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Indian madder roots

Chinese: 茜草

Pinyin: Qiàn Cǎo

Parts used: Dried roots and rhizomes

TCM category: Herbs that cool the Blood

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Liver

Scientific name: Rubia cordifolia

Other names: Common madder, Manjistha, Majith, Tamaralli, Manditti

Use of indian madder roots (Qian Cao) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove impurities, wash, cut, and dry.

Dosage: 3 to 9 g

Main actions according to TCM*: Cools the Blood and stops bleeding. Removes Blood Stagnation and regulates menstruation.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which indian madder roots may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Hematemesis Epistaxis Abnormal uterine bleeding Traumatic bleeding Amenorrhea Arthralgia Traumatic swelling Traumatic pain

Key TCM concepts behind indian madder roots (Qian Cao)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), indian madder roots are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that cool the Blood' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Internal Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an Excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that cool the Blood treat the latter and as such tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category indian madder roots are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that indian madder roots typically help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition indian madder roots can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Indian madder roots also taste Bitter. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like indian madder roots tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such indian madder roots are thought to target the Liver. In TCM the Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.