Frequently used in ayurvedic medicine, the rubia cordifolia plant may be used internally or externally to treat a wide range of disorders including those pertaining to female reproduction, the gastrointestinal tract and the skin. Preparations that include derivatives of the flowering plant are also frequently used to treat gouty arthritis, infections and urinary tract problems. Studies indicate that the medicinal plants contain flavonoids, salicylates, and sulfur. Tests reveal the plant roots also contain tannin. Also known as the common madder or the Indian madder, rubia cordifolia may be used alone, but is frequently combined with other herbs as treatments.
Taken internally in capsule form, the plant reportedly eliminates abnormal vaginal discharges and regulates menstruation cycles. The antispasmodic properties of the plant seem closely related to the ability of calcium channel blockers. This action supposedly aids in relieving painful uterine cramping. Some believe the plant also possesses the ability to eliminate the congestion and stagnation of tissues throughout the body, which cleanses the uterus and improves menstruation flow. The plant’s ability to inhibit platelet aggregation may be the contributing factor to increased blood flow.
Proponents commonly use the preparation for diarrhea and dyspepsia. The antispasmodic properties of the plant may calm cramping and increased peristalsis commonly associated with a number of gastric disorders. Some believe the plant effectively treats gastrointestinal parasites. Formulations also reportedly treat urolithiasis, commonly known as kidney stones, and decrease blood uric acid levels. Indian physicians may additionally use the plant as an adjunctive treatment for hepatitis.
Sulfur and tannins within the plant provide some antibacterial properties, particularly against strains of staphylococcus. Individuals often use rubia cordifolia for external and systemic infections. Containing salicylates similar to aspirin, the plant generally contains some anti-inflammatory characteristics and is frequently used for fevers. Taken internally or applied externally, many believe these anti-inflammatory properties aid in relieving symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
Ayruvedic practitioners commonly prescribe rubia cordifolia as a skin treatment for acne, burns or eczema, along with a host of other dermatological conditions. Containing antiseptic and astringent properties, many use plant preparations to dry oozing, eliminate infection and promote healing. Certain concoctions containing the plant also supposedly reduce skin wrinkling and remove freckles.
Rubia cordifolia grows in India, but may also be found in Africa, Asia and Greece. The roots are generally the favored part of the plant, though preparations may contain the flowers, leaves or stems. The roots typically contain a red pigment, frequently used for dyeing textiles.