Health benefits of Indian Madder

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Indian Madder Quick Facts
Name: Indian Madder
Scientific Name: Rubia cordifolia
Origin Greece, North Africa, Siberia, Manchuria, China, Japan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Sikkam, Nepal, and Tibet
Colors Green when young turning to bluish-black, sometimes red or purple
Shapes Small globose or 2-lobed berry, 4-6 mm in diameter
Taste Bitter, astringent, sweet
Health benefits Fights Cancer, Supports the Lymphatic System, Anti-Inflammatory, Stop Diarrhea,Treats Urolithiasis, Weight Loss, Stop Cough, Heals Jaundice, Eases Eczema Symptoms,Good for Sensitive Skin, Protects Against Kidney Stones, Treats Allergies, Helps Heal Wounds and Relieve Pain, Helps Deal with Psoriasis, Increases White Blood Cell Deposits, Irregular Periods / PCOD, Protects Your Liver, Fights Oxidative Stress, Halts Bleeding, Hair Loss, Boosts Kidney Function, For Stress, Healthy Hair, Breast Reduction, Herpes
Rubia cordifolia or Manjishtha, often known as Indian madder or common madder, is a species of flowering plant in the coffee family, Rubiaceae. It has been cultivated for a red pigment derived from roots. The plant is native to Greece, North Africa, Siberia, Manchuria, China, Japan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Sikkam, Nepal, and Tibet. In Pakistan, it is commonly found in Waziristan, Murram, Peshawar, Dir, Chitral, Swat, Gilgit, Muree Hills, Poonch, and Abbottabad. Common names of this plant include manjistha in Sanskrit, Marathi, Kannada and Bengali, majith in Hindi and Gujarati, tamaralli in Telugu and manditti in Tamil. Apart from that it is also known as Aromatic madder, Bengal madder, Indian madder, Madderwort, Rubia root and munjeet.

Indian Madder 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 color to a textile dye known as Rose madder. It was also used as a colorant, especially for paint, that is referred to as Madder Lake. Its roots are utilized for making medicines.  At the same time, the roots are also present in Ayurvedic healing culture, in which it is referred to as Manjistha or simply just Manjith. The Indian madder plant itself is rather controversial, because it is rather dangerous to be consumed orally, but some people just do it anyway. This plant was used in Indian medicine as a coloring agent. Indian Madders are used as food plants for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Hummingbird hawk moth

Plant Description

Indian Madder is a perennial herbaceous prickly creeper or climbing herb that grows up to 10 m long. The plant is found growing in forest edges, scrub vegetation, moist deciduous forests, grassland or open, rocky areas, shrubs, grass slopes, semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests. It prefers loamy soils with a constant level of moisture. Roots can be over 1 m long and up to 12 mm thick, long, cylindrical, flexuose with thin red bark. Stem has long internodes, slightly woody at the base, quadrangular, sometimes prickly or hispid and often glabrous.


The evergreen leaves are 5-10 cm long and 2-3 cm broad, produced in whorls of 4-7 star like around the central stem. Leaves are ovate-heart shaped, entire, pointed, and heart-shaped at base, rarely rounded, 3-9 palmately veined, and upper surface mostly hairless and rough. It climbs with tiny hooks at the leaves and stems.

Flower & Fruits

Flowers are small, 3-5 mm across, with five greenish yellow or pale yellow petals, in dense racemes. Flowering normally takes place from August–September. Fertile flowers are followed by small globose or 2-lobed berry, 4-6 mm in diameter. They are initially green turning to bluish-black, sometimes red or purple as they mature. The fruit consists of globose seeds that are 1–3 mm in diameter.

