11 Health Benefits Of Manjistha You Should Tap Into

Manjistha has benefits for the skin, liver, and kidney.

Manjistha, Indian maddar, or Rubia cordifolia has a stellar reputation in traditional medicine, featuring in a range of herbal formulations as well as cosmetic preparations. The stems, roots, and shoots of this perennial, prickly climber with a red bark find a place in many remedies, though the root is used most extensively. Compounds such as anthraquinones, bicyclic hexapeptides, quinones, and iridoids in manjistha are responsible for many of its beneficial properties. Here’s what you should know about the health benefits of manjistha.

1. Improves Your Complexion

Manjistha forms a part of many ayurvedic formulations that are beneficial for your skin. It is part of manjisthadi tailam and kumkumadi tailam, which are applied to get a glowing complexion, and also in kanak tailam, which fights premature aging and wrinkles.1

In ayurveda, manjistha is described as having “varṇya” property, that is, it can improve your complexion and make it lustrous. Traditionally, powdered dry roots and stem of this plant are mixed with honey and applied to erase dark spots and give you an even-toned complexion. Studies show that manjistha might indeed have a skin lightening effect. A pigment known as melanin is responsible for your skin color – the more melanin you have, the darker your skin is. Excessive deposits of melanin also lead to tan, freckles, brown spots, and hyperpigmentation disorders like melasma. If an uneven skin tone or blemishes are an issue you are grappling with, manjistha may be able to help by reducing melanin levels. It does so by inhibiting an enzyme known as tyrosinase which plays an important part in the production of this pigment.2 3

id="tackles-acne">2. Tackles Acne

Manjistha can help you get rid of those annoying zits. Traditionally, the powdered root is mixed with ghee, or the pulp of the whole plant is applied along with honey to treat acne. Research indicates that manjistha acts against bacteria such as Propionibacterium

acne and Staphylococcus epidermidis which play a role in the development of pimples. Moreover, its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties also help fight acne.4

3. Helps Heal Wounds And Relieve Pain

Manjistha poultices and pastes are used by ayurveda for a variety of skin problems and injuries and can tackle irritation, swelling, pain, and inflammation.5

Manjistha has been traditionally been used to heal cuts and wounds. An animal study that examined the scientific validity of this folk remedy found that applying a gel containing manjistha extract was able to significantly improve wound contracting ability, tissue regeneration, and wound closure. It could also bring about a reduction in the surface area of the wound. Researchers suggest that anthraquinones and tannins present in this medicinal plant may be responsible for its wound-healing action.6 Animal studies have also shown that oral administration of manjistha extract can ease pain and even ease fever associated with inflammation.7

id="eases-eczema-symptoms">4. Eases Eczema Symptoms

Eczema is a common skin condition which results in itchy reddened skin and oozing blisters. Ancient ayurvedic texts describe the use of manjistha to treat a skin disease named “vicharchika” which exhibits symptoms similar to eczema.8 And as it turns out, scientific research also indicates that this ancient ayurvedic remedy just might be able to ease eczema. One study that examined the impact of using an ointment containing manjistha for a period of 2 weeks on people with this condition found that it significantly improved symptoms. On average, they observed an improvement of 62.06% in the symptoms of this disorder, with some participants showing an improvement of 50% in just 4 days.9

id="helps-deal-with-psoriasis">5. Helps Deal With Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin disease that develops when skin cells get replaced more quickly than is normal, resulting in crusty, flaky red patches with silvery scales.10 This condition is linked to the excessive proliferation and abnormal differentiation of skin cells known keratinocytes. And manjistha may help deal with this condition. In vitro studies show that extracts from the roots have an antiproliferative effect on keratinocytes.11

6. Fights Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress can take quite a toll on your health and contribute to a range of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. It develops when your immune system cannot neutralize all the free radicals generated inside your body. Free radicals are an inevitable byproduct of the conversion of food to energy in the body but it can also be formed by overexposure to toxins whether via refined or processed foods, tobacco, alcohol, or environmental pollutants.12

Manjistha is considered one of those rare herbs in ayurveda which has both soma (cooling) and agni (heating) properties.

