Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) is a small evergreen plant native to Sri Lanka, India, and several Southeast Asian countries. It is commonly known as create or green chiretta as sometimes referred to as “Indian echinacea” or the “king of bitters.” Andrographis has been used in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat a variety of health ailments ranging from mild stomachaches to low-grade fever and inflammation. It has a strong bitter taste and oval-shaped leaves that produce small white and purple flowers known for attracting butterflies and other wildlife.
Andrographolide is the main biochemical compound found in Andrographis. It is an extremely bitter substance and responsible for giving the entire plant – from roots to leaves –a prominent bitter taste. Studies show that andrographolide compounds may have antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Health Benefits & Uses
Andrographis extract has been used for many chronic diseases and acute ailments, including cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, skin diseases, upset stomach, and influenza.
Researchers have identified many of the properties of Andrographis extract that help support the immune system and relieve symptoms. Some of the most essential conclusions of research on the effects of Andrographis extract include:
- Combats the symptoms of respiratory infections, the common cold, earaches, throat infections, and other viral illnesses.
- May protect you from contracting the common cold.
- May reduce the intensity of the common cold.
- Supports the adaptive immune response .
How does it work? Many of the immune-supporting properties of Andrographis extract are due to the high concentration of andrographolide lactones found in the plant. These lactones stimulate the immune system and have potent antiviral, anti-allergic, anti-diarrheal, hypoglycemic, and anti-inflammatory effects.
Recently, Andrographis has become a subject of interest in western scientific research. Evidence suggests that andrographolide may help support normal blood pressure and circulation. It has also been shown to act as a potent antioxidant capable of neutralizing free radicals, and recent studies show that this natural compound may also protect against certain viral and bacterial infections by modulating the levels of immune cells in the body.
In a 2017 study published in Nature Research’s Scientific Report, researchers found that Andrographis extract effectively reduced viral concentration among people with chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has caused large epidemics in many African, Southeast Asian, and South American countries. The authors of the study also noted that Andrographis’ principal biochemical compound, andrographolide, has been observed to act in several other viruses, including the influenza virus (flu); hepatitis A, B, and C; herpes simplex, and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Because of its antiviral properties, andrographolide also shows promise as a potential COVID-19 complementary treatment or preventive measure. A recent preliminary study that tested in silico (i.e., via computer simulation) andrographolide against SARS-COV-2 –the virus that causes COVID-19 – found that the compounds were able to bind to the virus successfully, and prediction models showed that andrographolide is safe and well-tolerated.
Of course, this was a computer-simulated study that was not tested on people, so it is impossible to know whether Andrographis extract can indeed treat or prevent the novel coronavirus until more research is conducted. However, this promising model certainly adds to the herb’s intriguing list of potential health benefits, especially in a time when affordable, accessible, and safe COVID-19 therapies are so desperately needed.
Curt Hendrix, MS, CCN, CNS
Akeso Health Sciences Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Curt Hendrix, MS, CCN, CNS, has an unwavering commitment to help people with chronic health issues. Curt holds advanced degrees in chemistry and clinical nutrition and has dedicated his life to the research and development of innovative natural medicines.
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