Andrographis is a plant with a long history of traditional use for enhancing immune health, fighting infections, and gastrointestinal health.
Traditionally, andrographis has been used to treat the common cold, flu, fever, infections, and other ailments.
Modern research indicates that andrographis benefits the body by boosting the immune system, reducing arthritic symptoms, and more.
In this article, we’ll go over the health benefits of andrographis as well its safety, dosage, and history.
Table of Contents
- What is Andrographis?
- Health Benefits of Andrographis:
- Is Andrographis Safe?
- What is the Best Andrographis Dosage?
- How to Incorporate Andrographis Into Your Diet:
- Naming and Taxonomy:
- History & Traditional Use:
What is Andrographis?
Andrographis, known scientifically as Andrographis paniculata, is an annual plant. It’s native to India and Sri Lanka, and it is also found in many areas throughout Asia, such as China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
It’s also known as king of the bitters, kalmegh, creat, and green chiretta, among other names depending on the region it’s found in.
It is a branched, erect plant that produces small pink or white flowers that have brown or purple spots. Generally, it prefers shady, moist areas.
Andrographis is rich in a number of bioactive components, with andrographolide being the most well-known and researched one by far.
Andrographolide is a diterpenoid compound isolated from the stem and leaves of andrographis. Lab research has shown that this compound has various anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antipathogenic, and immunostimulating medicinal properties, among other actions.
Beyond andrographolide, andrographis is rich in:
- Quinic Acid
- Calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, manganese, and other minerals
Health Benefits of Andrographis:
There have been numerous studies on andrographis and its main constituent, andrographolide, with many showing promising health benefits.
In particular, Andrographis paniculata benefits the body in the following ways:
1. May Support the Immune System
One of the main reported benefits of andrographis is improved both immune health and the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections and the common cold. This has been shown in numerous studies, many of which are clinical trials.
In one open-label study involving 30 participants, Andrographis paniculata extract led to increases in T-cells and other immune cells, while also improving various inflammatory markers. This suggests that andrographis benefits the immune system.
Next, in a placebo-controlled clinical trial, patients with upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) showed a 52% greater improvement in symptoms of the common cold when taking KalmCold (a trademarked Andrographis paniculata extract) compared to placebo.
Additionally, a double-blind study found that taking andrographis extract lead to significantly fewer sore throats, and other common cold symptoms in the andrographis group as compared to placebo. The researchers also noted a high degree of effectiveness in reducing common cold symptoms.
A small study involving 20 healthy people found that andrographis extract was able to increase white blood cell and neutrophil counts, which are important for immune health.
Lastly, a placebo-controlled study in 185 people looked into the effects of Kan Jang® (a trademarked extract of andrographis and other herbs) on URTIs including sinusitis. They found that Kan Jang® significantly reduced headache, cough, nasal symptoms, and temperature compared to the control group.
Summary:Several clinical human studies show evidence of Andrographis paniculata being able to improve immune health.
2. May Reduce Arthritis
It is also likely that andrographis benefits arthritis. A few clinical trials and other studies have shown these possibilities.
In a placebo-controlled study in 60 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, supplementation with ParActin (an Andrographis paniculata extract) led to significant decreases in swollen and tender joints compared to placebo. There was also a trend towards decreased joint pain.
The same study design above was used in another study in patients with knee osteoarthritis. The researchers noted that ParActin users had significantly lower pain, stiffness, and fatigue, alongside higher physical function and quality of life compared to placebo.
An in vitro study found that andrographolide may significantly reduce arthritis and joint dysfunction, primarily by reducing various inflammatory markers. Andrographolide also seemed to inhibit certain autoimmune pathways that are relevant to rheumatoid arthritis progression.
Next, an in vitro and in vivo combination study found that andrographolide reduced inflammatory mediators, such as IL-6 and TNF-a. It also suppresses key signaling pathways related to inflammatory cytokines. Essentially, andrographolide helps to reduce a variety of inflammatory factors that have relevance to arthritis.
Finally, a study showed that andrographolide suppressed various inflammatory mediators and markers, including nitric oxide. Also, it reduced overall cell toxicity.
Summary:Clinical trials indicate that andrographis may benefit arthritis by reducing joint pain and inflammation, however, additional human research should be conducted to confirm these findings.
3. Anti-Cancer Properties
Another intriguing potential benefit of Andrographis paniculata is its anti-cancer effects.
In a pre-clinical study on mice, a combination of Andrographis paniculata alongside chemotherapy showed a greater ability to reduce tumors and cancer metastasis in esophageal cancer. The combination also showed greater immune health benefits compared to chemotherapy alone.
In another study with in vitro and in vivo components, treatment with berberine and andrographis was associated with anti-cancer activity in colorectal cancer, mainly by suppressing DNA replication and decreasing aspects of cancer cell viability/strength.
Next, a study done on breast cancer cells showed that an ethanol extract of Andrographis paniculata effectively inhibited breast cancer cell proliferation.
Also, a study using a lung tumor mouse model showed that andrographolide can inhibit lung tumors by increasing cell cycle arrest.
Finally, a study looked specifically into the mechanisms of andrographolide on cancer prevention and immune health. They noted that andrographolide has various anti-cancer and immunomodulatory effects, such as enhancing cytotoxic action against cancer cells and directly inhibiting cancer cell growth.
Summary:Preliminary research shows that andrographis may have the ability to inhibit tumors and cancer cell proliferation. Human clinical trials are required to confirm these findings.
