This Lemon-tasting Herb Can Increase Your Vitamin C Intake

Lemons and other citrus fruits aren’t the only foods that have a high vitamin C content with a delicious tart and acidic flavor. There’s actually a little green herb that has a similar taste and it goes by the name of Sorrel.

A long time ago during the middle ages, before citrus fruit ever reached Europe, people relied on this spinach-like herb to add a sour kick to their cooking. But once citrus fruits were introduced to Europe, it seemed as if everyone forgot about them — that is until recently. Sorrel is back in the rotation because of its exceptional health benefits.

Botanical Name and Family of Sorrel

The scientific name for sorrel is Rumex acetosa. It belongs to the Polygonaceae or Knotweed family and goes by many names including the following:

  • Garden Sorrel
  • Common Sorrel
  • English Sorrel
  • Broadleaf Sorrel
  • Red Sorrel

What Is Sorrel?

This Lemon-tasting Herb Can Increase Your Vitamin C Intake

Sorrel is an annual, bushy plant and a perennial herb that is native to the grasslands of Asia, Europe and North America. The arrow-shaped leaves, roots and juicy stems are used as a vegetable or to thicken sauces and soups. The leaves have a flavor resembling that of wild strawberries or kiwifruit. 

It has the ability to flourish in a varied range of climates, which is why it can be found in each type of weather and regions all over the world.

Active Ingredients Found in Sorrel

The most important constituents in sorrel are compounds called anthraquinones. The reason why it is so sour is from the oxalic acid content. Oxalic acid is known to be toxic if taken in large quantities, but it is totally safe if consumed in small and controlled portions.

Sorrel contains high amounts of dietary fiber and is loaded with vitamin C as well as other essential nutrients including the following:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium

Sorrel also contains organic ingredients that consist of flavonoids, polyphenolic acids and anthocyanins that all contribute to making this plant extremely beneficial for your health.

Health Benefits of Sorrel

In traditional Asian medicine, hot water extracts of Sorrel are used to treat gastric ulcers and gastritis. It is also used to treat inflammation of the nasal and respiratory passages, in sinusitis and to increase urine output as a diuretic.

It has also been used in combination with other herbs such as cowslip, verbena and gentian root. Researchers have found evidence of cytotoxic and anti-mutagenic properties in Sorrel.

Along with the previously mentioned benefits, sorrel also proposes the following benefits:

Different Ways to Use Sorrel

Aerial parts of the plant are used for medicinal purposes. Fresh leaves can be made into a decoction where it can be used to help heal various skin problems. The leaves can also be used for culinary uses or in the form of tinctures.

Side Effects of Sorrel

It’s no surprise that incorporating sorrel into your daily diet will be beneficial for your health. But if misused, it can cause a variety of problems. Sorrel taken in combination with other herbs as mentioned above may lead to digestive problems and allergic rash on the skin. In large doses, it may cause kidney stones. Sorrel is not recommended for use by pregnant women and children.

So if you decide you want to add sorrel to your daily diet, make sure to talk to your doctor first to find out if this is the right decision for you.

The content of this Website is for informational purposes only, is general in nature and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and does not constitute professional advice. The information on this Website should not be considered as complete and does not cover all diseases, ailments, physical conditions, or their treatment. You should consult with your physician before beginning any exercise, weight loss, or health care program and/or any of the beauty treatments.


Lee NJ, Choi JH, Koo BS, Ryu SY, Han YH, Lee SI, Lee DU. Antimutagenicity and cytotoxicity of the constituents from the aerial parts of Rumex acetosa. Biol Pharm Bull. 2005 Nov;28(11):2158-61. PubMed PMID: 16272711.

Bae JY, Lee YS, Han SY, Jeong EJ, Lee MK, Kong JY, Lee DH, Cho KY, Lee HS, Ahn MJ. A Comparison between Water and Ethanol Extracts of Rumex acetosa for Protective Effects on Gastric Ulcers in Mice. Biomol Ther (Seoul). 2012 Jul; 20(4): 425–430. doi:  10.4062/biomolther.2012.20.4.425. PMCID: PMC3762272