Andrographis paniculata Benefits

Andrographis paniculata
Latin Name

Andrographis paniculata

Also Known As

Indian Echinacea, Green Chireta

Origin

Asia

Parts Used

Leaves

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Andrographis Paniculata is an annual plant from the Acanthaceae family, the same family as the Chinese violet. It is native to India where it is highly valued in the ancient healing system of Ayurveda. It is also cultivated in China for its use in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

It is a beautiful herb that grows about a metre tall with purple and white flowers. The whole plant has a very bitter taste which is prized for its detoxifying effects, earning it the nicknames, "King of Bitters" or “Bile of the Earth”. Both the fresh and dried leaves, and the fresh juice of the whole plant are used as medicine.

Andrographis Paniculata Benefits

Immune Boosting

One of the most common traditional uses of Andrographis is to strengthen and support the immune system. Research has found that the andrographolide content of this herb is mainly responsible for its immune boosting capabilities.

A 2010 study investigating the immunomodulatory effects of andrographolide concluded that: "Andrographolide can modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses by regulating macrophage phenotypic polarization and Ag-specific antibody production. MAPK and PI3K signaling pathways may participate in the mechanisms of andrographolide regulating macrophage activation and polarization." What that means in layman’s terms is that it enhances immune cells ability to remove cellular debris and repair tissue. Macrophages are powerful effector cells of the innate immune system and andrographolide demonstrates an ability to regulate and adapt immune responses to bacterial and viral attacks.

Other studies have found Andrographis to be effective in reducing cold and flu symptoms, sore throats and lung infections. Todd Nelson MD of Denver, Colorado reports 70 – 80 percent effectiveness of Andrographis on his flu patients. It reduces the intensity of symptoms if taken within 24 hours of onset. "The combination of echinacea and Andrographis, together with vitamin C and bioflavonoids, is very effective (for severe flu symptoms)," Nelson says. Furthermore, he has never observed adverse effects, and once more research is published on Andrographis, he says, "it could become the next big immune booster."

Respiratory Health

Andrographis is one of the most widely used botanicals for promoting healthy respiration. A meta-analysis published in 2004 found seven double-blind, controlled trials with a total of 896 participants, that evaluated the use of a proprietary Andrographis extract for the treatment of acute respiratory infections. The combined results indicate that this Andrographis extract is statistically more effective than placebo for reducing symptoms.

One four day, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 158 adults with colds found that treatment with Andrographis significantly reduced cold symptoms. Fourteen participants were given either placebo or 1,200 mg daily of an Andrographis extract standardised to contain 5 percent andrographolide. The results showed that by day 2 of treatment, and even more by day 4, individuals who were given the actual treatment experienced significant improvements in symptoms compared to participants in the placebo group. The greatest response was seen in earache, sleeplessness, nasal drainage, and sore throat, but other cold symptoms improved as well.

Liver Health

The hepatoprotective action of Andrographis is mainly credited to its star compound, andrographolide. It is particularly effective against alcohol induced liver toxicity and supports high levels of glutathione in the liver, one of the liver’s main mechanisms for self-protection. The bitter compounds stimulate bile flow which promotes healthy liver function.

Andrographis paniculata enhances gall bladder function, increases bile flow, and has been found to be as effective as milk thistle in protecting the liver. Andrograholides have demonstrated protection to the liver in many studies, and effectiveness against infective hepatitis. In one study, Andrographis paniculata was given to patients with infective hepatitis and a statistically highly significant decrease was noted in various subsequent liver function tests.

Typical Use

Andrographis Paniculata Tincture

Can be added to water or fruit juice and taken when required.

Traditionally Taken: 2-3ml taken 2-3 times per day, or as directed by a Herbal Practitioner.

Folklore and History

Andrographis paniculata is deeply rooted in the traditional of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Its use as a medicinal herb dates back to 3,000 - 4,000 BCE, when Ayurvedic medicine began in India. While first administered thousands of years ago to help people achieve feelings of health and wellness, this versatile herb continues to remain popular among the more than 70 percent of people in India who practice Ayurveda

According to some historical accounts, Andrographis is credited with stopping the 1919 Indian flu epidemic that followed on the heels of the 1918 Spanish Influenza outbreak. In all, the epidemic would claim 20 to 50 million lives around the world, with at least 10 million deaths occurring in India before it was stopped. 

Andrographis paniculata
Constituents

Andrographis paniculata contains: andrographolide, a diterpene lactone compound, is believed to be the principal active agent. Other possibly active constituents include neoandrographolide, andrographiside, 14-deoxy-11,12-didehydroandrographolide, deoxyandrographolide, and arabinoglycan proteins. 

Precautions

Not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Do not use if you are taking blood thinning or blood pressure medication.

Do not use if you are undergoing chemotherapy.

Please consult your healthcare practitioner if you are taking any other prescription medications.