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Ayurvedic Herbs A-Z

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Ayurvedic Medicine





Latin Name

English Name

Sanskrit Names

Hindi Names

Rubia cordifolia
Linn. sensu Hook. f. (Rubiaceae)

Indian Madder


Manjith, Majith



History  |  Habitat  |  Morphology Description (Habit)  |  Principal Constituents  |

Indications  |   Product Range



This plant was used in Indian medicine as a coloring agent and Cakradatta recommended it as an application to the brown spots of pityriasis vesicolor. Ainslie observed that the hakims were in the habit of prescribing an infusion of this plant's root as a deobstruent drink in cases of scanty lochial discharge after lying-in. Kinnier and Tavernier noticed an abundance of this plant in Persia and Makran.



It grows widely throughout India, ascending to an altitude of 3,750m.


Morphology Description (Habit)

A very variable, prickly creeper or climber. The rootstocks are perennial; the roots, long and cylindric with a thin, red bark; the stems, four angled. The leaves are very variable, cordate-ovate to ovate-lanceolate, 2-8 in a whorl, normally 4, sometimes 1 pair is larger. The flowers are small, white or greenish, or in shades of red and yellow, sweet-scented in terminal panicles of cymes; the fruits, globose, or slightly 2-lobed, dark-purplish or black, fleshy with 2 small seeds.


Principal Constituents

Purpurin, Munjistin, Xanthopurpurin or Purpuroxanthin and Pseudopurpurin.



The roots are credited with tonic, antiseptic, and deobstruent properties. They are used in rheumatism.


Product Range


Parts Used:

Root. Each plant has a different therapeutic value and must be prepared in its own way for maximum benefits. This climbing plant is found in the northwest Himalayas and hilly districts of India.

Traditional Ayurvedic Uses:

Manjistha supports the formation of quality nutrient plasma (Rasa Dhatu), blood (Rakta Dhatu), and fat (Meda Dhatu).

Combinations are Best

The experts Ayurveda do not recommend the use of single herbs for self-care due to several important reasons:

  1. Single herbs often have unwanted effects over time, which can be canceled by herbs in proper combination.
  2. Herbs in combination are much more powerful.
  3. Good formulas address all co-factors to a health goal for much greater effectiveness.
  4. Expert combinations include herbs that increase assimilation and effective potency of the other ingredients.
  5. Herbs have different effects according to dose, and when mixed with other herbs.




Skin Its affinity for raktadhatu is specifically utilised to clean, cool and clear the blood of all excess pitta, heat, inflammation, visha (toxins) and ama. Used for itching in eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, vitiligo, acne, acne rosacea and herpes (kushta, visarpa). It normalises rakta dhatu agni. A favourite herb to help relieve pruritis when the liver and bhrajaka pitta are aggravated. Its circulatory invigorating properties make it a superb remedy for removing stubborn and chronic lesions. Also used in scabies and Tinea pedis. It also benefits these conditions when used as a wash or in a cream. It is a wonderful rejuvenative to the complexion.2

Bleeding Manjishta stops bleeding by two methods; cooling the ‘heat’ that causes blood to burst out of its proper channel, and it also clears congested blood that can cause blood to overflow out of its appropriate pathway. Very good in raktatisara and Diarrhea with bleeding; Crohn’s disease, dysentery, bleeding ulcers. It can also treat haemoptysis, epistaxis, menorrhagia, menorrhagia and haematuria in the appropriate pattern.  It acts as a vulnerary and hastens the healing time of skin trauma and broken bones.3

Gynaecology Useful in signs of congested uterus and pain (yonishula) with dysmenorrhoea fixed pain, clots, amenorrhoea and endometriosis; use a cold infusion. All menstrual imbalances involving aggravations of pitta and kapha disturbing the artavasrotas. Also used to prevent miscarriage and excessive uterine bleeding.4

Tumours/Accumulations Manjishta breaks accumulations of kapha in the bladder, liver and kidneys.

