Indian Madder: Best Herb for Acne, Freckles, Anti-ageing (Rubia Cordifolia)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Common Names

3. Vernacular Names

4. Synonyms

5. Classical Categorization

6. Distribution

7. Morphology

8. Ayurvedic Properties

9. Chemical Constituent

10. Identity, Purity, and Strength

11. Ayurvedic and Pharmacological Actions

12. Health Benefits

13. Therapeutic Uses

14. Official Part Used

15. General Doses

16. Side Effects

17. Formulations

“Indian Madder is considered best herb since immemorial time for acne, blemishes, pimples, freckles, dark spots and anti-aging.”

1. Introduction

The Latin name Rubia cordifolia is derived from words “Rubia” (meaning red) and “cordifolia” meaning cordate shaped leaves of the plant. The plant yields plenty of red-orange colouring which are used for dyeing and fabrics.

Indian Madder is an age old ethnic medicinal plant used to cure diverse form of skin ailments. Since ages it is used by women folk as a home remedy for acne, blemishes, imparting natural glow and complexion enhancing drug.

Ancient treaties like Charaka and Sushrut also validate the age-old claims of being the best blood purifier drug. Sharangdhar, Chakraduta and Vrindamadhav also mention about the use of Rubia Cordifolia in treatment of acne, skin disease, and bleeding disorders.

It has also been enlisted in Chinese Pharmacopoeia for the treatment of circulatory disorders, uterine disorders, bleeding and joint disorders. Unani practitioners used it in menstrual disorders, urinary obstruction, detoxification, paralysis, edema, and skin disease.

Apart from the medicinal uses, it is also used as natural food colorants, hair dyes, face packs, creams, soaps, cosmetics, dyeing clothes and in veterinary machines.  

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2. Common Names

Family – Rubiaceae

Hindi Name – Manjith

English Name – Indian Madder

3. Vernacular Names

Assamese - Phuvva

Bengali – Manjistha

Gujrati – Albisam

Kannada – Manjustha

Malayalam – Manjatti

Marathi – Manjihtha

Kashmiri – Dandu

Tamil – Manjitte

Telugu – Manderti

Urdu - Manjeeth

4. Synonyms

Aruna – The stem is reddish black in colour.

Kalmeshika – It competes with the increasing age; it has anti-ageing effects.

Raktaangi – The plant parts roots, stem are red in colour.

Rasayani – The plant is immune modulator in action.

Samanga – It helps in restoring the normal complexion of entire body.

Vastraranjani – The dye extracted from its roots is used for dyeing clothes.

Yojanvalli – The climber can spread to an area of one yojan.

5. Classical Categorization

Charaka Samhita – Varnya, Vishaghna

Sushrut Samhita – Priyangvadi, Pittasansamana

Ashtang Sangraha – Priyangvadi

Dhanvantari Nighantu – Guduchyadi varga

Madanpal Nighantu – Abhyadi varga

Kaiyadev Nighantu – Oushadi varga

Raj Nighantu – Pippalyadi varga

Bhavaprakasha Nighantu – Haritakyadi varga

6. Distribution

The plant is a native of Northeast Asia extending from Japan to Africa. It is found throughout India in hilly regions up to an altitude of 3,000 ft from North to East Himalayas to Southern peninsula.

7. Morphology

It is a climbing or scrambling perennial herb which can spread up to 1.5 to 2m.

Stem – Slender, rectangular, divaricately branched, and prickly hispid.

Leaves – Rough, evergreen, arranged in whorl of four per node, oval to cordate shape, 4 to 8 cm long, 2 to 3 cm width, lower leaves than upper, long petiole, having five to seven main nerves.

Flowers – Small, greenish white to red in terminal panicled glabrous dichasial cyme, pentapetalous, sweet scented.

Fruits – Round berries of 4 to 6 mm diameter, smooth, shiny, fleshy, green in fresh state, on maturity turns red to black.

Root – Long, cylindrical, smooth about 1 m long and 12 mm thick, bright red or brownish red in color.

8. Ayurvedic Properties

Rasa (Taste): It has Tikta, Kashya, Madhur (bitter, astringent, sweet) taste.

Virya (Potency): It is ushna in nature (hot).

Vipaka (Post-digestive taste): The post-digestive taste is katu (bitter).

9. Chemical Constituent

It contains bioactive compounds like terpenes, hexapeptides, carboxylic acid and iridoids. Its root mainly contains purpurin, munjistin, alizarin, mollugin, garancin, rubifolic acid, rubimallin and daucosterol.

10. Identity, Purity, and Strength

Foreign Matter – Not more than 2%

Total Ash – Not more than 12%

Acid-insoluble ash – Not more than 0.5%

Alcohol-soluble extractive – Not less than 3%

Water-soluble extractive – Not less than 17%

(Source: The Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia of India 2001)

11. Ayurvedic and Pharmacological Actions

Ayurvedic Action

Ayurvedic classics described Indian Madder as soothing to throat, improves complexion, blood purifier, anthelmintic, antidote, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, astringent, rejuvenator, hemostatic, antipyretic, wound healing, analgesic and improves vision.

  • Doshakarma – Kapha pittahamaka
  • Dhatukarma – Rasayana
  • Malakarma - Virechan

Pharmacological Action

Indian Madder roots and stem possess astringent, thermogenic, antidysentery, antioxidant, immunomodulator, rejuvenator, antiacne, antistress, antimicrobial, antistress, expectorant, analgesic, diuretic and hepatoprotective.

12. Health Benefits

Indian Madder is traditionally used in the treatment of poisoning, inflammations, menstrual disorder, eye disease, ear disease, bleeding diarrhea, diabetes, wound, skin disease, hemorrhoids, fracture, freckles. In other systems of medicines its roots, stem decoction, paste and juice are widely sued for the treatment of edema, eczema, leprosy, leukoderma, chronic ulcers, ringworm, hematuria, menstrual disorders, constipation, stomach-ache, dysentery, headache, rheumatism, jaundice, bronchitis, cough, urinary disorders and fever.

13. Therapeutic Uses

Erysipelas – Local application of paste of Indian Madder, Lodhra, and sandal wood.

Freckles - Indian Madder powder pounded and mixed with honey should be applied on face.

Skin Disease - Indian Madder root powder mixed with honey is applied externally on blemishes, burn, to remove pimples, freckles, acne, leukoderma, dark spots, discoloration, and to enhance luster and glow of skin. Dried orange peel powder, sandalwood, turmeric, and Indian Madder makes an excellent face pack. Indian Madder kwath is used internally for same period for better results.

Uterine Purification – Decoction of Indian Madder with Ishwarimool and Pippalimool should be given to mother after delivery to purify uterus.

Bleeding Piles – Ghee cooked with the decoction of Indian Madder and Shigru is useful in bleeding piles.

Fracture – Decoction or paste for local application of Indian Madder, Arjuna, Liquorice and Sugandhbala promotes bone healing in fractures.

14. Official Part Used

Root and stem.

15. Doses

Powder – 1 to 3 g

Leaves Juice – 20 to 40 ml

16. Side Effects

Indian Madder when administrated on prolonged medication in large doses may cause headache and hematuria that may affects lungs.

17. Formulations

Manjisthadi kwath, Mahamanjisthadi kwath, Kumkumadi taila, Chandanasava, Jatyadi ghrita.

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