Andrographis paniculata – Folium (Acanthaceae)
Common name: King of bitters (E), Andrographis (E)
Sanskrit: Kalamegha, Kirata, Mahatikta, Bhunimba
Andrographis is a very bitter tasting herb with a renowned immune stimulating effect. It is used to treat infections, fevers and septic conditions of the blood. Kalamegha literally means ‘black cloud’ perhaps attesting to it being traditionally harvested just before winter. Andrographis is also known as Bhunimba meaning ‘Neem of the earth’ referring to its bitter neem-like taste and effects.
Andrographis is a small green, shade loving annual shrub that can be found growing throughout India. It can grow up to 1m in height with glabrous leaves that grow up to 8cm in length. The flowers of this plant are particularly beautiful but incredibly small; they are white or pale pink with brown or purple blotches in loose spreading axillary and terminal pannicles. Its seed pods are yellow-brown and oblong in shape.
How it Works
Andrographis is a stimulant to the immune system with the ability to boost a weakened immune system whilst also fighting infection. Andrographis is a potent anti-bacteria and anti-microbial for the digestion, liver and respiratory system, influencing a healthy inflammation response throughout.
Into the Heart of Andrographis
- Andrographis is an immunostimulant and an immunomodulator. It stimulates the immune system through increasing the production of anti-bodies in addition to enhancing the specific and non-specific immune response. Andrographis, therefore has the ability to reduce the severity and duration of an infection. Its strong anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic activities have given this herb a proven track record in treating influenza, upper respiratory tract infections, sore throats and parasitic infections of the gastro-intestinal tract.
- Andrographis has a strong protective effect upon the cells of the liver (hepatocytes). It increases the flow of bile through the liver, and its cooling and bitter qualities help to clear liver infection and inflammation.
- Andrographis has the ability to modulate a family of inducible transcription factors known as Nf-Kbeta which are involved in the regulation and expression of pro-inflammatory genes, including Tumour Necrosis Factor. Through the modulation of such inflammatory cascades, Andrographis is considered to be a valuable anti-inflammatory.
Immunity: Andrographis is indicated where there is lowered immunity and acute and chronic infections. Andrographis is an immune stimulant rather than solely being anti-bacterial and has a proven use in treating influenza, upper respiratory tract infections, sore throats, parasite infestations in the gastro intestinal tract and also for urinary infections. It can be effectively used in the treatment of the common cold, high fevers, malaria, coughs, sinusitis, mouth ulcers, herpes zoster, HIV, otitis media, vaginitis and cystitis. It also treats sannipata jwara, a type of fever involving all three dosha.
Liver: In the liver, Andrographis increases bile flow and offers protection to hepatocytes (liver cells). Andrographis is specific for pitta in the blood and an aggravated ranjaka pitta, and, in combination with its bitter and cooling qualities, is well suited to clearing liver infections and inflammation. As andrographis has very effective hepatoprotective as well as anti-viral activity, it should be considered in hepatitis and all forms of sluggish liver where there is a reduced ability to digest fats or alcohol.
GIT: Andrographis is historically used in bacillary dysentery and enteritis. The bitterness is useful for ulcers as well as removing parasites and intestinal infections with protazoal, fungal or bacterial infestations. It is eespecially useful where pachaka pitta is aggravated causing colitis, sensations of burning in the abdomen and diarrhoea from high pitta. When andrographis is combined with warming aromatic herbs such as Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) and Cinnamon (Cinnamonum zeylanicum) it can help prevent aggravation of vata, stimulate the appetite and reduce mucus.
Lungs: Andrographis isuseful in respiratory infections with high pitta, green mucus, thirst and fevers. Its bitter, light, dry and penetrating properties help to cut through thick phlegm from high kapha.
Skin: Hot, inflammatory skin conditions such as sores and eczema can be effectively treated with Andrographis. It can also be used externally as a wash or in a cream where there are signs of infection.
Urinary & Kidney: Andrographis is useful when pitta aggravates the urinary channel (mutravahasrotas) causing urinary/kidney infections with dysuria, pyuria, haematuria and proteinuria.