Rubia cordifolia, often known as Common Madder or Indian Madder, is a species of flowering plant in the coffee family, Rubiaceae. It has been cultivated for a red pigment derived from roots.
Common names of this plant include Manjistha in Sanskrit, Marathi, Kannada and Bengali, Majith in Hindi and Gujarati, Tamaralli in Telugu, Manditti in Tamil.
It can grow to 1.5 m in height. The evergreen leaves are 5–10 cm long and 2–3 cm broad, produced in whorls of 4-7 starlike around the central stem. It climbs with tiny hooks at the leaves and stems. The flowers are small (3–5 mm across), with five pale yellow petals, in dense racemes, and appear from June to August, followed by small (4–6 mm diameter) red to black berries. The roots can be over 1 m long, up to 12 mm thick. It prefers loamy soils with a constant level of moisture. Madders are used as food plants for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Hummingbird hawk moth.
Rubia cordifolia was an economically important source of a red pigment in many regions of Asia, Europe and Africa. It was extensively cultivated from antiquity until the mid nineteenth century. The plant’s roots contain an organic compound called Alizarin, that gives its red colour to a textile dye known as Rose madder. It was also used as a colourant, especially for paint, that is referred to as Madder lake. The substance was also derived other species; Rubia tinctorum, also widely cultivated, and the Asiatic species Rubia argyi (H. Léveillé & Vaniot) H. Hara ex Lauener (synonym = Rubia akane Nakai, based on the Japanese Aka (アカ or あか) = red, and ne (ネ or ね) = root). The invention of a synthesized duplicate, an anthracene compound called alizarin, greatly reduced demand for the natural derivative.
The roots of Rubia cordifolia are also the source of a medicine used in Ayurveda, this is commonly known in Ayurvedic Sanskrit as Manjistha (or Manjista or Manjishta) and the commercial product in Hindi as Manjith.
It is known as btsod (Tibetan: བཙོད་) in Traditional Tibetan Medicine where it is used to treat blood disorders; spread heat (Tibetan: འགྲམས་ཚད་), excess heat in the lungs, kidneys, and intestines; reduce swelling; and is a component of the three reds (Tibetan: དམར་གསུམ་), a subcompound included in many Tibetan preparations in order to remove excess heat in the blood.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is known as qiàn cǎo gēn (茜草根).
The following properties were described in various cellular and animal models:
- Iwatsuki, K., T. Yamazaki, D. E. Boufford and H. Ohba. 1993. Flora of Japan IIIa: 232.
- “Material Name: madder”. material record. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. November 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
- R. Daman, S. Bhandari, B. Singh and Brij Lal; S. Pathania (2006). “Comparative Studies of Rubia cordifolia L. and its Commercial Samples”. Ethnobotanical Leaflets (11): 179–188.
- Gyatso, Thinley; Hakim, Chris (2010). Essentials of Tibetan traditional medicine. Berkeley, Calif.: North Atlantic Books. p. 167. ISBN 978-1-55643-867-7.
- Joshan Rani S., Nagarauk R., Anuradha P. “Antibacterial properties of extracts of Indian medicinal plants: Syzygium alternifolium, phyllanthus niruri and rubia cordifolia” Biomedical and Pharmacology Journal 2010 3:1 (123-128)
- Divakar K., Pawar A.T., Chandrasekhar S.B., Dighe S.B., Divakar G.”Protective effect of the hydro-alcoholic extract of Rubia cordifolia roots against ethylene glycol induced urolithiasis in rats” Food and Chemical Toxicology 2010 48:4 (1013-1018)
- Caldecott, Todd (2006). Ayurveda: The Divine Science of Life. Elsevier/Mosby. ISBN 0-7234-3410-7. Contains a detailed monograph on Rubia cordifolia (Manjishta) as well as a discussion of health benefits and usage in clinical practice. Available online at http://www.toddcaldecott.com/index.php/herbs/learning-herbs/306-manjishta
Manjishta, considered to be the best all around herbal blood purifier according to Ayurvedic Text, Manjishta Rasayana cools and helps detoxify the blood. Manjishta relieves pain caused by inflammation such as a tooth ache, helps stop bleeding, and helps remove obstructions in the blood stream, liver, and kidneys. It can assist all inflammatory conditions of the blood and female reproductive system. It can help dissolve abnormal growths in the tissues. Manjishta can improve blood flow and promote healing of broken bones and tissue damaged by injury or infection. It may help with sexually transmitted diseases.
Ayurveda is a holistic healing science which comprises of two words, Ayu and Veda. Ayu means life and Veda means knowledge or science. So the literal meaning of the word Ayurveda is the science of life. Ayurveda is a science dealing not only with treatment of some diseases but is a complete way of life. Ayurveda is the ancient Indian medical science, the origin of which can be traced back to the Vedas, which are the oldest available classics of the world. Vedas are the ancient books of knowledge, or science, from India.
