Useful information

Madder dyeing: medicinal and coloring properties of roots

Madder (Rubia tinctorum syn. Galium rubuim)

The popular names of madder - alizarin, crapp, dyeing root - indicate that it has long been used as a dyeing plant for dyeing the skin red.

In ancient times, it was used to treat jaundice and paralysis, and also as a diuretic for edema.

Madder dye (Rubia tinctorum) - a perennial herb with weak, thin, tenacious, very rough to the touch, climbing stems, sometimes reaching a length of several meters. The root system is powerful and branched, consists of the main root and lateral roots extending from it and creeping horizontal rhizomes. Leaves are lanceolate, collected in whorls of 4-6 pieces. The whole plant is as hard to the touch as sandpaper. The flowers are small, yellowish-green, gathered in spreading panicles. Fruits are black, juicy, berry-shaped drupes. Madder blooms from June to September, the fruits ripen in September-November, and do not have time to ripen in the northern regions.

In the wild, madder is found in the southern regions of the European part of Russia, in the Caucasus. It grows along the banks of the rivers among the bushes.


Madder medicinal raw materials


The rhizomes and roots of madder are dug up in the fall with a shovel. The excavated rhizomes should be shaken off the ground. They are washed only as a last resort, if the soil is clayey and wet, and it is impossible to shake it off. The finished raw materials are dried at a temperature of 45-50 °. The shelf life of raw materials is 3 years for medical purposes, and longer for obtaining a dye. Freshly dug roots are yellow, and only after drying do they turn red.

Madder dyeing, digging out raw materials


Madder medicinal properties


Active ingredients. Rhizomes contain organic acids (citric, malic, tartaric), triterpenoids, up to 4% (according to some sources - up to 5-7%) anthracene derivatives, primarily alizarin (1,2-dihydroxyanthraquinone), rubiadin, purpurin, pseudopurpurin, etc.) , which form water-soluble complexes with calcium ions. Therefore, it has long been used to prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Application... Madder preparations have long been used not only in folk, but even in scientific medicine. They have a diuretic effect, promote loosening and rapid removal of stones from the kidneys and bladder, relax the muscles of the renal pelvis and ureters. They bring the greatest effect on stones of phosphate (calcium and magnesium phosphates) and oxalate origin. Therefore, they are prescribed for kidney stones, nephropielitis, cystitis, as well as nocturia and urinary tract spasms associated with prostate adenoma and prostatitis.

Traditional medicine uses madder for osteochondrosis.

But it is better not to use madder alone in the form of infusions and decoctions, or do it under the supervision of an experienced herbalist. Currently, dry madder extract is produced in tablets, when taken, it is easier to correctly observe the dosage.


Madder dye, roots



Interestingly, when madder is taken inside, the urine turns red. If it turns brown, the dosage must be reduced. Overdose can cause pain and exacerbate chronic urological diseases. In addition, madder is contraindicated in acute and chronic glomerulonephritis, kidney stones with impaired renal function and stomach ulcers.

In addition, due to the biotransformation in the body of the products of lucidin and rubiadin, which have a genotoxic effect, madder preparations are not used today in a number of countries.


Madder dyeing properties

But as a coloring plant, madder is very interesting. Its history begins with the times of Ancient Egypt, Ancient India and Persia. Since the 18th Egyptian dynasty (1552-1306 BC) madder has been used to dye fabrics red and purple. In ancient times, it was a budget replacement for expensive purple.Through the Alps, the plant moved to Central Europe thanks to the Benedictine monks. In the Capitullar de villis of Charlemagne, madder has a good reputation as an effective medicinal and dyeing plant that should be grown in culture. In France, during the VIII-XIX centuries, there were large madder plantations. This is due to the fact that the soldiers had red pants, and there were no synthetic dyes at that time and, accordingly, a large number of madder roots were required for the production of the uniform until the First World War. Turkish bright fez also could not do without madder and acquired their wonderful color thanks to this plant.


Powdered madder root - krapp


Growing madder


The soil... Madder is quite unpretentious. For its successful cultivation, light and well-moistened soils are preferred.


If you plant madder on heavy clay and dry soils, then the rhizomes grow slowly and get thin. It is better to plant the plant in a separate area, and not among other perennials. In the future, it can be difficult to dig it out right away, small roots remain in the soil and for years it germinates on the site like a weed.

When preparing the site, be sure to add peat or compost - 4-5 buckets per 1 sq. M. Add 15-20 g of complex mineral fertilizers. Dig the soil as deep as possible and select all perennial weeds so as not to look for madder in thickets of sow thistle or wheatgrass, because it grows very late after winter.

Sowing seeds... Sow the seeds when the soil warms up to 8-10 °, to a depth of 5-6 cm. You can even not seeds, but whole berries. The distance between the rows is 45-60 cm.

Madder (Rubia tinctorum)

Propagation by rhizomes... It is even easier to propagate madder vegetatively - by rhizomes. Place segments 6-8 cm long in grooves 8-10 cm deep at a distance of 10-15 cm from each other and cover with soil. When planting in the fall, they also need to be slightly spud. In spring, plants can already be fed with mineral fertilizers.

Care... All further care consists in weeding and watering during drought. It is necessary to loosen very shallowly so as not to damage the surface rhizomes. Without watering, the plants will not dry out, but the root yield will be less. It is very important to cover the plant with about 10 cm of soil in the fall. This will also significantly increase the yield of the roots.

In the fall of the second or third year, the rhizomes can be dug up. They are the medicinal raw materials. Leave the small ones in the ground, they will "grow" in 1-2 years.


It is better to place madder, as mentioned above, in a separate area, not planting next to other medicinal or ornamental plants.

Madder (Rubia tinctorum)Madder (Rubia tinctorum)

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