What is Andrographis?
Andrographis (Andrographis Paniculata) is a small evergreen plant native to Sri Lanka, India, and several Southeast Asian countries. It is commonly known as green chiretta and 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 stomach aches 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.
What is Andrographis Used For?
While research is still limited, experts believe Andrographis works by stimulating the immune system. Medicinal herbs like Andrographis Paniculata, Siberian ginseng, and ginger are thought to boost infection resistance and treat respiratory ailments. 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. If you’re interested in boosting your immune system, try adding a daily supplement with andrographis to your routine.
Health Benefits of Andrographis
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.
Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
Studies have found that Andrographis Paniculata extract may reduce uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infection symptoms, including the common cold.
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.
Studies suggest that Andrographis may lower blood pressure.
In a review of studies looking at the health benefits of Andrographis Paniculata, investigators reported that the king of bitters could significantly reduce arterial blood pressure. According to the review, Andrographis extract may decrease myocardial inflammation in obese individuals, and may even reduce LDC “bad” cholesterol and increase HDL “good” cholesterol.
That being said, people who suffer from low blood pressure (hypotension) should refrain from using Andrographis. Taking Andrographis extract with hypertension medications (for high blood pressure) could cause your blood pressure levels to fall too low.
Ulcerative colitis is a type of bowel disease that causes inflammation and ulcers among the lining of the colon. Preliminary research shows that the anti-inflammatory effects of Andrographis may improve the function of the intestinal barrier that protects the colon, significantly reducing disease severity.
The king of bitters has shown promise in treating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. A 2009 study in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology reported that those who took tablets made of an extract of Andrographis Paniculata showed improvement in joint inflammation.
Does Andrographis really work?
Andrographis has been shown to support a number of functions. Preliminary evidence suggests that the king of bitters could help with the common cold, lower blood pressure, and improve certain types of arthritis symptoms.
Should I take Andrographis with or without food?
You can take Andrographis with or without food. Some people prefer to take Andrographis tincture or tablets with food to avoid intestinal upsets.
Is Andrographis good for the liver?
Although research is still limited, the anti-inflammatory activity of Andrographis has shown great promise supporting the functions of the liver and gallbladder.
Can Andrographis be taken daily?
Yes. You can take Andrographis extract daily with or without food. Although there is no established dose, clinical trials have examined the effects of Andrographis on immune health, blood pressure, and osteoarthritis for up to 12 weeks.
Is Andrographis safe?
Andrographis is likely safe for healthy adults when taken by mouth for up to 12 months. Pregnant women, people with low blood pressure, individuals with autoimmune conditions, and those taking blood pressure medications should avoid taking Andrographis.
Ready to boost your immune system with andrographis?
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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