They contain practical and scientific information on various subjects beneficial to the humanity like health, philosophy, engineering, astrology etc. Ayurveda combines physical, psychological and spiritual therapies in an approach to health, that has addressed itself to the fundamental principles of good health and longevity. It has developed a tradition of medicine and a system of treatment based on the inherent ability of the human body to rejuvenate, to heal and to restore its natural balance.
Ayurveda is based on a system of Tridosha or Three Humours which classifies all individual constitutions of people, diseases, herbs and other non-herbal remedies and therapies according to whether they are Vata (air or nerve oriented), Kapha (water or mucoid type) or Pitta (fire type)  .
Herbs that have pungent, sour and salty flavors stimulate fire; herbs that are astringent (drying) and bitter stimulate vata-air, or the nerve centered humour; herbs that are sweet, salty and sour stimulate or increase Kapha-water, or the mucoid humour.
In contrast, herbs that are sweet, sour and salty flavored ameliorate Vata-air, which means that they have a particular affinity for the nervous system. Herbs that are astringent, sweet and bitter ameliorate Pitta-fire, meaning that they are soothing and anti-inflammatory.
Finally herbs that are pungent, bitter and astringent ameliorate Kapha-water, which means they tend to increase digestive fire, expel and dry excessive fluid build up in the system, including clearing excessive fat from the body, and the accumulation of cholesterol and other fatty deposits in the veins and arteries of the body.
This Indian system of medicine has laid down principles and methods of treatment for various diseases including chronic illnesses where there is no definite curative treatment, and symptomatic relief is the only existing treatment option.
Ayurvedic medicine originated in the early civilizations of India some 3,000-5,000 years ago. It is mentioned in the Vedas, the ancient religious and philosophical texts that are the oldest surviving literature in the world, which makes Ayurvedic medicine the oldest surviving healing system.
According to the texts, Ayurveda was conceived by enlightened wise men as a system of living harmoniously and maintaining the body so that mental and spiritual awareness could be possible. Medical historians believe that Ayurvedic ideas were transported from ancient India to China and were instrumental in the development of Chinese medicine.
Ayurveda is a science based on ancient Indian philosophy. The Vedas encompass the whole knowledge of the Universe. There are four Vedas, namely, Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda. Amongst these, the Atharvaveda mainly deals with different facets of health.
The main body of Ayurveda is found in the fourth Veda – the Artharvaveda. Ayurveda is an offspring of the Atharvaveda and is also considered as the fifth Veda. Ayurveda is recognized as an upa or supplementary Veda in its own right. It contains the description of various diseases and their aetiology, and recommends the correct diet and behaviour regimen to counter those diseases.
Mythology has it that Brahma, the creator, imparted the knowledge of Ayurveda to Prajapati Daksha who, in turn, passed it on to the Ashwinikumara twins who were the physicians to the gods. The Ashwinikumaras then offered this knowledge to Lord Indra. Lord Indra instructed Dhanwantari to spread this invaluable science of longevity on the earth. Sushruta, a renowned surgeon and student of Dhanwantari, wrote his famous compendium on surgery – the Sushruta Samhita. The credit for the famous treatise on general medicine, the Charaka Samhita, goes to Charaka who probably lived sometime between the second century B.C. and the second century A.D.. Sushruta Samhita and Charaka Samhita are the two ancient treatises on which Ayurveda is based.
Ayurvedic philosophy provides a link between the living and non-living matters of the universe and indicates the origin of human and plant life from the five basic elements which are earth, water, fire, air and ether.
Principles of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is bestowed upon us by our ancestors, who were eminent and wiser and having insight into our being. Basically Ayurveda is Health promotive – preventive – curative and nutritive – all self contained.
The two principle objectives of Ayurveda are :
(a.) “Swasthyas swasthya rakshanam” – To prolong life and promote perfect health ( add years to life and life to years )
(b.) “Aturasya vikar prashamanamcha” – To completely eradicate the disease and dysfunction of the body.
Ayurveda takes the individual as whole and seeks to re-establish harmony between all the constituents in the body. Perfect balance of the tripod – Mind, Body and Spirit means perfect health.
To understand Ayurvedic treatment, it is necessary to have an idea how the Ayurvedic system views the body. The basic life force in the body is prana, which is also found in the elements and is similar to the Chinese notion of chi.
In Ayurveda, there are five basic elements that contain prana: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. These elements interact and are further organized in the human body as three main categories or basic physiological principles in the body that govern all bodily functions known as the doshas. The three doshas are vata, pitta, and kapha. Each person has a unique blend of the three doshas, known as the person’s prakriti, which is why Ayurvedic treatment is always individualized. In Ayurveda, disease is viewed as a state of imbalance in one or more of a person’s doshas, and an Ayurvedic physician strives to adjust and balance them, using a variety of techniques.