I wanted to share with you an interesting piece of news about Andrographis. This wonderful Ayurvedic herb is used regularly in the dispensary here at Artemis House, for instance we include it in our Immune Boost tincture that provides many of you with immune support through these challenging times.
It was reported by Bloomberg recently that Thailand’s health ministry have approved the use of Andrographis to treat the early stages of Covid-19.
The article says that ‘Andrographis Paniculata, commonly known as green chiretta, will serve as an alternative treatment to reduce the severity of the outbreak and cut treatment costs, the ministry said in a statement Wednesday. The treatment will be available in five state-owned hospital initially’.
The article goes on to say:
- The herbal treatment will be on a voluntary basis for those in the 18-60 age group with minor symptoms and should be within 72 hours of confirming infections
- The extract from the plant, known as Fah Talai Jone in Thai, can curb virus and reduce severity of inflammation, ministry says citing studies
- Human trials showed patient conditions improved within three days of the treatment without side effects if the medicine is administered within 72 hours of testing positive
I wrote about Andrographis in my book The Complete Herbal Tutor…here’s a little overview.
Andrographis is an annual plant from the Acanthaceae family. It is native to India and cultivated in China for its use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is a beautiful herb that grows about a metre tall with purple and white flowers. The whole plant has a very bitter taste which is, according to Ayurveda, the taste most prized for its detoxifying effects; in fact, Andrographis is known in India as maha-tikta or ‘King of Bitters’ and chiritayeh in Unani Tibb which has a similar meaning. Its name bhunimba means ‘neem of the earth’ as it is as bitter as neem. Both the fresh and dried leaves, and the fresh juice of the whole plant are used as medicine.
Andrographis paniculata is highly valued in Ayurvedic, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Siddha and Unani medicine for enhancing immunity and combating fevers and acute infections and is beginning to gain popularity here in the West for its ability to support the immune system and as an anti-cold and flu remedy. It is used in Ayurveda for pneumonia and has commonly been used in India for flu and flu epidemics. Historically it was used in bacillary dysentery and enteritis.
In the Immune System
With its detoxifying and immune-enhancing effects, Andrographis is excellent for the prevention and treatment of acute infections. It has proven use in treating influenza, upper respiratory tract infections, sore throat, parasite infestation in the gastro-intestinal tract and also for urinary infections. Numerous Chinese studies have shown Andrographis is useful for acute bronchial dysentery and enteritis.
With its ability to enhance immunity, Andrographis makes a good remedy for people with lowered immunity, for those with post-viral fatigue and chronic infections; it is helpful for allergies and may be useful in combating HIV. Research has indicated that it stimulates the production of white blood cells called lymphocytes and interleukin 2 and its constituents known as andrographolides and diterpenoids may be of benefit in cancer treatment, specifically in leukaemia, melanoma and colon cancer. It may also prove useful in leptospirosis and the xanthones isolated from the roots may be helpful in malaria.
Andrographis may also have a role to play in auto-immune problems. The flavonoids in the leaves and flowers have anti-inflammatory properties which can be useful in the treatment of autoimmune disease including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. It also has hypoglycaemic properties which may be helpful in type 2 diabetes.
In the Respiratory System
The mode of action of Andrographis in respiratory infections may be its ability to stop the infecting organisms (such as Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenza) from attaching to the mucous membranes and proliferating. It has been demonstrated to protect against colds, flu and other viruses when used as a preventative over 2-3 months. It is used to good effect for acute infections, throat and ear infections, coughs, colds, flu, acute bronchitis, chest infections with fever and green phlegm.
It is well worth taking as a preventative and at the first signs of infection, for colds, flu, fevers, coughs, and chest infections. It is also effective for treating sinusitis, mouth ulcers, herpes, otitis media, sore throats, laryngitis and tonsillitis. It is also helpful in asthma.
In the Digestive System
Andrographis is an excellent herb for the digestive system. It enhances digestion, stimulates the flow of bile from liver and protects the liver from damage from toxins, drugs and alcohol. Bitter and cooling, it reduces heat and inflammation in the liver and helps overcome infection including hepatitis. It is a useful herb for those who have problems digesting fats or metabolising alcohol.
By reducing excess heat and inflammation in the digestive system, Andrographis can be used for treating acidity, indigestion, wind, gastritis, peptic ulcers, colitis including ulcerative colitis, heartburn, and diarrhoea. It is best to combine it with aromatic spices like coriander, fennel, cardamom or black cumin to ameliorate the very bitter taste.
With its antiviral, antiprotazoal, antifungal, antiparasitic and anthelmintic properties, Andrographis can be used for preventing and treating acute infections in the gut, bacillary dysentery, enteritis, worms, parasites and Candida. It is antibacterial against a wide range of infecting organisms including Staph. aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus vulgaris, Shigella dysenteriae and E. coli. It helps to combat unfriendly microorganisms in the gut and re-establish the normal gut flora.
In the Urinary System
The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial actions of Andrographis can be very helpful for treating inflammation and infection in the urinary tract with painful urination, blood or protein in the urine.
With its effective detoxifying properties, Andrographis can be used to good effect for inflammatory skin conditions, including acne, boils, abscesses, sores and eczema. It can also be used externally as a wash or in creams for irritated, itchy, inflamed and infected skin problems including fungal
Andrographis is generally well tolerated and there have been no reports of adverse effects. There has been some discussion about its possible anti-fertility effect if used long term and it is best avoided if trying to conceive, during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Also avoid in low blood pressure, bleeding disorders, with immunosuppressive drugs, anticoagulants, medication for high blood pressure, immunosuppressive drugs and insulin/hypoglycaemics.
The general dosage is 1-6g of the dried herb or 5-15mls tincture daily. Since it is particularly bitter, it may be preferable to take in capsule form.