Health Benefits of Indian Madder

Indian Madder is a famous medicinal herb that is found in India, Africa and Southeast Asia. In Ayurvedic medicine, Indian Madder herb is considered as the best alternative or blood purifying herb. Listed here are some of the renowned health benefits of Indian madder:

1. Fights Cancer

Indian Madder has traditionally been used in Ayurveda to treat uterine and ovarian cancers. And lab research show that it can act against cancer cells in the colon, breast, and liver. It also has anti-tumor activity against various cancers such as myeloid leukemia and histolytic lymphoma. Some research shows that cyclic hexapeptides and quinones present in this plant are responsible for its anticancer activity. However, do keep in mind that it’s early days yet. More research is essential in this area before Indian Madder can be effectively used to battle cancer.

2. Supports the Lymphatic System

Traditionally, Indian Madder has been used for purifying blood and helping with the proper functioning of the lymphatic system. Lymphatic system, an integral element of your immune system, transports fluids throughout your body. It is responsible for nourishing the tissues and draining waste and toxins from your body. It is supposed to have a powerful influence on the lymphatic system, boosting its performance when it is sluggish or easing any lymphatic congestion that in turn can affect your whole body. Its benefits for the skin and female reproductive health are connected strongly to its impact on the lymphatic system.

3. Anti-Inflammatory

Indian madder is an anti-inflammatory herb, in fact a powerful one that is effective in treating inflammatory associated with arthritis or any other forms of joint pains. It is important for inflammation to be stopped because inflammation is an early stage of most diseases. If inflammation is not taken care of early, then chances are one is very likely to get really ill.

4. Stop Diarrhea

Indian Madder is very useful to manage diarrhea. Improper food, impure water, toxins, mental stress is the factors are responsible for aggravating Vata. This aggravated Vata brings fluid in the intestine from various tissues from the body and mixes with the stool. This leads to loose, watery motions or diarrhea. Taking Indian Madder helps to control diarrhea. This is because it improves digestive fire due to its appetizer and digestive properties. This makes the stool thick and reduces the frequency of motion. It also controls bleeding because of its astringent nature.

5. Treats Urolithiasis

Indian madder helps to treat urolithiasis, which is no other than kidney stones. Indeed, it also treats other forms of bladder diseases as well. This is so because Indian madder consists of ruberythric acid, which is a substance that tones down calcium plus magnesium, and the formation of bladder stones in the long run. At the same time, Indian madder is a good antispasmodic agent, which allows kidney stones to pass through the urinary system with eased pain.

6. Weight Loss

Indian Madder is very much useful in weight loss. Obesity is becoming a serious problem. Due to obesity many diseases and health issues are arising. Obesity is a cause for heart problems and many other problems. : Indian Madder is an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. So Indian Madder is an excellent remedy for overweight.

7. Stop Cough

Indian Madder helps to stop cough because it is a natural expectorant that reacts very quickly. An expectorant is a medicine that encourages the release of sputum by the air passages. Sputum is a mixture of saliva and mucus formed in the respiratory tract, such as phlegm. This is why expectorant is very effective in treating coughs.

8. Heals Jaundice

Indian madder is quite effective for treating jaundice. Jaundice is a discoloration of the skin, mucus membranes and the white parts of the eyeballs into yellow caused by excess bilirubin in the blood.

The physical characteristics of a person with jaundice include light-colored stools, yellow discoloration of the skin, mucus membranes and the white part of eyeballs, dark urine as well as slight rashes. Jaundice can happen mostly due to liver-related diseases, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, thalassemia as well as malaria.

9. Eases Eczema Symptoms

Eczema is a common skin condition which results in itchy reddened skin and oozing blisters. Ancient Ayurvedic texts describe the use of Indian Madder to treat a skin disease named “vicharchika” which exhibits symptoms similar to eczema. And scientific research also indicates that this ancient Ayurvedic remedy just might be able to ease eczema. One study that studied the impact of using an ointment containing Indian Madder for a period of 2 weeks on people with this condition found that it significantly improved symptoms. On average, they observed an improvement of 62.06% in the symptoms of this disorder, with some participants showing an improvement of 50% in just 4 days.

