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Parts Used & Where Grown
Andrographis originated in the plains of India, and it also grows in China. The leaves and flowers are used medicinally.
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3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Common Cold and Sore Throat
A standardized extract providing 60 mg per day of active constituents in three divided doses
Andrographis contains bitter constituents that are believed to have immune-stimulating and anti-inflammatory actions.
Andrographis contains andrographolides that have demonstrated immune-enhancing qualities in preliminary studies. At least one double-blind trial has shown that common cold symptoms improve and recovery is faster when a standardized extract providing 60 mg per day of active constituents is taken in three divided doses, beginning as soon as possible after symptoms appear. In addition, preliminary research in Russia suggests andrographis extract may be effective for the treatment of influenza. This extract was also tested for preventing colds in a double-blind study of teenagers. After three months, the group taking 5 mg of andrographolides twice daily had only half the number of colds experienced by the placebo group.
48 to 60 mg andrographolides in two to three divided doses daily
Andrographis, with its immune system–enhancing actions, has been shown to reduce the severity of the common cold and may prevent the onset of a cold in healthy people.
Andrographis extract, either alone or combined with eleuthero extract, has been shown in a double-blind trial to successfully reduce the severity of the common cold. A double-blind study also suggests andrographis extract may prevent the onset of a cold in healthy people. These actions are thought to be due to the immune system enhancing actions of the active constituents known as andrographolides and eleutherosides, respectively.
48 to 60 mg andrographolides in two to three divided doses per day
Andrographis supports the immune system and protects against microbes.
Herbs that support a person’s immune system in the fight against microbes include the following: American ginseng, andrographis, Asian ginseng, astragalus, coriolus, eleuthero, ligustrum, maitake, picrorhiza, reishi, schisandra, and shiitake.
Double-blind trials have shown that common cold symptoms improve and recovery is faster when andrographis extract containing 48 to 60 mg andrographolides is taken in three or four divided doses daily, beginning as soon as possible after symptoms appear. In addition, preliminary research in Russia suggests andrographis extract may be effective for the treatment of influenza. This extract was also tested for preventing colds in a double-blind study of teenagers. After three months, the group taking 5 mg of andrographolides twice daily had only half the number of colds experienced by the placebo group.
Other preliminary and double-blind research has shown similar benefits for treating the common cold from a combination of andrographis extract and an eleuthero extract containing 2.0 to 2.4 mg per day eleutherosides.
Refer to label instructions
Andrographis, a traditional Indian herb, has been shown to help people with chronic viral hepatitis.
A series of cases of acute viral hepatitis were reported by one group in India, showing picrorhiza, combined with a variety of minerals, to be helpful in hastening recovery. A variety of similar reports have appeared in the Indian literature over the years, although no double-blind clinical trials have yet been published. Between 400 and 1,500 mg of powdered, encapsulated picrorhiza per day has been used in a variety of trials. Andrographis, another traditional Indian herb, has shown preliminary benefit for people with chronic viral hepatitis.
HIV and AIDS Support
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A trial of isolated andrographolides, found in andrographis, showed that they decreased viral load and increased CD4 lymphocyte levels in people with HIV infection.
A preliminary trial of isolated andrographolides, found in andrographis, determined that while they decreased viral load and increased CD4 lymphocyte levels in people with HIV infection, they also caused potentially serious liver problems and changes in taste in many of the participants. It is unknown whether andrographis directly killed HIV or was having an immune-strengthening effect in this trial.
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
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Andrographis acts as a digestive stimulant and may be helpful for indigestion.
Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production. As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
Andrographis has long been used in traditional Indian and Chinese herbal medicine. The most common reported uses were for digestive problems (as is the case with most non-toxic bitter herbs such as andrographis), snakebite, and infections ranging from malaria to dysentery.1 , 2 Interestingly, some of these uses have been validated by modern scientific research. Although the roots were sometimes used in traditional medicine, the leaves and flowers are now more commonly used.
How It Works
How It Works
The major constituents in andrographis are diterpene lactones known as andrographolides. These bitter constituents are believed to have immune-stimulating, anti-inflammatory, fertility-decreasing, liver-protective, and bile secretion-stimulating actions.3 Though some older studies suggested andrographis was antibacterial, modern research has been unable to confirm this finding.4
Several double-blind clinical trials have found that andrographis can help reduce symptom severity in people with common colds.5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 Though the earliest clinical trial among these showed modest benefits, later studies have tended to be more supportive. Standardized andrographis extract combined with eleuthero (Siberian ginseng), known as Kan jang, has also been shown in a double-blind clinical trial to reduce symptoms of the common cold.10
A preliminary uncontrolled study using isolated andrographolide found that while it tended to decrease viral load and increase CD4 lymphocyte levels in people with HIV infection, at the amount used, the preparation led to side effects, including headache, fatigue, a bitter/metallic taste in the mouth, and elevated liver enzymes (which returned to normal after the medication was stopped).11 It is unknown whether the andrographolides used in this study directly killed HIV or had an immune-strengthening effect.
