Last Editorial Review: 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Bengal Madder, Dyer's Madder, Fäberröte, Garança, Garance, Garance des Teinturiers, Granza, Indian Madder, Krapp, Robbia, Rouge des Teinturiers, Rubia, Rubia de Tintas, Rubia tinctorum, Rubiae Tinctorum Radix.


Madder is a plant. The root is used to make medicine.

Despite serious safety concerns, people take madder by mouth for preventing and dissolving kidney stones, as well as and for treating general menstrual disorders, and urinary tract disorders, blood disorders, bruises, jaundice, paralysis, spleen disorders, and sciatica. It is also used to promote urination, as an aphrodiasiac, and as a tonic.

Madder is also applied to the skin for certain skin conditions and to promote wound healing.

How does work?

Some chemicals in madder might help prevent kidney stones. The chemical in madder known as alizarin might block a protein that is needed by the HIV virus to replicate.


Next to red peppers, you can get the most vitamin C from ________________. See Answer


Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of madder for these uses.

Side Effects

Madder is considered LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth. The chemicals in madder may cause cancer. Madder can also cause urine, saliva, perspiration, tears, and breast milk to turn red in color.


Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It's UNSAFE to take madder by mouth if you are pregnant. It might start your menstrual period and that could cause a miscarriage. Madder might also cause birth defects.

It's also UNSAFE to use madder if you are breast-feeding. It might harm the nursing baby, and it might turn breast milk red.


The appropriate dose of madder depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for madder. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.


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Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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Blomeke B, Poginsky B, Schmutte C, Marquardt H, Westendorf J. Formation of genotoxic metabolites from anthraquinone glycosides, present in Rubia tinctorum L. Mutat Res 1992;265(2):263-272.View abstract.

Boldizsár I, Szucs Z, Füzfai Z, Molnár-Perl I. Identification and quantification of the constituents of madder root by gas chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography. J Chromatogr A 2006;1133(1-2):259-74. View abstract.

Brinkworth RI, Fairlie DP. Hydroxyquinones are competitive non-peptide inhibitors of HIV-1 proteinase. Biochim Biophys Acta 1995;1253(1):5-8.View abstract.

Castelain M, Ducombs G. Contact dermatitis from madder. Contact Dermatitis 1988;19(3):228-229. View abstract.

Fetrow CW, Avila JR. Professional's Handbook of Complementary & Alternative Medicines. 1st ed. Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Corp., 1999.

Ino N, Tanaka T, Okumura A, et al. Acute and subacute toxicity tests of madder root, natural colorant extracted from madder (Rubia tinctorum), in (C57BL/6 X C3H)F1 mice. Toxicol Ind Health 1995;11(4):449-458. View abstract.

Kawasaki Y, Goda Y, Yoshihira K. The mutagenic constituents of Rubia tinctorum. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 1992;40(6):1504-1509. View abstract.

Lorenz D, Lucker PW, Krumbiegel G, Mennicke WH, Wetzelsberger N. Pharmacokinetic studies of alizarin in man. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol 1985;7(12):637-643.View abstract.

Myers HM. Alizarin and tetracycline binding by bone mineral. Am J Phys Anthropol 1968;29(2):179-182. View abstract.

Norton SA. Useful plants of dermatology. IV. Alizarin red and madder. J Am Acad Dermatol 1998;39(3):484-485. View abstract.

Poginsky B, Westendorf J, Blomeke B, et al. Evaluation of DNA-binding activity of hydroxyanthraquinones occurring in Rubia tinctorum L. Carcinogenesis 1991;12(7):1265-1271. View abstract.

Puchtler H, Meloan SN, Terry MS. On the history and mechanism of alizarin and alizarin red S stains for calcium. J Histochem Cytochem 1969;17(2):110-124. View abstract.

Weiner MA, Weiner JA. Herbs that heal: prescription for herbal healing. Mill Valley, CA:Quantum Books, 1999.

Westendorf J, Pfau W, Schulte A. Carcinogenicity and DNA adduct formation observed in ACI rats after long-term treatment with madder root, Rubia tinctorum L. Carcinogenesis 1998;19:2163-8. View abstract.

Westendorf J, Poginsky B, Marquardt H, Groth G, Marquardt H. The genotoxicity of lucidin, a natural component of Rubia tinctorum L., and lucidinethylether, a component of ethanolic Rubia extracts. Cell Biol Toxicol 1988;4(2):225-239.View abstract.