Andrographis - What is it and how is it used?

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Andrographis - What is it and how is it used?

What is Andrographis and how is it used?

Andrographis is traditionally an ayurvedic herb with an array of potent herbal actions to help support immune function. 

  • What is it?
  • Why is it so valuable?
  • What is it used for?
  • Are there any cautions?
  • Some further reading


Andrographis paniculata


What is it?

Andrographis paniculata is a herb native to South Asia which has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic and traditional chinese medicine for years. Andrographis was used during the Indian flu epidemic of 1919 to help treat patients as well as prevent the spread of the disease. It is sometimes referred to as the Ayurvedic echinacea. It has traditionally been used to treat venomous snake and poisonous frog bites, as well as fevers associated with dengue and malaria. 

Andrographis is also known as ‘king of bitters’ due to its incredibly bitter taste. Andrographis is most widely used as an immune stimulating herb to treat colds, flus and upper respiratory tract infections. 

Why is it so valuable?

Andrographis has an array of active constituents including flavonoids, polyphenols and diterpenoids. The most notable bioactive compound found in Andrographis is andrographolide. Andrographolide has been shown to have immunostimulating, anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective and anti-hepatotoxic actions on the body. Andrographolide has been shown to increase macrophage action, helping to increase white blood cells and mount an immune response in response to an external pathogen. It has also been shown to increase the action of natural killer cells, and thereby reducing any bacterial, microbial or viral infection. 

Andrographolide has also been shown to have cardioprotective actions, and can help to prevent diseases associated with the heart and circulatory system. Andrographis has shown to reduce oxidative stress, and support overall heart health. The use of andrographis when used regularly as a prophylactic has shown positive results in preventing myocardial injury. 

Andrographis has potent anti-inflammatory actions which can be used to help relieve symptoms of chronic inflammation or to mitigate the inflammatory response in other illnesses. 

What is it used for?

Upper Respiratory Tract Infections: Clinical trials have confirmed andrographis to be effective in treating acute upper respiratory tract infections. Patients demonstrated a significant reduction in symptoms including headache, sore throat, runny nose and eyes and cough. It has also been shown to reduce the length as well as severity of infection. 

Viral infections: Andrographis has been shown to have potent anti-viral properties and is effective in treating viral infections. Research is currently underway to examine the role it could play in reducing symptoms of covid-19. This is due to it being a powerful anti-viral and immune system modulator. 

Colds & Flu: Andrographis has traditionally been used to treat colds and flu in the ayurvedic tradition, and continues to prove effective in the current day in reducing the length and severity of symptoms due to its anti viral and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Digestion: Andrographis supports a healthy gut mircrobiome by combatting unfriendly micro-organisms. It has antiviral, antifungal and antiparastic actions so is effective in treating a variety of gut related infections. It's strong bitterness helps to stimulate bile from the liver thus enhancing good digestive function.

Immunity: Andrographis is a powerful immunostimulant and enhances the body's immune response. It is effective in prevention and treatment of a variety of infections including sinusitis, tonsillitis and Herpes.

Liver Support: It supports healthy liver function by preventing the liver from damage from toxins, infections and alcohol. It is also a bitter tonic, which helps to support healthy liver and gut function.

Skin: Andrographis is a cooling herb, and can be used to treat hot inflamed conditions of the skin including acne, eczema, spots and abscesses.

Are there any cautions?

  • Not to be taken during pregnancy
  • Can cause allergic reactions in some patients with allergies to Acanthaceae family
  • Large doses of the liquid extract (1:1) can cause gastric upset
  • Not to be taken in cases of hyperacidity and duodenal ulcers

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