10. Good for Sensitive Skin

Indian madder root is good for sensitive skin in terms of treating acne. All one needs to do is to take 100 grams of madder root powder, and combine it with 50 grams each of orange peel, turmeric, and sandalwood in order to make a paste. Apply that paste on the skin and let it dry before washing it off.

11. Protects Against Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are quite common, with up to 2 in 20 women and 3 out of 20 men developing them at some point in their lives. They form when waste products turn to crystals, gather inside your kidney, and finally develop into a stone-like lump. Indian Madder might be able to prevent the formation of kidney stones to an extent.

12. Treats Allergies

Indian Madder has been used in Ayurveda to fight allergies. Scientific research backs up its effectiveness. Research indicates that it can calm mast cells of the immune system and prevent the release of chemicals like histamine. This, in turn, reins in symptoms such as a running nose, itchy skin, or watery eyes which occur during an allergic reaction.

13. Helps Heal Wounds and Relieve Pain

Indian Madder has been traditionally been used to heal cuts and wounds. An animal research examined the scientific validity of this folk remedy found that applying a gel containing Indian Madder extract was able to significantly improve wound contracting ability, tissue regeneration, and wound closure. It could also bring about a reduction in the surface area of the wound. Researchers suggest that anthraquinones and tannins present in this medicinal plant may be responsible for its wound-healing action. Animal studies have also shown that oral administration of Indian Madder extract can ease pain and even ease fever associated with inflammation.

14. Helps Deal with Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin disease that develops when skin cells get replaced more quickly than is normal, resulting in crusty, flaky red patches with silvery scales. This condition is associated to the excessive proliferation and abnormal differentiation of skin cells known keratinocytes. And Indian Madder may help deal with this condition. Research show that extracts from the roots has an anti-proliferative effect on keratinocytes.

15. Increases White Blood Cell Deposits

Indian madder increases the deposits of white blood cells or leukocytes. It also has the ability to treat leukopenia. Leukopenia is a deficit in the amount of white blood cells found within the blood system, which makes the patient to be more prone to infections.

16. Irregular Periods / PCOD

Indian Madder helps in regulating periods, treating postnatal ailments, and helps treat excessive abdominal pain/bleeding. Plus, it relieves pain during dysmenorrhea and encourages easy flow during the menstrual cycle. For women suffering from PCOD, mix Aloe Vera pulp with Indian Madder capsules. It helps in purifying the blood and restores uterus health leading to regular, healthy periods. For women suffering from a foul menstrual blood smell, they can take Indian Madder capsules.

17. Protects Your Liver

Liver works tirelessly to remove toxins through your body. However, this hardworking organ can also be damaged by an attack of toxic substances ranging from smoke and environmental pollutants to some medicines. Indian Madder might be able to exert a protective effect here. Research found that a compound known as rubiadin in Indian Madder was able to rebalance liver enzymes which were thrown out of whack due to exposure to the liver-damaging chemical carbon tetrachloride. It was also found to display a strong hepato-protective effect and can be used to strengthen the liver.

18. Fights Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress can take quite a toll on your health and contribute to a range of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. It develops when your immune system cannot neutralize all the free radicals generated inside your body. Free radicals are an unavoidable byproduct of the conversion of food to energy in the body but it can also be formed by overexposure to toxins whether via refined or processed foods, tobacco, alcohol, or environmental pollutants.

19. Halts Bleeding

Indian madder halts bleeding, whether it is internal or external. Internally, it stops nose bleeds, as how it is used since centuries ago. Likewise, in terms of external bleeding, it can cure chronic skin wounds by making it dry quickly.

20. Hair Loss

Some Ayurvedic herbs are also used as deodorants and cosmetic oil preparations. The shining and glowing hair is possible through Ayurvedic herbs like Indian Madder. When Indian Madder is combined with henna and hibiscus they will give your grey a darker red color which in turn makes it slightly quicker to obtain brown or black hair color when indigo is applied. Everybody desires to have a shining hair. But stressful life and due to many other factors hair fall is very high in the people. Getting a shining and dark hair is a tough aspect. But the Ayurvedic herb has the remedy for shining hair and also to reduce hair loss.

