What is Manjistha?
Manjistha (Rubia cordifolia) is a perineal, climbing plant with a woody stem that goes by many names including majith, tamaralli, manditti, the common madder, the Indian madder, and many more. This evergreen plant is closely related to the plant from which coffee is harvested. Like coffee, this plant produces berries that range from red or purple to nearly black, and it grows small, yellow or white-green flowers that are only millimeters in diameter. It commonly grows at high altitudes (up to 3500 meters high) in the Indian Himalayas, Japan, Indonesia, Ceylon, Malay, Java, and tropical portions of Africa. Manjistha has a long history of industrial use because its long, thick roots have been used for centuries in the Eastern hemisphere to make red pigment used in fabrics and cosmetics.
Aside from its use as a dye, Manjistha roots has its figurative roots in Ancient Tibetan Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, where it was used in treating blood disorders, inflammation and skin conditions. Modern scientific practices have confirmed some of the uses of Manjistha as a medicinal plant, however most holistic practices that use Manjistha are not yet experimentally confirmed. It has been used as both a topical treatment and as an ingested supplement, and many describe its taste as being bitter, sharp, and even sweet.
One of the most common uses of Manjistha is within the holistic health practice called Ayurveda that originated in India. This practice typically involves a holistic lifestyle that involves total health of the mind, body, and spirit by incorporating a positive lifestyle with the use of traditional medicinal plants. Many who practice Ayurveda claim that Manjistha works by cleaning, nourishing, and rebuilding systems that need periodic cleansing.
Skin : It is a common practice to use Manjistha in lotion to treat rough, cracked, and/or wrinkled skin. Recipes that include Manjistha and other natural substances like honey, aloe, egg, and almond flour are typically used on the hands. Testimonial evidence suggests that results are visible within a week of daily treatment. Others say that Manjistha oil improves the quality of the skin and gives it a radiant glow.
Weight Loss : Manjistha is largely known to treat the lymphatic system, but lymphatic problems can often lead to weight gain. Taking Manjistha directly for weight loss may not be effective, but if your weight problems are related to lymphatic problems, you may have success after taking Manjistha according to anecdotal evidence. Additionally, it is thought to aid in weight loss because it helps proper liver function. These results have not been confirmed scientifically, but the long practice of its use for this purpose provides strong testimonial evidence.
Hair Color : Its ability as a pigment makes Manjistha a powerful hair dye that is very effective at coloring grey hair. Although its limited to a burgundy or reddish hue, the color is vibrant and is even used in facial cosmetics.
Hair Growth : Although research has yet to confirm this through experimentation, many believe Manjistha promotes faster, healthier hair growth. Daily supplements containing Manjistha and other herbs intended to treat hair loss and healthy growth are available.
Inflammation : The powered roots of the plant have been used since ancient times as an anti-inflammatory and are thought to reduce swelling. Scientific research shows that it reduces inflammation by inhibiting dangerous protein complexes to develop in colon cancer cells.
Face : Traditional practices recommend blending the powdered roots and stems of Manjistha with honey to treat hyperpigmentation (dark spots) and to lighten the skin on the face. Anecdotal evidence suggests using a face mask twice a week made by mixing powered Manjistha with Raktchandan (powered sandalwood), milk, and lime juice to treat the face.
Breast Reduction : Some suggest that Manjistha can be used as a natural topical treatment to reduce breast size in both men and women, although it is more frequently used for men. It is thought to do this by controlling estrogen levels. This is not supported by a scientific study, but many people swear by it.
Acne : Topical ointments and tablets containing Manjistha along with other medicinal plants have been used to treat acne. A 2013 study showed that patients treated with Manjistha and other herbs improved acne when used in conjunction with another topical treatment.
Lymph : When dealing with lymphatic symptoms or with stagnant lymph, herbal specialists recommend going through an herbal cleanse that includes doses of Manjistha. Although it has not be scientifically tested yet, it is well known anecdotally as a lymphatic decongestant. Some people claim that drinking a Manjistha based tea cures the body of general aches and pains associated with the lymphatic system.
Detox : One of Manjistha’s most popular uses is as a detoxifying agent and blood purifier, which in turn is thought to improve immune support. A 2011 study on rats showed that the use of Manjistha alone has no effect on the immune system. However, when used in combination with other treatment methods, it stimulates immune responses and protects against oxidative damage cause by lead-nitrate. Scientists suggest that the results were comparable to that of Vitamins C and E, however larger clinical trials are still needed.
Rosacea : Its anti-inflammatory and heat reducing properties are thought to reduce the reddening of the skin caused by rosacea in traditional medicine. The traditional thought behind this is that is reduces the elemental fire within the body.
Fertility : Manjistha is a component in an Ayurvedic treatment called phalasarpi intended to enhance male fertility and reverse infertility in women. Palasarpi is also used to help heal women who recently experienced a miscarriage or abortion. This is yet to be studied, but the Ayurvedic practice is long standing.
Herpes : The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of Manjistha are believed to improve outbreaks of genital herpes. It is also believed that Manjistha has immune boosting properties that help the body fight against foreign invaders, like the herpes virus for example. However, it is not yet medically recommended to take Manjistha to treat this condition, and this avenue requires further scientific study.
Liver : Its detoxifying properties lends Manjistha to be used in promoting liver health, although there is no scientific research backing this up. Aside from the liver, it is also thought to purify other digestive organs including the pancreas, kidneys, and spleen. Because of this, it is thought to prevent and treat the presence of kidney stones as well as prevent seasonal allergies.
Psoriasis : This autoimmune disease typically reveals itself through skin rashes, so it makes sense that traditional practices of using Manjistha in skin care would lend itself in treating psoriasis. However, there is scientific merit to this claim. Antiproliferative and apoptogenic agents were found in the roots of the plant and tested in 2010 study. With further testing and clinical trials, Manjistha may be confirmed as a possible psoriasis treatment. Traditional practices also dictate that it can be used to treat eczema.
Endometriosis : While not tested clinically or experimentally, the tradition of using Manjistha in treating conditions like endometriosis and abnormal menstrual bleeding is a long one. It has been used to regulate irregular periods as well. Along the same lines, it has been used for centuries to treat excessive uterine bleeding during childbirth or miscarriage.