Andrographis paniculata has a long history of use throughout Asia. This branched erect annual plant belongs to the Acanthaceae family of the Andrographis genus, which consists of 28 species. Only a few of them possess healing properties, Andrographis paniculata is the most powerful one. The plant is also known under the names King of bitters, Ganhelian, Kiryat, Fah Tolai, and others.
The herb can sometimes grow to the size of a shrub; its height varies from 30 to 110 cm. Its quadrangular stems are of dark green color. The leaves are opposite, lanceolate and pinnate, up to 8.0 cm long with a very short petiole. Andrographis flowers are quite small; they can be either white-purple, or white with rose-purple spots on the petals. The flowers are gathered into racemes or panicles. They later turn into capsules-shaped fruits and become home for numerous yellowish-brown seeds.
Andrographis paniculata is native to the southern Asia. It grows wildly and abundantly in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Java, Jamaica, Bahamas, etc. All types of soil seem to be good for Andrographis; it grows well even on the so-called “serpentine soil” formations, which contain aluminum, copper, and zinc. Dry places and wet locations, sunny regions and shades – Andrographis can be found everywhere. Though the plant is very fragile and can be easily broken, it is extremely undemanding as for the growing conditions.
India, China, Sri Lanka and other countries of the southern Asia have been familiar with Andrographis for centuries. Leaves, roots and, actually, the whole plant have been used in folk medicine for fighting off many diseases and preserving good health.
Initially, people used teas, tinctures, beverages and even fresh juice of Andrographis to get rid of health disorders. These days the remedy is available in capsules, tablets, extract, gel and ointment.
Inhabitants of the southern part of Asia use Andrographis for different medicinal purposes. The herb is claimed by the users to be potent in fighting many diseases, some of which show high rates of mortality.
To prove the power of Andrographis a lot of scientific studies had been conducted by the researchers all over the world for several decades. They discovered that the plant’s chemical structure includes flavones and lactones. The most prominent and potent constituent is considered to be andrographolide, water-soluble diterpene lactone, which has shown various pharmacological activities.
Andrographolide is a colorless, bitter crystalline compound, which is usually extracted from the leaves of the plant. In the human organism it accumulates mainly in the brain, spleen, heart, and lungs. It is responsible for the bitter taste of Andrographis extracts, teas, and formulations.
Other constituents of the plant extract are deoxyandrographolide and neoandrographolide – the subtypes of andrographolide. Besides, Andrographis is rich in sodium chloride and a number of minerals.
All these constituents determine the following plant’s healing properties and effects:
- anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral;
- pain-killing and temperature-lowering;
- antithrombotic and thrombolytic (preventing and dissolving blood clots), as well as hypoglycemic (reducing blood sugar);
- antioxidant and immune-stimulating, inducing the production of antibodies and macrophages, protecting healthy T-cells from viruses, and inhibiting the spread of infection;
- cytotoxic (inhibiting the growth and even killing cancer cells);
- hepatoprotective (improving liver functioning).
Andrographis is described in ancient and modern Chinese and Indian medicinal literature as a mighty herbal remedy against a great number of diseases. These days, as well as hundreds of years ago, people successfully use it in folk medicine to treat digestive, cardiovascular, and urinary systems disorders. It is also effective against upper respiratory infections, fever, and sore throat. Herbalists use Andrographis to eliminate the symptoms of herpes, malaria, dysentery and even snakebites.
The inhabitants of the Scandinavian countries treat common cold and flu with the help of this herb. In general, the plant is known to be a powerful immune booster.
Resent research proves Andrographis abilities to be helpful in fighting against cancer, HIV/AIDS infections, blood clots, heart attacks, herpes, diabetes, liver and gallbladder disorders, cold, fever and flu. It may also be an option in preventing allergies. It is even claimed that the plant can induce infertility.
Perhaps, some statements still need further research; however, a lot of diseases can definitely be treated with the help of Andrographis.
Send us your experience or opinion that we may publish on this site.