21. Boosts Kidney Function

Research shows that Indian Madder can protect your kidney against the harmful effects of toxic chemicals. One study looked at the impact of administering extracts of Indian Madder along with a drug used in chemotherapy that has a toxic effect on the kidney. Use of the chemotherapeutic agent resulted in elevated levels of creatinine and urea in the blood. These are waste products that are normally cleared by your kidney and high levels indicate a slowing down of the functioning of your kidneys. But treatment with Indian Madder extracts restored the elevated levels of creatinine and urea to normal.

22. For Stress

Many people around the world suffer from the debilitating effects of stress and anxiety. Not only does this cause emotional harm but it can also result in a variety of physical conditions like headaches, ulcers and heart issues. Luckily, a number of herbal remedies can offer a safe and effective alternative treatment to the powerful anti-stress medications on the market.

23. Healthy Hair

Indian Madder powder can also be used on your hair to keep it looking shiny and healthy and also to boost its growth. There are several different ways of using Indian Madder powder on your hair.

You can combine a tablespoon of Indian Madder powder with enough eater to make a smooth paste. Apply it to your hair and leave it in place for 30 minutes or so before washing it out. Alternatively you can combine your Indian Madder powder with an equal amount of amla powder and form a paste that you apply to your hair.

23. Breast Reduction

Some recommend that Indian Madder can be used as a natural topical treatment to reduce breast size in both men and women, though it is more frequently used for men. It is thought to do this by controlling estrogen levels. This is not supported by a scientific study, but many people swear by it.

24. Herpes

The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of Indian Madder are believed to improve outbreaks of genital herpes. It is also believed that Indian Madder has immune boosting properties that help the body fight against foreign invaders, like the herpes virus for example. However, it is not yet medically recommended to take Indian Madder to treat this condition, and this avenue requires further scientific study.

Traditional uses and benefits of Indian Madder

  • Roots are alterative, anodyne, anti-phlogistic, antitussive, astringent, diuretic, emmenogogue, expectorant, styptic, tonic and vulnerary.
  • They have an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, S. epidermidis, Pneumococci etc.
  • They are used to lower the blood pressure.
  • Roots are used internally in the treatment of abnormal uterine bleeding, internal and external hemorrhage, bronchitis, rheumatism, stones in the kidney, bladder and gall, dysentery etc.
  • Stems are used in Tibetan medicine, where they are considered to have a bitter taste and a cooling potency.
  • They are used in the treatment of blood disorders and spreading fever of kidneys and intestines.
  • Its paste should be applied in various skin disorders like itching, black spots on the face, pimple, leucoderma etc.
  • It is also seen as a great natural treatment for a wide range of women’s health issues including PMS and many of the symptoms that effect women during menstruation.
  • Indian Madder may help fight cancer, boost the immune system and help reduce inflammation. It may also help combat stress naturally.
  • Leaves are used as a poison antidote and to treat mouth sores and intestinal problems such as diarrhea in Uganda and Tanzania.
  • Root is used to treat impotence and as an aphrodisiac in South Africa.
  • Wound dressing is made by rubbing the leaves between the hand palms into a ball, which is then applied to a wound or cut to stop bleeding and as an antiseptic in Tanzania and Kenya.
  • Root decoction is used as an emetic in cases of stomach problems.
  • Root decoction is used to treat women who experience weight loss during pregnancy, urethral leak, giddiness, tingling sensations and kidney problems in Rwanda.
  • Leaves are used to treat malaria, itches and to stop bleeding, the roots to treat amoebic dysentery, cancer and cough in Ethiopia.

