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  • Andrographis: Uses, Benefits, Dosage, Side Effects | Vital Plan
    Andrographis
    By Vital Plan
    Reviewed by Bill Rawls, MD
    Medical Director of Vital Plan

    Summary | What is it? | Benefits and How It Works | History & Traditional Use |
    How to Use and Dosing | Interactions | Precautions & Side Effects | References

    QUICK FACTS

    Common name: Andrographis
    Scientific name: Andrographis paniculata
    Other names: King of bitters, kirta or kirata (Sanskrit), kiryata (Hindi), kalmegh (Bengali, Hindi, Unani), hempedu bumi (Malaysia), creat, green chiretta, Indian chiretta, chuan xin lian (traditional Chinese medicine)
    Location: Native to India
    Known for: Its bitter taste and potent antimicrobial and immune-supportive properties
    Part Used: Aerial parts (leaf, stem, and flowers)
    Fun fact: In Scandinavia, andrographis is a popular herbal flu remedy.1
    Good for: Fighting acute and chronic infections, immune health, microbiome balance, liver protection, proper bile flow
    Key Properties & Actions: Antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitic, immunomodulating, hepatoprotective, digestive bitter tonic, cholagogue (stimulates bile flow), anti-inflammatory, antioxidant

    Summary

    Andrographis is a bitter-tasting herb renowned for its antimicrobial and immune-supportive effects. Native to India, it has long been used to support the immune system, digestion, and the liver. Modern research shows it can be helpful in fighting infections, as well as providing various other benefits.

    What is Andrographis?

    Andrographis is a shrubby annual plant whose intensely bitter leaves have led to its moniker, “king of bitters.” Growing one to three feet in height, this herb prefers the shady, moist habitat of a forest or wetland but is also seen growing in plains, hillsides, and farms. In the fall, andrographis bears small white flowers with brown or purple spots.

    White flower and fresh green leaves of andrographis paniculata o

    Although andrographis is native to India, it has been introduced to and can be found growing in China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, the islands of the Caribbean and West Indian Ocean, and parts of North America and Central America. In many areas, but especially in Asia, andrographis is prized as a traditional medicinal herb and often used for infections, fevers, and liver disorders.

    In the last few decades, research on andrographis has increased, with in vitro (in a test tube or petri dish) and in vivo (in a living model) clinical studies confirming the traditional usages of the herb. Today, it is primarily used for its microbiome-balancing, immune-supportive, and liver-protective qualities, although it offers a variety of other health benefits.

    Benefits of Andrographis and How It Works

    Antimicrobial Support

    Antibacterial Activity

    For centuries, andrographis has been used to fight various kinds of infections, including those caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. In the last decade, scientific interest in andrographis has accelerated, with particular focus on its antimicrobial qualities.
    Researchers have reported that andrographis extract possesses potent antibacterial activity against numerous kinds of bacteria.2

    An in vitro study found andrographis to inhibit the growth of bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, which can lead to antibiotic-resistant infections, Escherichia coli, which can cause digestive distress, Vibrio cholerae, which causes cholera, and Salmonella typhi, which causes typhoid fever.3

    Andrographis can also be useful in helping to break down biofilms, which shield bacteria from the efforts of the immune system and antibiotics.4

    Antiviral Activity

    Andrographolide is a biologically active compound in andrographis that is known for its broad-spectrum antiviral properties. It has been proposed that andrographolide intervenes in multiple steps of the viral life cycle, including viral entry, genetic material replication, and protein synthesis.5

    Andrographolide has shown in vitro activity against viruses like herpes simplex 1, Epstein-Barr, and influenza A.6

    More recently, in vitro studies have demonstrated the inhibitory effect of andrographolide against SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19.5

    Antifungal and Antiparasitic Activity

    In folk medicine, andrographis has been used for fungal infections for centuries. Preliminary in vitro studies justify this use, especially in relation to fungal skin infections.2,7

    Likewise, in vitro studies indicate andrographis can be of benefit when used against various parasites.4

    In a 2013 animal study, andrographis extract exerted antimalarial activity in mice infected with Plasmodium berghei, a parasite that causes malaria in certain rodents. In vitro studies have also suggested that andrographis has antimalarial action.4,8

    Enhanced Immune Function

    Andrographis is well known for having an affinity for respiratory infections as well as being able to shorten the duration of an illness.6 Its antimicrobial qualities and its ability to modulate the immune system make this possible.

