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Rubia cordifolia

Rubia cordifolia


No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Manjistha, akane, brtsod, chien-tsoa, farberwurzel, garance, manji, manjit, velmadata, Indian madder. [1]


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. R. cordifolia has, in many Asiatic countries, been a major source of red pigment, in addition to its medicinal value. [3]

Origin / Habitat

R. cordifolia is a perennial climber found throughout Asiatic and African regions of the world up to an altitude of 2500m. [2]

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. [4][5][6][7]

Plant Part Used

Root. [1]

Traditional Use

In Ayurvedic medicine, Rubia cordifolia is typically called Manjistha. The powdered root is the most common form of this medicine. R. cordifolia is found in many traditional Ayurvedic formulations including Arista, Asvagandhady, Brhanmajisthadi, Candana Sava, Jatyadi Ghrta, Kvatha Curna, Manjisthadi Taila, Phala Ghrta and Pinda Taila. [2] 

The uses of R. cordifolia in Ayurveda are manifold, and cover a wide variety of ailments. It has been used to treat urinary tract disorders, urinary discharge, jaundice, leucoderma, menstrual disorders and certain kinds of paralysis. [1] R. cordifolia has been used as an immunomodulant, blood purifier, and as an anti-inflammatory, specifically active as an anti-PAF. [8] Ayurvedic medicine also claims R. cordifolia as having antidysentric, analgesic, anthlemintic, and antipyretic activity. It has also been used to treat inflammation in the uterus, vagina, ear, eye and blood. [2] 

A paste consisting of the powdered root of R. cordifolia and honey is used topically to treat several kinds of mild and moderate skin disorders. [1] The rasa (taste) of R. cordfolia is classified as kasaya (astringent), tikta (bitter) and madhura (sweet). R. cordifolia is particularly useful in treating disorders of the Kapha dosha, as it pacifies Kapha and Vata while stimulating the Pitta dosha. [1]


1-3g Powder, 56-112 ml Decoction one to three times per day or as directed. [1]



Current research has investigated the important role of Rubia cordifolia in cancer prevention and treatment. Numerous laboratory and animal studies have reviewed and confirmed its cytotoxic activity in some cancers. [9][10][11] It has been identified that R. cordifolia also could be used to inhibit topoisomerase. [12] 

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. [13] 

R. cordifolia has also displayed notable antioxidant activity. [14] The antioxidant behavior is comparable to or better than Vitamin E and EDTA. [15] The antioxidant activity of R. cordifolia was found to be in the form of regulating glutathione oxidation. [8] In laboratory analysis, it also demonstrated a reduction in lipid peroxidation through a direct interaction with iron. [16] 

Studies have also demonstrated the role of R. cordifolia as an effective treatment for various hepatic disorders. [17] R. cordifolia has been the subject of laboratory studies on Hepatitis B, as it inhibits secretion of the Hepatitis B surface antigen. [18] This may be due to the activity of R. cordifolia as both an antimicrobial and an antiviral. [18][19] 

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. [20] An animal model also suggests that R. cordfiolia may enhance GABA levels in the brain. [21]


No documentation.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

Based on pharmacology this herb should not be used by those being treated for Hepatitis B unless directed and monitored by a physician. [18]

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Not to be used by those with kidney or liver disease.


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Read More

  1) Botanical Info

  2) Western Herbs

  3) South Africa Herbs


  1. Kapoor, LD. CRC Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2001.292.
  2. S. Pathania, R. Daman, S. Bhandari, B. Singh and Brij La. Comparative Studies of Rubia cordifolia L. and its Commercial Samples. Ethnobotanical Leaflets.2006;11: 179-188.
  3. Ferreira ES, hulme A, McNab H, Quye A.The natural constituents of historical textile dyes. Chem. Soc. Rev., 2004; 33:329 – 336.
  4. 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.
  5. Kannan M, Ranjit A, Narayanan M.Phytochemistry and Ethanopharmacological Studies on Rubia cordifolia Linn. (Rubiaceae). Ethnobotanical Leaflets.2009.13:338-342.
  6. 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.
  7. 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(37):9.
  8. 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. Mar1994;32(3):180-183.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 Jan2008;18(2):808-811.
  11. Itokawa H, Ibraheim ZZ, Qiao YF, Takeya K. Anthraquinones, naphthohydroquinones and naphthohydroquinone dimers from Rubia cordifolia and their cytotoxic activity. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). Oct1993;41(10):1869-1872.
  12. 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.
  13. Tripathi YB, Singh AV. Role of Rubia cordifolia Linn. in radiation protection. Indian J Exp Biol. Jul2007;45(7):620-625.
  14. Tripathi YB, Sharma M. Comparison of the antioxidant action of the alcoholic extract of Rubia cordifolia with rubiadin. Indian J Biochem Biophys. Oct1998;35(5):313-316.
  15. Tripathi YB, Sharma M, Manickam M. Rubiadin, a new antioxidant from Rubia cordifolia. Indian J Biochem Biophys. Jun1997;34(3):302-306.
  16. Tripathi YB, Sharma M. The interaction of Rubia cordifolia with iron redox status: a mechanistic aspect in free radical reactions. Phytomedicine. Mar1999;6(1):51-57.
  17. Rao GM, Rao CV, Pushpangadan P, Shirwaikar A. Hepatoprotective effects of rubiadin, a major constituent of Rubia cordifolia Linn. J Ethnopharmacol. 20Feb2006;103(3):484-490.
  18. 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. Mar1996;59(3):330-333.
  19. 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. 23Jan2009;14(1):566-572.
  20. Patil RA, Jagdale SC, Kasture SB. Antihyperglycemic, antistress and nootropic activity of roots of Rubia cordifolia Linn. Indian J Exp Biol. Dec2006;44(12):987-992.
  21. Kasture VS, Deshmukh VK, Chopde CT. Anticonvulsant and behavioral actions of triterpene isolated from Rubia cordifolia Linn. Indian J Exp Biol. Jul2000;38(7):675-680. 

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