Andrographis has proven helpful in combination with antibiotics for people with dysentery, a severe form of diarrhea.12 It has also shown preliminary benefit for people with chronic viral hepatitis.13
How to Use It
Andrographis is generally available as capsules with dried herb or as standardized extracts (containing 11.2 mg andrographolides per 200 mg of extract). For dried herb, 500 to 3,000 mg are taken three times per day. Standardized extracts in clinical studies of the common cold have supplied 48 to 60 mg andrographolides per day, divided into three or four doses14 , 15 For indigestion, andrographis may be taken as a tea. Use 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of the herb for each cup (250 ml) of hot water. Allow the mixture to stand for 10 to 15 minutes before drinking (sip before meals).
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Interactions with Medicines
Some people develop intestinal upset when taking andrographis. If this occurs, reduce the amount taken or take it with meals. Headache, fatigue, a bitter/metallic taste, and elevated liver enzymes were reported in one trial with HIV-infected people taking high doses of isolated andrographolides.16 This has not been reported in people using whole andrographis or standardized extracts at the recommended amounts. As with all bitter herbs, andrographis may aggravate ulcers and heartburn. The safety of andrographis during pregnancy and breast-feeding is unknown.
1. Nadkarni AK, Nadkarni KM. Indian Materia Medica vol 1. Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1976, 101-3.
2. Bensky D, Gamble A, Kaptchuk T. Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica Revised Edition. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993, 95.
3. Bone K. The story of Andrographis paniculata, a new “immune system” herb. Nutrition & Healing 1998;Sept:3, 4, 8, 9 [review].
4. Leelarasamee A, Trakulsomboon S, Sittisomwong N. Undetectable anti-bacterial activity of Andrographis paniculata (Burma) Wall. ex ness. J Med Assoc Thai 1990;73:299-304.
5. Thamlikitkul V, Dechatiwongse T, Theerapong S, et al. Efficacy of Andrographis paniculata, Nees for pharyngotonsillitis in adults. J Med Assoc Thai 1991;74:437-42.
6. Melchior J, Palm S, Wikman G. Controlled clinical study of standardized Andrographis paniculata extract in common cold-a pilot trial. Phytomedicine 1996;3:314-8.
7. Hancke J, Burgos R, Caceres D, Wikman G. A double-blind study with a new monodrug Kan Jang: Decrease of symptoms and improvement in recovery from common colds. Phytother Res 1995;9:559-62.
8. Caceres DD, Hancke JL, Burgos RA, et al. Use of visual analogue scale measurements (VAS) to assess the effectiveness of standardized Andrographis paniculata extract SHA-10 in reducing the symptoms of common cold. A randomized double blind-placebo study. Phytomedicine 1999;6:217-23.
9. Caceres DD, Hancke JL, Burgos RA, et al. Use of visual analogue scale measurements (VAS) to assess the effectiveness of standardized Andrographis paniculata extract SHA-10 in reducing the symptoms of common cold. A randomized double blind-placebo study. Phytomedicine 1999;6:217-23.
10. Melchior J, Spasov AA, Ostrovskij OV, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot and phase III study of activity of standardized Andrographis paniculata Herba Ness extract fixed combination (Kan jang) in the treatment of uncomplicated upper-respiratory tract infection. Phytomedicine 2000;7:341-50.
11. Calabrese C, Berman SH, Babish JG, et al. A phase I trail of andrographolide in HIV positive patients and normal volunteers. Phytother Res 2000;14:333-8.
12. Thanagkul B, Chaichantipayut C. Double-blind study of Andrographis paniculata Nees and tetracycline in acute diarrhea and bacillary dysentery. Ramathibodi Med J 1985;8:57-61.
13. Chaturvedi GN, Tomar GS, Tiwari SK, Singh KP. Clinical studies on kalmegh (Andrographis paniculata) in infective hepatitis. J Int Inst Ayurveda 1983;2:208-11.
14. Poolsup N, Suthisisang C, Prathanturarug S, et al. Andrographis paniculata in the symptomatic treatment of uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infection: systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J Clin Pharm Ther 2004;29:37-45.
15. Coon JT, Ernst E. Andrographis paniculata in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review of safety and efficacy. Planta Med 2004;70:293-98.
16. Calabrese C, Berman SH, Babish JG, et al. A phase I trail of andrographolide in HIV positive patients and normal volunteers. Phytother Res 2000;14:333-8.
Last Review: 06-08-2015
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