    A systematic review of randomized controlled trials concluded that andrographis is beneficial in shortening the duration of and improving acute respiratory tract infection symptoms.9

    Additionally, andrographolide has demonstrated direct and indirect effects against cancer cells in in vitro studies, including inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells and inducing the destruction of cancer cells.2

    Liver Protection and Function

    Andrographis is widely used to protect the liver and support its function. Thanks to its bitter phytochemical compounds, andrographis can stimulate liver enzymes and promote healthy bile flow, which in turn, enhances digestion and detoxification.

    Andrographis’s liver-protective qualities have been well documented in modern scientific research. A 2014 animal study showed andrographis extract exerts hepatoprotective effects in acute liver toxicity situation. It was proposed that this effect was due to the herb’s ability to fight free radicals, inhibit cellular proliferation, and induce a form of programmed cell death known as apoptosis.10

    In a 2020 animal study, andrographis extract reduced oxidative stress and liver damage in mice.11

    leaves of andrographis paniculata, commonly known as creat or green chiretta, Acanthaceae, pathogen inactivation on coronaviruses is very important, note select focus

    Joint Health and Comfort

    Andrographis may be better known for its antimicrobial and liver-protective properties, but it also has the impressive benefit of easing joint discomfort. Much of this ability is due to the way it can calm overactive immune and inflammatory responses. A double-blind, placebo-controlled human study administered andrographis extract to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients three times a day. After 14 weeks, RA patients experienced decreased joint pain.12

    Animal studies show that andrographis has multiple anti-inflammatory actions that contribute to this effect. It reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines but can also encourage cell death of immune cells in joints that cause excess inflammation and tissue damage.13

    Healthy Energy Levels

    In a 2016 double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical trial, multiple sclerosis (MS) patients receiving interferon beta treatment were given 170 mg of andrographis extract or placebo two times daily over a period of 12 months. MS patients taking the andrographis extract had a significant reduction in fatigue compared to placebo.14 Although the exact mechanisms of action are unknown, the authors of the study suggest that the herb’s anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects may contribute to the reduction in fatigue.

    History & Traditional Use

    Andrographis has a long history of use in traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Unani, and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Across the board, andrographis has been relied on to enhance immune function, resist infections, support digestion, and protect the liver.

    In Ayurveda, an ancient Indian medical system, andrographis is a common ingredient in herbal formulations used for liver conditions.15 It is also commonly used to increase appetite and strengthen digestion. The leaf juice is a traditional household remedy for stomach distress, but it is also used to remove parasites, promote bile flow, and reduce fever. Just after the Spanish flu of 1918, the Indian flu hit in 1919, and andrographis was used widely and largely credited with helping halt the spread of the epidemic.

    From a TCM perspective, the bitter qualities of andrographis, or chuan xin lian, are believed to clear heat from the blood, which can look like infections or toxins. It is specifically used in cases of colds, flu, fever, cough, skin conditions, bronchitis, tonsillitis, and many more conditions.6

    In Malaysia, a decoction of the aerial parts is used for the common cold, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, malaria, and snakebites.16

    How to Use and Dosing

    Andrographis paniculata or Kariyat leaf plant with herb capsules to treating covid-19 coronavirus viral infection.

    The Ayurvedic name for andrographis translates to “king of bitters,” so it is often preferred and best taken in capsule form to avoid its bitter taste.

