MANJISTHA (Rubia cordifolia)
Manjistha is considered to be one of the most valuable herbs in Ayurvedic medicine and has been largely used by physicians since ancient times. Charaka has categorized it as varnya (improving the complexion), jvarahara (febrifuge), visaghna (detoxifier) and purisa sangra haniya (gives from to the feaces). Sushruta has mentioned it as pittasamsamana – pacifies the pitta doshas. It is also a well known rasayana – a rejuvenative.
The plant grows throughout India, in hilly districts upto 3500 meters height. It is a perennial, herbaceous climber. The stems are often long, rough and grooved, with woody base. The leaves often in whorls of four. They are 5-10 cm long, variable, cordate – ovate to cordate-lanceolate, rough above and smooth beneath. The flowers, 0.3-2.5 cm long, blackish or greenish black, in terminal panicled glabrous cymes. The fruits are globose, fleshy, smooth, purplish black when ripe and shining. The roots are 4-8 cm long, reddish, cylindrical, flexuous, with a thin red bark.
The botanical name of Manjistha is Rubia cordifolia and it belongs to family rubiaceae. The roots contain resinous and extractive matter, gum, sugar, coloring matter, - the salt of the pigment being a red crystalline principle purpurine. The yellow glucoside manjistin and a xanthine are also present, besides garancin and orange red alizarin. Anthroquinones pentacyclic triterpenes, quinines, cyclic hexapeptides and diethylesters are also reported. Other compounds isolated are xantho-purpurin, glucose, sucrose and ruberythric acid. Alizarin, purpurin, purpurin carbohydrate, quinizarine and christofin isolated from roots. Antitumor cyclic hexapeptides – RA-V and RA-VII – isolated from roots.
Manjistha is bitter, astringent and sweet in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and has hot potency. It alleviates all the three doshas. It possesses dry and heavy (to digest attributes. It is a potent blood purifier and anti diarrhoeal.
The plant is used both, internally as well as externally. The roots of Manjistha are used for medicinal purpose. Externally, Manjistha is highly recommended in skin diseases associated with edema and oozing. The wound and ulcers dressed with Manjistha ghrta heal promptly and get dried up and well cleansed. Especially the chronic non-healing and cozying wounds respond very will. The Manjistha ointment medicated with Sat dhauta ghrta, is the best panacea for erysipelas. The burns and scalds heal up magically without scar formatuio, when treated with Manjistha ghrta. The chronic wounds are washed with the decoction of manjistha and dressed with its rasakriya (solid extract). In fractures, the external splint of Manjistha, madhuka skin and amalaki leaves is beneficial. The root powder works well, with ghee, for the medicament of acne. Used externally as a paste by itself or with honey, it heals inflammation and gives the skin an even tone and smoothness. It is a powerful dye, imparting a reddish tinge to the skin and is used in dying the clothes also. Internally, Manjistha is valuable in a vast range of diseases. In diarrhea, Manjistha works well when combined with lodhra (Symplicos racemosa) skin powder . Manjistha is benevolent in gastrointestinal ailments like loss of appetite, dyspepsia and worm infestations, as it is an appetizer, digestant, destroys ama and a vermicide. Manjistha kvatha is widely used as a blood purifier. It acts mainly on rasa and rakta srotasas, alleviates the kapha and pitta dosas and eliminates toxins. This ameliorates the vitiation of bhrajaka pitta (pitta from the skin) and imparts better complexion to the skin. Manjistha was held in high esteem by ancient sages in the treatment of skin diseases. It is widely used, till today, in various skin disorders like erysipelas, eczema, acne, scabies and allergic manifestations. Manjistha helps in controlling the irritation of nerves and pacifies the mind, hence salutary in epilepsy, especially of pitta type. The decoction of manjistha, triphala, daruharidra, guduci, katuka, nimba and vaca is used in gout with benefit.
The cold infusion of Manjistha improves the menstrual bleeding and relieves the pain in dysmenorrheal. It stimulates and cleanses the uterus, so useful in postnatal ailments. The decoction of Manjistha is useful in oligomenorrhea and amenorrhea. Manjistha is useful as an adjunct in treating hepatitis. It is an effective medicament for hoarseness of voice, due to vitiated kapha dosha and cough. It is also anti-diabetic and useful in treating urinary calculi. The plant is widely used as a rejuvenative in pigment disorders of the skin and in general debility.
Mahamanjisthadi kvatha is one of the popular preparations, used as a blood purifier and in treating various skin diseases. A clinical trial has shown the statistically significant results in acne. (Clinical evaluation of Mahamanjisthadi kvatha and Suksma Triphala in the management of acne vulgaris,
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
Manjistha malahara etc.