While it is important to finetune your lifestyle and diet to keep free radicals in check, foods with antioxidant properties can help you fight the good fight. Manjistha is one such superfood that has potent antioxidant benefits and can scavenge free radicals. It also helps that it has anti-inflammatory properties, which can counter the effect of chronic inflammation, another immune response that can wreak havoc on your body. So go ahead and kill two birds with one with manjistha!13 14

id="counters-stress">7. Counters Stress

Animal studies have found that manjistha can act against chemically induced amnesia to improve memory as well as enhance learning ability. This ancient plant may be able to keep your mind sharp and protect you from succumbing to pressure and stress.15

From raising your blood pressure to causing backaches and acidity and worsening ulcers, stress can wreak havoc on your body. If you are feeling overwhelmed by daily pressures and it is taking a toll on your health, manjistha can help. One animal study found that it mitigated the effects of stress that was induced in rats by physically restraining them in a cold environment. Manjistha extract was found to significantly reduce acidity and ulcer index in these animals. But that’s not all – it also had a beneficial effect on corticosterone and dopamine levels which play a role in your body’s response to stress.16

id="treats-allergies">8. Treats Allergies

Manjistha is an emmenagogue that can boost healthy and regular menstruation. It is also used in ayurveda to treat menstrual disorders.17 18

Manjistha has been used in ayurveda to fight allergies. Scientific research backs up its effectiveness. So how does it work? Research indicates that it can stabilize mast cells of the immune system and prevent the release of chemicals like histamine. This, in turn, reins in symptoms such as a running nose, itchy skin, or watery eyes which occur during an allergic reaction.19

9. Protects Your Liver

Your liver works tirelessly to eliminate toxins from your body. However, this hardworking organ can also be damaged by an assault of toxic substances ranging from smoke and environmental pollutants to some medicines. Manjistha might be able to exert a protective effect here. One animal study found that a compound known as rubiadin in manjistha was able to rebalance liver enzymes which were thrown out of whack due to exposure to the liver-damaging chemical carbon tetrachloride. It was also found to display a strong hepatoprotective effect and can be used to strengthen the liver.20 21

10. Boosts Kidney Function

Research shows that manjistha can protect your kidney against the harmful effects of toxic chemicals. One study looked at the impact of administering extracts of manjistha along with a drug used in chemotherapy that has a toxic effect on the kidney. Use of the chemotherapeutic agent resulted in elevated levels of creatinine and urea in the blood. These are waste products that are normally cleared by your kidney and high levels indicate a slowing down of the functioning of your kidneys.22 But treatment with manjistha extracts restored the elevated levels of creatinine and urea to normal.

This particular drug used in chemotherapy is thought to affect the kidneys due to its ability to deplete the antioxidant defense system. The free radical scavenging and antioxidant property of manjistha, in turn, may have a protective effect.23

11. Protects Against Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are quite common, with up to 2 in 20 women and 3 out of 20 men developing them at some point in their lives.24 They form when waste products turn to crystals, accumulate inside your kidney, and eventually develop into a stone-like lump. Manjistha might be able to prevent the formation of kidney stones to an extent. In one animal study, mice were administered ethylene glycol to induce kidney stones. But when these subjects were given an extract of the root of manjistha, it was able to modulate the excretion of minerals such as calcium, phosphate, and oxalate in the urine which are associated with the formation of stones.25

12. Boosts Immune System Function

We are surrounded by harmful pathogens that can cause infection and disease. While an active immune system protects and defends us from these, many factors can suppress your immune system and leave you vulnerable to disease. For instance, alcohol and the toxin lead nitrate have been known to have this effect. Animal studies show that manjistha can protect against the impairment of your immune system by these substances. In both these instances, the immunosuppression was found to occur due to oxidative stress and manjistha had a protective effect due to its potent antioxidant properties.26 27

13. Supports The Lymphatic System

Traditionally, manjistha has been used for purifying blood and helping with the proper functioning of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system, an integral element of your immune system, transports fluids throughout your body. It is responsible for nourishing the tissues and draining waste and toxins from your body. Manjistha is believed to have a powerful influence on the lymphatic system, boosting its performance when it is sluggish or easing any lymphatic congestion that in turn can affect your whole body. Its benefits for the skin and female reproductive health are linked strongly to its impact on the lymphatic system.28 29

14. Fights Cancer

Manjistha has traditionally been used in ayurveda to treat uterine and ovarian cancers. And lab studies show that it can act against cancer cells in the colon, breast, and liver. It also has anti-tumor activity against various cancers such as myeloid leukemia and histolytic lymphoma.30 Some research indicates that cyclic hexapeptides and quinones present in this plant are responsible for its anticancer activity.31 However, do keep in mind that it’s early days yet. More research is required in this area before manjistha can be effectively used to battle cancer. You can, however, check with your doctor whether manjistha can be beneficial as a supplementary treatment.32