg
Potassium  390 mg
Sodium   4 mg
Zinc  0.2 mg
Copper  0.13 mg
Vitamin C 48 mg
Thiamin  0.04 mg
Riboflavin 0.1 mg
Niacin 0.5 mg
Pantothenic acid 0.041 mg
Vitamin B-6 0.122 mg
Folate 13 µg
Vitamin A, RAE 200 µg
Vitamin A, IU 4000 IU

Health benefit of Sorrel

1. Rich in nutrients

Sorrel contains vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins (A & C), sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron. Vitamin supports healthy vision, bone growth, and collagen synthesis. It boosts the immune system and treats deficiencies i.e. scurvy. Minerals are important for oxygen delivery DNA synthesis, electrolyte, and fluid balance.

2. Enhance weight

Sorrel leaf contains good quality of protein which helps to gain weight. Thus, the sorrel leaf acts as supplements that are effective to treat protein deficiency and improve weight (2).

3. Treat hypertension

Sorrel wide or open the blood vessels, which allow blood to flow more easily. It relaxes smooth muscles and reduces blood pressure thus helping to treat hypertension (3).

4. Antiviral properties

Sorrel contains proanthocyanidin that inhibits the growth of the virus-like Influenza A Virus (IAV) and herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) (4). Its main active constituent procyanidin B2-di-gallate protects the cells by inhibiting viral entry into the host cell (5).

5. Treat Periodontitis

Periodontitis is inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria known as Porphyromonas gingivalis. This infection can damage bones and teeth. But, proanthocyanidin containing sorrel prevents attachment/ adhesion to the host cell (6).

6. Anti-tumor properties

Emodin found in sorrel inhibits the growth of human tumor cell lines such as colon, melanoma, ovary, lung, and central nervous system. It also shows potent antimutagenic activities against the mutagens (7).

7. Treat Olfactory dysfunction or rhinosinusitis

Olfactory dysfunction is the inflammation of the nasal mucosa. In this infection a person lost in the ability to smell or reduces the ability to smell. However, sorrel in combination with other herbs helps to treat this dysfunction and sinusitis (8). It also helps to thin mucus, making it less thick and sticky and easier to cough up thus treating rhinosinusitis (9).

8. Good for the gut

Sorrel contains both spasmogenic and spasmolytic activity. It helps to induce spasm and also is able to suppress muscle spasms. Moreover, it is effective to treat vomiting and nausea as well as motion sickness. Thus, sorrel is useful to modulate the gut and treat cramping, constipation, diarrhea (10)

9. Treat Gastric Ulcers

Emodin, found in the sorrel, acts as an anti-ulcerogenic and anti-inflammatory agent. This compound helps reduce inflammation and remove harmful radicals from the gastric mucosa. It also helps to regulate acid-alkaline secretions and gastric mucosal blood flow thus effective to heal the ulcer (11).

10. Anti-platelet properties

Sorrel contains a good amount of catechin and epicatechin. This compound stops blood cells from sticking together and forming a blood clot. Thus, sorrel may use to treat atherosclerosis, ischemic stroke, and myocardial infarction (12).

11. Treat skin disease

Sorrel leaf juice in combination with fumitory is useful to cure itchy skin and ringworm (13).

Side effect of sorrel

1. Poisonous for cattle

Sorrel contains oxalic acid which proves injurious. Thus intake of sorrel may cause poisoning in horses and sheep, even with fatal outcomes (14).

2. Risk of Tubulointerstitial Nephritis (TIN)

Ingestion of sorrel in large amounts may result in the acute TIN in children due to its oxalate content. In this case, kidney injury is occurring by swelling between the kidney tubules. The symptoms of TIN are vomiting and polyuria (passing too much urine) thus precaution should be needed before consumption.

3. Presences of tannin

Plants that hold above 10% tannins have serious adverse effects. Sorrel leaves contain concentrated tannins between 7-15%. Large amounts of tannins may cause nasal cancer, stomach upset, and/or kidney and liver damage.

Q&A

What is sorrel used for?

Sorrel leaf is an excellent source of potassium, magnesium, copper, iron, manganese, and zinc. It also contains high energy value which is essential in human and animal nutrition. 

  • The leaf of this plant is eaten raw or used in salad, sauces, sandwiches, and soup. 
  • It is useful to prepare varieties of dishes such as fish, butter, potatoes, rice, lentils, vegetable, egg, chicken, mustard, and cheese. 
  • The leaves are useful for the management of jaundice, sore throat, scurvy, wounds, and warts.
  • The stems of sorrel are also useful as appetizers. It is also used for the treatment of constipation, cramping, and diarrhea.
  • It contains diaphoretic, insecticidal, diuretic, antimicrobial, anticancer, antiseptic, and antipyretic activities.

What is the flavor of sorrel?

The flavor of sorrel is like kiwifruit or sour wild strawberries. The leaf has an acidic taste and contains high levels of oxalic acid.

Is Sorrel the same as spinach?

Sorrel leaves are a rich source of macronutrients, micronutrients, and plant-based protein. It is used like spinach because it proved nutritionally superior to spinach leaves.

What are the side effects of sorrel?

There are some of the side effects of sorrel including

  1. Sorrel sprouts contained a much higher amount of soluble oxalates than the green sorrel leaves. Thus this sprout can only be added as a garnish to foods and not eat in large amounts.
  2. The leaves of sorrel also contain a good quantity of oxalates. Thus, is recommended that the leaves should be consumed not daily as a part of the diet. 
  3. Although rich in minerals, oxalic acid can bind to micronutrients, such as iron and calcium, decreases its absorption.
  4. The person who is prone to kidney stone formation should only consume small amounts of sorrel. Because it may cause crystals of calcium oxalate which leads to impairment of kidney function.
  5. Crystallized calcium oxalate also accumulates in the heart, circulatory vessels, and lungs.
  6. Oxalates may irritate the digestive system when consumed in large amounts.
  7. It is recommended to prepare sorrel with other calcium-rich foods to reduce the soluble oxalate content. Thus, reducing the amount of oxalate absorbed into the body. 
  8. Extensive tubular injury with epithelial necrosis and interstitial fibrosis are observed in hyperoxaluria (15).
  9. Intake of large amounts of sorrel may lead to dermatitis, diarrhea, signs of gastrointestinal problems, polyuria, and nausea.
  10. Ingestion of sorrel with some drugs should be avoided because it may precipitate with these drugs due to the high tannin content of sorrel. 
  11. Sorrel is not good for both domestic birds and animals i.e. poultry, goats, and sheep. It proved poisoned by taking much sorrel because of its high level of oxalic acid.

Sorrel contains a high amount of tannins (8 -16%) hence precaution should be needed by children, pregnant women, and old people. It may cause stomach upset and/or kidney and liver damage (16).

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