Urine Its pitta reducing quality helps to clear pittaja prameha,  particular types of diabetes involving repeated infections, boils, inflammatory conditions, neuropathy, retinopathy and nephropathy.  Also for manjishta prameha where the excessive urination is also coloured red. It is also a specific for gradually dissolving kidney and bladder stones as the anthraquinones act as chelating agents helping to draw excess calcium from the system. Also used to stop haematuria.5

Mind Its cooling effect on sadhaka pitta has a balancing effect on the emotions and is used in epilepsy and agitation with high pitta.6



+ Neem, Turmeric, Gotu kola, Aloe vera in skin conditions with high pitta.

+ Lotus node, Amalaki in bleeding with raktapitta.

+ Safflower, Shatavari, Guggul in congestion of the uterus with pain.

+ Guggul, Turmeric for tumours and accumulations all over the body.

+ Arjuna, Licorice, Myrrh, Turmeric in fractures.

+ Gokshura and Shilajit for bladder and kidney stones.

+ Sandalwood, Gokshura, Coriander for urinary discomfort with burning.



High vata.


No drug herb interactions are known.



0.5–10g/day dried or 3–12ml/day of a 1:3 @ 25% tincture.



* This tall, creeping plant has long thin roots and grows throughout the sub-continent of India, Nepal, Iran and Afghanistan.

* The red root has a specific affinity for the blood and all imbalances affecting it.

·         It is one of the primary herbs used to clear excessive pitta.

·         In all the texts that mention Manjishta, it is classified as hot (ushna) as it has a circulatory stimulating property. With all due respect, this goes against many of its therapeutic activities and my experience and so I have listed it here as cooling.

·         Manjishta has recently been banned in Germany due to concerns about its alizarin content acting as a potential carcinogenic. This is despite the fact that the studies were carried out on Rubia tinctoria not Rubia cordifolia.7 As noted above Manjishta is used for removing tumours in Ayurveda.


Manjishta is a perennial climber and like a vine it ‘spreads’ throughout the whole system, especially working on the arterial, circulatory system and skin. It literally means ‘bright red’ attesting to its red roots which have an affinity for the blood and the red pigment can be seen in the urine.



Rasa (taste) Bitter, sweet, astringent

Virya (action) Cooling

Vipaka (post-digestive effect) Pungent

Guna (quality) Heavy, dry

Dosha effect PK-, V+

Dhatu (tissue) Plasma, blood, muscles, bone

Srota (channel) Circulatory, female reproductive, excretory, bone



Glucosides – manjistin, purpuroxanthin, purpurin

Anthroquinone glycosides – lucidin, alizarin, rubiadin1



Varnya Improves complexion

Jwarahara Destroys fever

Mutrajanana Diuretic

Ashmaribhedana Lithogogue

Swedajanana Diaphoretic

Vishaghna Destroys toxins

Lekhaniya Reduces accumulations

Rakta shodhaka Blood purifier

Kandughna Eliminates itching

Raktapittahara Prevents bleeding from high pitta

Shonita sthapana Haemostatic

Vedana sthapana Analgesic

Purisha sangrahaniya Stool forming

Pittashamana Reduces pitta

Sleshmaruk Reduces kapha

Sandhaniya Bone mender

Kushtaghna Alleviates skin diseases

Yoni Uterine herb



Alterative, haemostatic, astringent, diuretic, lithotriptic, emmenagogue, anti-pyretic, anti-tumour

1 Selected Medicinal Plants of India, Williamson

2 Frawley and Lad

3 Bhavaprakasha, Bensky and Gamble 1986

4 Madanaphala Nigantu, Bensky and Gamble 1986

5 Paranjpe, Frawley and Lad, Mills and Bone

6 Paranjpe

7 Blomeke B Formation of genotoxic   metabolites from anthraquinone glycosides present in Rubia tinctorium. Mutation Research 1992;265 (2)

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