    A standardized extract of andrographis is ideal and should be standardized to 10% to 30% andrographolides. General dosing for a standardized extract is 200-800 mg, two to three times daily. If using a tincture, ​​1.5-3 mL, 2-4 times daily is standard.

    To enhance immune function, andrographis can be combined with reishi mushroom, lion’s mane mushroom, cat’s claw, Japanese knotweed, garlic, Chinese skullcap, turmeric, cordyceps, astragalus, and echinacea.

    For added liver support, consider pairing andrographis with herbs like milk thistle, turmeric, schisandra, and dandelion root.

    Interactions

    There are no known significant interactions, however, animal studies suggest andrographis may modify glucose regulation, so be aware if using hypoglycemic drugs.

    Always check with your health care practitioner before use if you are taking medications. For more general education on potential interactions between herbs and medications, check out Dr. Bill Rawls’ article: Is it Safe to Take Herbs with My Medications?

    Precautions & Side effects

    About 1% of people who take andrographis develop an allergic reaction with whole-body hives and itching skin. The reaction will resolve gradually over several weeks after stopping the use of the herb.

    Avoid the use of this herb during pregnancy.

    Disclaimer: This information is intended only as general education and should not be substituted for professional medical advice. Any mentioned general dosage options, safety notices, or possible interactions with prescription drugs are for educational purposes only and must be considered in the context of each individual’s health situation and the quality and potency of the product being used. Use this information only as a reference in conjunction with the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

    The Cellular Wellness Solution

    Discover more in Dr. Bill Rawls’ new #1 Bestselling book: The Cellular Wellness Solution: Tap Into Your Full Health Potential with the Science-Backed Power of Herbs.

    An eye-opening and empowering book that the world needs right now: The Cellular Wellness Solution will fundamentally change how you think about herbs and the powerful role they play in cultivating wellness at the cellular level.”

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    Fourteen-time #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

    Want to See the Science? Check Out Our References Below.

