Manjistha, or Rubia Cordifolia to give it its scientific name, is a branched climber with small, greenish white flowers that are arranged in a cluster of round, fleshy, purple fruits. Its roots have a brownish red bark from which a red dye is obtained. This plant grows well in hilly districts, and the root has medicinal values.
Manjistha is considered to be one of the most valuable herbs in Ayurveda, the world’s oldest health care system that originated in India. The ancient physician and sage, Charaka has categorized the herb as varnya or that which improves the complexion, jvarahara, or that which reduces fever, and visaghna or that which detoxifies. It is also a well known rasayana – a rejuvenative.
Another great sage, Sushruta has mentioned Manjistha as pittasamsamana or that which pacifies the pitta doshas. Acccording to Ayurveda, it is only when the three life energies or doshas, that make up every individual’s constitution, are perfectly balanced can a person enjoy good health. These doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and any imbalance results in ill health. It is imbalances of the Pitta dosha that can be effectively countered by Manjistha.
In Kerala where Ayurveda in its purest form has been practiced for thousands of years, Manjistha has been recommended by Ayurvedic physicians from times immemorial, for its blood purifying and anti-oxidant properties. Its Ayurvedic properties are classified as being bitter, astringent and sweet in taste and heavy, dry and hot in effect.
Herb of Choice for Total Healthcare.
Manjistha is one of Ayurveda’s most popular herbs for lymphatic support. When the lymph system become sluggish, people complain of fatigue, exhaustion, skin problems, sore throats, puffy hands and feet, and weight gain. Manjistha supports the natural functions of the lymphatic system, as it facilitates nutrition of the cells and removal of wastes from the body. If chronic wounds are washed with the decoction of Manjistha and dressed with its solid extract, healing is hastened. In the case of fractures, an external splint of Manjistha is beneficial. Manjistha is used in treating hepatitis, diabetes and urinary calculi.
Manjistha is a very good skincare herb. Used externally and internally, it makes the skin lustrous and glowing and helps to remove pimples, freckles and discoloration. Its finely crushed powder can be simply applied on the face after mixing it with little honey. A combination of 100 gms dried and crushed orange peels and 50 gms each of sandal powder, turmeric and Manjistha, makes an excellent face pack. So Manjistha not only prevents health problems, heals and cures, it beautifies as well. This is what makes it Ayurveda’s herb of choice for total healthcare, not just in the past, but today too.