4. May Help To Balance Blood Sugar
There’s a fair amount of evidence that Andrographis paniculata benefits diabetes and metabolic health.
In an open-label clinical trial involving 20 patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D), patients given a powdered form of andrographis showed significant reductions in HbA1C (a measure of average blood sugar levels over time) and insulin.
In another clinical trial in 54 patients with T2D, those who were given a combination of andrographis and Indian bay leaf (Syzygium polyanthum) had significantly lower blood sugar levels and lower body mass index (BMI) compared to the placebo group.
Also, in a study done on hyperglycemic-induced rats, treatment with andrographis and gotu kola (Centella asiatica) extracts led to significantly lower blood glucose and cholesterol alongside increased HDL.
Additionally, diabetes sometimes leads to cognitive decline. A study in diabetic rats found that Andrographis paniculata supplementation led to significant improvements in blood sugar and insulin levels, while also reducing cognitive deficits and oxidative stress compared to placebo.
Summary:Several trials indicate that andrographis may be helpful in lowering blood sugar and insulin levels. Large scale clinical trials are needed to confirm these findings.
5. Antimicrobial Properties
You’ve previously read how andrographis may benefit immune health. It also seems that andrographis benefits against invading pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
In one in vitro study, andrographis was shown to have strong antibacterial activity against the Gram-positive bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.
Another in vitro study found that andrographis showed antioxidant, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Specifically, andrographis seemed to protect against Streptococcus pyogenes (a type of bacteria) and Candida albicans (a type of fungus).
Thirdly, a study found that andrographolide and other phytochemicals from andrographis may be beneficial for Covid-19 virus treatment, mainly by targeting virus replication, transcription, and host cell recognition. However, more research is needed.
An additional study found that andrographolide and other diterpenes isolated from Andrographis paniculata showed antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus type 1.
Also, an in vitro study discovered that various leaf extracts of andrographis showed significant antimicrobial activities, including against a variety of common bacteria and fungi species.
Summary:Several studies show evidence of andrographis being able to protect against bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
6. Other Benefits
Beyond the primary benefits of andrographis, it also seems that this herb may have benefits for cognition and gut health.
- May Benefit Gut Health – In a study on mice with Gulf War Illness, andrographis treatment led to significant increases in probiotic bacteria responsible for gut and immune health. Plus, it increased gut barrier integrity and increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor, suggesting benefits for the gut-brain axis.
- May Increase Probiotic Bacteria – Additionally, Andrographis paniculata has been shown to increase probiotic bacteria and the ratio of good to bad bacteria in mouse models.
- May Improve Cognitive Function – As for specific cognitive improvements, a study on elderly people with mild cognitive impairment found that a combination of andrographis and ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) led to significant increases in concentration and attention compared to placebo; and it may also offer stress-buffering effects.
- May Benefit Brain Health – Some of the cognitive benefits may be due to the ability of andrographis and its compounds to decrease brain inflammation and oxidative stress, while also improving memory functions, as other studies have shown.
Summary:Andrographis shows evidence of having additional benefits for gut health, cognitive function, and brain health, however, human clinical studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Is Andrographis Safe?
Andrographis is generally deemed safe to use. Some potential side effects that users experience are typically limited to skin rashes and gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea.
However, a very low percentage of people also may experience allergic reactions or more serious reactions.
What is the Best Andrographis Dosage?
Standard dosing for andrographis is as follows:
Dried Herb: 1.5 to 6g of dried aerial parts of the herb
Tincture: 3-6mL of a 1:2 liquid extract
Infusion: Infuse 1 to 2 tsp of dried herb with 2 cups of boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes, strain, and drink.
Supplements: Andrographis paniculata often comes in capsule or tablet form, typically containing 11.2mg of andrographolide per 200mg of extract. A common dosage is 400mg of extract up to three times daily.
How to Incorporate Andrographis Into Your Diet:
Andrographis can be incorporated into the diet in a few different ways, most often as a supplement either in tincture, powder, or capsule form.
If taken in tincture or powder form, andrographis can be mixed into juice or water.
Andrographis can also come in tea bags and be used with boiling water to make andrographis tea.
Lastly, andrographis is typically not eaten raw as it has a very bitter taste.
Naming and Taxonomy:
Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) belongs to the acancatheae family. It is identified by its small, pink or white flowers with brown or purple spots.
The flowers also have oblong seed capsules containing 6 to 12 yellow-brown seeds.
History & Traditional Use:
Andrographis has been used historically in many traditional medicines, including Indian Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Japan.
Within these medicines, andrographis was thought to have immunostimulant, bitter tonic, anti-inflammatory, liver-protecting, bile-stimulating, and fever-reducing effects.
It has been used in traditional cultures to fight fevers, and respiratory and skin conditions, and was often used for the common cold, flu, fever, headache, infections, pneumonia, and other similar ailments.
Andrographis paniculata was also to treat indigestion, bowel problems, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal diseases. Moreover, it was used to treat liver toxicity and improve general liver function.
Andrographis paniculata is rich in a number of bioactive compounds, especially andrographolide, but also many other vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
In addition to its long history of traditional medicinal use, modern research has shown many potential benefits of andrographis, including immune support, arthritis management, anti-cancer effects, diabetes regulation, anti-pathogenic activity, and even support for gut and cognitive health.
Furthermore, andrographis is generally safe to consume and can be easily added to the diet through supplementation or other ways. As such, one may want to consider using andrographis on a regular basis to potentially increase their health and wellness.