    1. Pole S. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles Of Traditional Practice. London: Churchill Livingstone; 2006:210-211.
    2. Hossain MS, Urbi Z, Sule A, Hafizur Rahman KM. Andrographis paniculata (Burm. f.) Wall. ex Nees: a review of ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and pharmacology. ScientificWorldJournal. 2014;2014:274905. doi:10.1155/2014/274905
    3. Mishra US, Mishra A, Kumari R, Murthy PN, Naik BS. Antibacterial Activity of Ethanol Extract of Andrographis paniculata. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2009;71(4):436-438. doi:10.4103/0250-474X.57294
    4. Hossain S, Urbi Z, Karuniawati H, et al. Andrographis paniculata (Burm. f.) Wall. ex Nees: An Updated Review of Phytochemistry, Antimicrobial Pharmacology, and Clinical Safety and Efficacy. Life (Basel). 2021;11(4):348. Published 2021 Apr 16. doi:10.3390/life11040348
    5. Sa-Ngiamsuntorn K, Suksatu A, Pewkliang Y, et al. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Activity of Andrographis paniculata Extract and Its Major Component Andrographolide in Human Lung Epithelial Cells and Cytotoxicity Evaluation in Major Organ Cell Representatives. J Nat Prod. 2021;84(4):1261-1270. doi:10.1021/acs.jnatprod.0c01324
    6. Bone K, Mills S. Principles And Practice Of Phytotherapy. London: Elsevier Health Sciences UK; 2013:360-372.
    7. Sule A, Ahmed QU, Latip J, et al. Antifungal activity of Andrographis paniculata extracts and active principles against skin pathogenic fungal strains in vitro. Pharm Biol. 2012;50(7):850-856. doi:10.3109/13880209.2011.641021
    8. Jaihan, Ubonwan & Srichairatanakool, Somdet & Uthaipibull, Chairat & Somsak, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Voravuth. (2013). Anti-Malarial Activity of Andrographis paniculata Extract.
    9. Hu XY, Wu RH, Logue M, et al. Andrographis paniculata (Chuān Xīn Lián) for symptomatic relief of acute respiratory tract infections in adults and children: A systematic review and meta-analysis [published correction appears in PLoS One. 2018 Nov 14;13(11):e0207713]. PLoS One. 2017;12(8):e0181780. Published 2017 Aug 4. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0181780
    10. Abdulaziz Bardi D, Halabi MF, Hassandarvish P, et al. Andrographis paniculata leaf extract prevents thioacetamide-induced liver cirrhosis in rats. PLoS One. 2014;9(10):e109424. Published 2014 Oct 3. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0109424
    11. Liu YT, Chen HW, Lii CK, et al. A Diterpenoid, 14-Deoxy-11, 12-Didehydroandrographolide, in Andrographis paniculata Reduces Steatohepatitis and Liver Injury in Mice Fed a High-Fat and High-Cholesterol Diet. Nutrients. 2020;12(2):523. Published 2020 Feb 18. doi:10.3390/nu12020523
    12. ​​Burgos RA, Alarcón P, Quiroga J, Manosalva C, Hancke J. Andrographolide, an Anti-Inflammatory Multitarget Drug: All Roads Lead to Cellular Metabolism. Molecules. 2020;26(1):5. Published 2020 Dec 22. doi:10.3390/molecules26010005
    13. Li X, Yuan K, Zhu Q, et al. Andrographolide Ameliorates Rheumatoid Arthritis by Regulating the Apoptosis-NETosis Balance of Neutrophils. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(20):5035. Published 2019 Oct 11. doi:10.3390/ijms20205035
    14. Bertoglio JC, Baumgartner M, Palma R, et al. Andrographis paniculata decreases fatigue in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a 12-month double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study. BMC Neurol. 2016;16:77. Published 2016 May 23. doi:10.1186/s12883-016-0595-2
    15. Engels G, Brinckmann J. Andrographis. Herbalgram.org. https://www.herbalgram.org/resources/herbalgram/issues/105/table-of-contents/hg105-herbpro-andro/. Published 2015.
    16. Okhuarobo A, Falodun JE, Erharuyi O, Imieje V, Falodun A, Langer P. Harnessing the medicinal properties of Andrographis paniculata for diseases and beyond: a review of its phytochemistry and pharmacology. Asian Pac J Trop Dis. 2014;4(3):213-222. doi:10.1016/S2222-1808(14)60509-0
    17. Hu XY, Wu RH, Logue M, et al. Andrographis paniculata (Chuān Xīn Lián) for symptomatic relief of acute respiratory tract infections in adults and children: A systematic review and meta-analysis [published correction appears in PLoS One. 2018 Nov 14;13(11):e0207713]. PLoS One. 2017;12(8):e0181780. Published 2017 Aug 4. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0181780
    18. Vetvicka V, Vannucci L. Biological properties of andrographolide, an active ingredient of Andrographis Paniculata: a narrative review. Ann Transl Med. 2021;9(14):1186. doi:10.21037/atm-20-7830
    19. Rajanna M, Bharathi B, Shivakumar BR, et al. Immunomodulatory effects of Andrographis paniculata extract in healthy adults – An open-label study. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2021;12(3):529-534. doi:10.1016/j.jaim.2021.06.004
    20. Mishra A, Shaik HA, Sinha RK, Shah BR. Andrographolide: A Herbal-Chemosynthetic Approach for Enhancing Immunity, Combating Viral Infections, and Its Implication on Human Health. Molecules. 2021;26(22):7036. Published 2021 Nov 21. doi:10.3390/molecules26227036

    *This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult your qualified healthcare provider before beginning any diet or program.
    About the Medical Director
    Dr. Bill Rawls
    Dr. Rawls is a licensed medical doctor in North Carolina and a leading expert in integrative health. He has extensive training in alternative therapies, and is the Medical Director of Vital Plan, a holistic health and herbal supplement company in Raleigh, NC.
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