Andrographis: Snapshot


The leaves of Andrographis panicutata have been used as Prophylaxis and symptomatic treatment of upper respiratory infections, such as the common cold and uncomplicated sinusitis, bronchitis and pharyngotonsilitis, lower urinary tract infections and acute diarrhoea. Based on animal and laboratory studies, andrographis may have many other potential therapeutic uses, including as an anti-inflammatory agent and as a treatment for chemically induced liver damage.

Botanical Name

Andrographis paniculata

Part Used

Aerials

Common Names

Kalamegha (Sanskrit); Kalmegh (Hindi); king of bitters, Chuan-Hsin-Lien, Chuan-Xin-Lian, I-chien-his, Creat, Green Chiretta, senshinren, kirata, chiretta, chuan xin lian

Brief History

Andrographis paniculata is known in Indian medicine as Kalmegh or Chiretta, and in Thailand as Fah-talai-joan. The whole plant has traditionally been used to treat snake-bite, malaria, irregular stools, loss of appetite and flatulence. This plant was the only known remedy against malarial fevers until the discovery of quinine yielding Cinchona trees in central South America.

Widely grown in southeastern US for fodder, to control erosion and sometimes as an ornament. It is also cultivated in China and Japan for the textile fibres and for its roots. First mentioned in Chinese medicine in the Shen Nong Canon of Herbs (206BC and AD23). From this time onward, Chinese herbalists have considered it to be a remedy for muscular pain and a treatment for measles.

Cultivation

Andrographis_paniculata_herbAnnual herb, 30-60 cm high, very bitter, having stem erect, 4-angled , much branches.

Andrographis is distributed over tropical Asia often in isolated patches, and can be found in a variety of habitats such as plains, hill slopes, wastelands, farms, dry or wet lands, sea shores and even on road sides. It is found in tropical regions of Asia, in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. In India it is common, favouring tropical moist deciduous forests where it grows as an understorey plant.

Constituents

Flavonoids, lactones (andrographolide, deoxyandrographolide), aldehydes, alkanes, ketones, paniculide, polysaccharides (galacturonic acid, galactose, rham- nose, arabinose)

Edible

Usually drunk as a tea with warmer herbs like cinnamon, cloves and cardamon.

Therapeutic Properties

Bitter tonic, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antibacterial, choleretic, liver protective, mild immunomodulant.

Vitalist Properties

Flavour: Bitter

Temperature: Cold

Moisture: Dry

Polarity: Yin

Dosage (Divided Daily)

Dried Leaf: 500 – 6,000 mg per day

Andrographolides: 60 – 100 mg per day

Tincture: 3 – 12 mL per day (1:2)

Therapeutic Indications

AIDS, bronchitis, cancer, cholera, colds, diabetes, dysentery, ear infection, E. coli, flu, hepatitis, herpes, HIV, kidney infection, leprosy, malaria, pneumonia, sore throat, staph infection, sinusitis, tonsillitis, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, and whooping cough.

Primary Uses

Andrographis is an ancient medicinal herb with an extensive history in Asia. It has been used for centuries to treat upper respiratory infections, fever, herpes, sore throat, and a variety of other chronic and infectious diseases. In Scandinavian countries, it is commonly used to prevent and treat the common cold. There have been conclusive studies of its use against cancer, AIDS, and a variety of bacterial and viral diseases. Benefits of andrographis for specific health conditions include the following:

Cold, fever, and flu

Andrographis prevents infections with rhinoviruses, the type of viruses most often responsible for the common cold. Andrographis also relieves runny nose, headache, sore muscles, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue, although a dose of 1,200 milligrams or more a day may be needed for this effect. Andrographis has also been used to reduce fever and pain, and for disorders of the intestinal tract.

Diarrhea

Extracts of andrographis have been shown to have significant effects against the diarrhea associated with E. coli bacterial infections. In one study, chronic inflammation of the colon was treated with a combination of 60 grams of andrographis and 30 grams of rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa), with a cure rate of 72%. Twenty-six percent experienced symptomatic relief.

Liver and gallbladder problems

The primary active ingredient in andrographis – andrographolide – increases bile flow and the levels of bile salts and bile acids. It was found to be more potent than silymarin (an active ingredient in milk thistle), which is used clinically as a hepatoprotective agent. Also, the andrographolides present in andrographis are potent stimulators of gallbladder function, therefore reducing the probability of gallstone formation.

HIV/AIDS

Andrographis counteracts the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in at least four different ways. Studies at the University of California have shown that a combination of chemicals in the herb keeps the virus from attaching to healthy T cells. This keeps the cells from becoming infected. Manufacturer-reported studies found the herb also fights HIV in cells once they have become infected. Also a natural protease inhibitor, andrographis is currently being studied for this property. Compounds in the herb make it more difficult for HIV to take over a “control enzyme” in certain T cells that force the cells to make copies of the virus. This action is the same as the action of the AIDS drug zidovudine (Retrovir, better known as AZT), and taking andrographis makes it possible for doctors to treat AIDS with lower doses of AZT and fewer side effects. Finally, andrographis keeps HIV from activating an “off-switch” that causes uninfected T cells to die. The use of this herb reduces viral load while helping maintain T-cell counts.

Contraindications

Contraindicated during pregnancy, and in cases of known allergy to plants of the Acanthaceae family.

Bitters are contraindicated in states of hyperacidity, especially duodenal ulcers.

Cautions: 

• Anaphylactic reactions may occur if the crude drug is injected.

• Use with caution during lactation and in oesophageal reflux.

• Large oral doses may cause gastric discomfort, vomiting and loss of appetite.

• Headache, urticaria and chest discomfort have been reported.

 Drug Interactions: 

• Avoid with immunosuppressive medication (Neoral, Cicloral, Cylosporin).

• Suspend use of concentrated extracts 1 week before major surgery.

• Additive effects are possible with antiplatelet or anticoagulant medication; observe patient.


Bibliography

Balch, P. A. (2002). Prescription for herbal healing. New York: Avery.

Bone, K. (1996). Clinical applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese herbs : monographs for the western herbal practitioner. Warwick, Qld., Phytotherapy.

Herbalpedia 2011

Skenderi, G. (2003). Herbal vade mecum : 800 herbs, spices, essential oils, lipids, etc., constituents, properties, uses, and caution. Rutherford, N.J.: Herbacy Press.

Ulbricht, C. E., & Natural Standard (Firm). (2010). Natural Standard herb & supplement guide : an evidence-based reference (1st ed.). Maryland Heights, Mo.: Elsevier/Mosby.


All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.

One Comment

  1. Elizabeth Tabary-Collins says:

    Very clear and precise Jorge. Thank you once again.

    Liked by 1 person

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