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Rubia cordifolia


Rubia cordifolia


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Common Madder , Bengal Madder, Madderwort, Aromatic Madder, Indian Madder.


From the Rubiaceae family, the madder plant was very useful as a dye in Mediterranean and as a medicinal in Ancient Greece.

Rubia cordifolia is a perennial climber found throughout Asiatic and African regions of the world up to an altitude of 2500m. The long, slender, grooved vines can grow to a length of several meters yield glabrous, cordate or ovate leaves. The vine yields small white flowers and spherical dark-purple or black fruit.

Origin / Habitat

R. cordifoliathrives in a neutral soil and partial sunlight. This plant is native to warm areas such as South America, Africa and southern Asia.

Chemical Constituents

Quinones: anthraquinone glycosides including rubiadin, I-hydroxy 2-methoxy anthraquinone, 3-dimethoxy 2-carboxy anthraquinone. Rubiprasin A, B, C, ruiearbonols, aborane triterpenoids. Mangistin, alizarin, garancin,  mollugin, furomollugin.[1],[2],[3],[4]

Plant Part Used


Medicinal Uses


Kidney Stones

Urine flow



Hepatic Conditions



Most Frequently Reported Uses

Kidney Stones

Urine flow



Dosage Range 

1-3g powder

56-112mL decoction 1-3 times per day or as directed.


Most Common Dosage 

2g crude herb twice daily.


Standardization Dosage

No standardization known.



Current research has investigated the important role of R. cordifolia in cancer prevention and treatment. Numerous laboratory and animal studies have reviewed and confirmed its cytotoxic activity in some cancers.[5],[6],[7] It has been identified that R. cordifolia also could be used to inhibit topoisomerase.[5]

R. cordifolia has also displayed radioprotective activity. An animal study found that R. cordifolia reduced lipid peroxidation induced by radiation as well as reduced hemopoietic injury and genotoxicity.[8]

R. cordifolia has also displayed notable antioxidant activity.[9] The antioxidant behavior is comparable to or better than Vitamin E and EDTA.[10] The antioxidant activity of R. cordifolia was found to be in the form of regulating glutathione oxidation.[11] In laboratory analysis, it also demonstrated a reduction in lipid peroxidation through a direct interaction with iron.[12]

Studies have also demonstrated the role of R. cordifolia as an effective treatment for various hepatic disorders.[13] R. cordifolia has been the subject of laboratory studies on Hepatitis B, as it inhibits secretion of the Hepatitis B surface antigen.[14] This may be due to the activity of R. cordifolia as both an antimicrobial[1] and an antiviral.[14]

In an animal model, Rubia cordifolia has also been shown to demonstrate anti-stress properties, reduced blood sugar, the occurrence of ulcer, as well as reduced corticosterone levels.[16] An animal model also suggests that R. cordfiolia may enhance GABA levels in the brain.[17]


At this time, clinical studies have not been conducted.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

Based on pharmacology, not to be used in combination with drugs that are metabolized in the liver.

Based on pharmacology, not to be used in combination with diuretics or other medications affecting or treating the kidneys.

Based on preliminary research and assumptions into the role of R. cordifolia in affecting GABA levels in the brain, this herb should not be used by those taking seizure medications.


Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Not to be used by those with kidney or liver disease. Based on pharmacology this herb should not be used by those being treated for Hepatitis B unless directed and monitored by a physician.

Not to be used by individuals with seizure disorders.

Generally considered safe when used as directed.


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

Not to be used with children

Adverse reaction

No documentation

Read More

  1) Botanical Info

  2) South Africa Herbs

  3) Ayuverda


  1. Gupta PP, Srimal RC, Verma N, Tandon JS. Biological Activity of Rubia cordifolia and Isolation of an Active Principle. Pharmaceutical Biology.1999;37(1).46-49.
  2. Kannan M, Ranjit A, Narayanan M. Phytochemistry and Ethanopharmacological Studies on Rubia cordifolia Linn. (Rubiaceae). Ethnobotanical Leaflets. 2009;13:338-342.
  3. Qiao YF, Wang SX, Wu LJ, Li X, Zhu TR Studies on antibacterial constituents from the roots of Rubia cordifolia L. Yao Xue Xue Bao. 1990;25(11):834-839.
  4. Chang LC, Chavez D, Gills J, Fong H, Pezzuto J, Kinghorn A. Rubiasins A–C, new anthracene derivatives from the roots and stems of Rubia cordifolia. Tetrahedron Letters, 2000; 41: 9-37.
  5. Son JK, Jung SJ, Jung JH, Fang Z, Lee CS, Seo CS, Moon DC, Min BS, Kim MR, Woo MH. Anticancer constituents from the roots of Rubia cordifolia L. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). Feb 2008;56(2):213-216.
  6. Lee JE, Hitotsuyanagi Y, Kim IH, Hasuda T, Takeya K. A novel bicyclic hexapeptide, RA-XVIII, from Rubia cordifolia: structure, semi-synthesis, and cytotoxicity. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 15 Jan 2008;18(2):808-811.
  7. Itokawa H, Ibraheim ZZ, Qiao YF, Takeya K. Anthraquinones, naphthohydroquinones and naphthohydroquinone dimers from Rubia cordifolia and their cytotoxic activity. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). Oct 1993;41(10):1869-1872.
  8. Tripathi YB, Singh AV. Role of Rubia cordifolia Linn. in radiation protection. Indian J Exp Biol. Jul 2007;45(7):620-625.
  9. Tripathi YB, Sharma M. Comparison of the antioxidant action of the alcoholic extract of Rubia cordifolia with rubiadin. Indian J Biochem Biophys. Oct 1998;35(5):313-316.
  10. Tripathi YB, Sharma M, Manickam M. Rubiadin, a new antioxidant from Rubia cordifolia. Indian J Biochem Biophys. Jun 1997;34(3):302-306.
  11. Pandey S, Sharma M, Chaturvedi P, Tripathi YB. Protective effect of Rubia cordifolia on lipid peroxide formation in isolated rat liver homogenate. Indian J Exp Biol. Mar 1994;32(3):180-183.
  12. Tripathi YB, Sharma M. The interaction of Rubia cordifolia with iron redox status: a mechanistic aspect in free radical reactions. Phytomedicine. Mar 1999;6(1):51-57.
  13. Rao GM, Rao CV, Pushpangadan P, Shirwaikar A. Hepatoprotective effects of rubiadin, a major constituent of Rubia cordifolia Linn. J Ethnopharmacol. 20 Feb 2006;103(3):484-490.
  14. Ho LK, Don MJ, Chen HC, Yeh SF, Chen JM. Inhibition of hepatitis B surface antigen secretion on human hepatoma cells. Components from Rubia cordifolia. J Nat Prod. Mar 1996;59(3):330-333.
  15. Li X, Liu Z, Chen Y, Wang LJ, Zheng YN, Sun GZ, Ruan CC. Rubiacordone A: a new anthraquinone glycoside from the roots of Rubia cordifolia. Molecules. 23 Jan 2009;14(1):566-572.
  16. Patil RA, Jagdale SC, Kasture SB. Antihyperglycemic, antistress and nootropic activity of roots of Rubia cordifolia Linn. Indian J Exp Biol. Dec 2006;44(12):987-992.
  17. Kasture VS, Deshmukh VK, Chopde CT. Anticonvulsant and behavioral actions of triterpene isolated from Rubia cordifolia Linn. Indian J Exp Biol. Jul 2000;38(7):675-680.


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