Ayurvedic Health Benefits of Indian Madder

  • Ascaris: Prepare a decoction of leaves and stem of Indian Madder. Drink One cup daily for best results.
  • Skin Disease: Make a paste by grinding the roots of Indian Madder with some water. Apply evenly on the affected skin.
  • Inflammation: Apply the root paste on the inflamed parts.
  • Blood Impurity: Prepare a Root decoction of Indian Madder. Drink it twice a day.
  • Burns: Take equal amount of powdered Indian madder, Red sandal wood, Chonemorpha Fragrans. Add adequate amount of Cow’s ghee. Boil for 15-20 Min. Apply 3-4 times a day.
  • Acne: Take 1 teaspoon Indian Madder Powder, 1 teaspoon Red Sandalwood, 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric and 1 teaspoon Snow Lotus. Mix all ingredients. Add water to make a paste. Apply on affected parts for 20 minutes. Wash with cold water.
  • Abscess: Take equal quantity of Indian Madder, Red Sandalwood and Snow Lotus. Grind them together. Add 1/4 teaspoon of Turmeric. Make a paste by adding water. Apply on the affected part until it dries. Wash with normal water.
  • Eczema: Take one teaspoon powder of each Indian Madder, Red Sandalwood and Snow Lotus. Add half teaspoon of Turmeric. Make a paste by adding water. Apply for 20 minutes and wash.
  • Cracked Heels: Take 50 gram Adina Cordifolia Oil, 50 gram Mallotus Philippensis Oil, 50 gram Bergenia Oil, 50 gram Indian Madder Oil, 50 gram Dandelion Oil, 50 gram Vateria Indica Oil, 100 gram Aloe Vera Gel and 50 gram Dried Kokum Powder. Put all oils in a pan. Heat the combination on a low flame. After 15 to 20 minutes, add the remaining ingredients. Stir it time to time. When the mixture becomes thick, remove from the heat. Let it cool. Store in a bottle. Use it on cracked heels at night daily.
  • Blemishes: Mix One tablespoon of Indian Madder root powder in quarter cup of water. Boil for 10-15 minutes. Add one tablespoon of Honey. Apply topically for 15 minute. Wash off with normal water.
  • Dull Skin: Take 1 Tablespoon Aloe Vera Gel, Half Teaspoon Snow Lotus Powder, 1 Teaspoon Neem Powder, Half Teaspoon Symplocos Racemosa Powder, Quarter Teaspoon Turmeric Powder and Quarter Teaspoon Indian Madder Powder.  Mix all ingredients. Add Rose water to make a paste. Apply it on your clean face. Leave it to dry. Rinse with normal water. Apply any moisturizer. Do this once or twice a week for glowing and a healthy skin.
  • Skin disease: Take 2-5 drops of Manjistha oil or as per your requirement. Mix with Coconut oil. Apply it on the affected area once or twice a day. Repeat daily to get rid of the symptoms of skin disease.

Other facts

  • Red dye is obtained from the stems and the root.
  • It is used for dyeing wool, silk, linen and cotton fabrics, as well as basket-making material.
  • Plant is traditionally grown in living fences in the northwestern Himalayas, where it helps to exclude livestock and other animals.
  • Juice of crushed fruits is bottled and used as green to bluish ink.
  • Ash of burnt stems and leaves is used as vegetable salt to soften vegetables when cooking in Tanzania.
  • Leaves are burnt and the ashes are used to treat inflammation of the mammary glands (mastitis) in cattle and also to treat itchy skin in humans.
  • Leaf decoction is administered to newly born calves with hemorrhagic diarrhea and also to treat external parasites such as fleas, ticks and mites in animals in Burundi.
  • Rubia cordifolia can be used as an ornamental climber, but in cultivated fields it can behave as a troublesome weed.


  • Pregnant women should not take Indian Madder internally. It might trigger menstruation and might lead to miscarriage.
  • Indian Madder should not be used by nursing mothers and might cause breast milk to become red.
  • The chemicals in it may cause Cancer.
  • It may change the color of the Urine, Saliva, Perspiration, Tears, and breast milk.
  • Indian Madder supplements may interact with blood thinners like Warfarin and Coumadin.
  • There are also compounds in the plant that are known to cause cancer if taken orally. It can also cause restlessness and constipation.






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