Have you heard about Andrographis and wondered, what on Earth is that? The Indian and Sri Lankan herb is becoming popular in all corners of the world, and it's no wonder why!
It comes with claimed health benefits and has become a staple in herbal medicine in Western countries and its native lands.
But what do we know about it? When we see it in stores or discussed online, do our minds picture the plant, or do they go blank?
The herbal world can be tricky to navigate, especially if you are just dipping your toe into it. You might not know which way to turn, who to take your advice from, or what to believe.
It can leave you overwhelmed, frustrated, and in need of a lie down in a dark room. Well, no more!
We are here to help you become an Andrographis expert! We have all you need to know here in our herb library.
So keep reading to find out all there is to know about the benefits, uses, and history of Andrographis!
Remember, we are here as a guide only! If you want to seek professional medical advice, take your questions to your doctor to ensure your dosage is correct and that Andrographis is suitable for you to take.
What is Andrographis?
For those of you who have stumbled onto this page clueless and those that need a little refresh, let’s first take a look at what Andrographis is.
Andrographis (Andrographis Paniculata) is a plant native to South Asian countries like Sri Lanka and India. The plant is popular in Chinese and Asian medicines, growing annually and naturally in many household gardens.
The bitter-tasting herb is thought to have inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral properties, which lens is nicely into how it's used.
The leaf and its underground stem are often used to make medicine, commonly used to treat common colds, throat and tonsil infections, osteoarthritis, and ulcerative colitis (a type of inflammatory bowel disease). It has other uses but little scientific evidence to back it up.
Now that we have covered what Andrographis is, let's look at its history and uses to provide you with even more information about this herb!
History of Andrographis
As we have established, the herb grows naturally in the Indian subcontinent. Andrographis has traditionally been used as an antiplatelet, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, bitter tonic, choleretic, hepatoprotective agent, immunostimulant, and adaptogen.
It is also believed to provide protection from free radical damage and help normalize blood sugar. That’s a lot of uses, isn’t it?
The plant is traditionally used to treat a wide range of conditions (more on this later) and has been used for centuries. It is used to treat conditions and aid in recovery from respiratory and skin conditions.
The plant has been used across the Indian subcontinent and appears in a range of traditional Chinese herbal texts.
Its leaves and roots have been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat intermittent fevers and jaundice. It's also found in over half of the herb formulations in India to treat liver conditions. So, as you can see, it has been widely used for hundreds of years!
In the northern Himalayas, it is used as a substitute for Chirata, as Andrographis grows more freely here.
The uses of these plants are fairly similar as they treat colds, but Andrographis is more readily available, making it a better alternative.
As we traveled the globe and discovered other cultures, Andrographis has become a part of western herbal medicines, especially in countries where the Ayurvedic system of medicine is practiced and recognized.
Here in the US, the herb is now recognized as safe to use and can be included as an active ingredient in over-the-counter drug products. It can be dispensed by healthcare practitioners to patients too.
It's not yet recognized as safe for food products in the US but can be seen in some dirty supplement products.
How do I use Andrographis?
Now that we have introduced you to Andrographis and its history, let’s look at how you can use it. We will go into more detail about the benefits of Andrographis later, but it's commonly used to treat cold and flu symptoms along with osteoarthritis.
The herb is taken orally, and the dosage will depend on the condition you are using Andrographis for. Below are the recommended dosages for Andrographis, depending on the condition you are looking to treat.
- Osteoarthritis - 300 or 600mg of Andrographis extract to be taken daily for 12 weeks
- Common cold - you will want a combination product containing Andrographis extract, which you can take three times daily. There is also another extract that can be used daily for five days to treat your symptoms.
- Throat and tonsil infections - take 3-6 grams of Andrographis daily
- Ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease) - extract of 1200 to 1800mg to be taken daily for eight weeks
These should be considered as general dosage suggestions. Consult with a doctor if you are unsure, and remember to follow their exact advice.
Also, be sure to let them know about any other medication or herbal remedies you take, as this can impact the success of Andrographis or interfere with your other medication.
What are the benefits of Andrographis?
So what are the benefits of this herb? They vary, and it's vital to remember that not all of these benefits will have the scientific evidence to back them up. As with all herbal remedies, they might work for you, they might not. But it’s always worth trying a natural remedy, isn’t it?
Let’s start with those that have been backed by science! The most common and widely used Andrographis is treating the common cold and alleviating some flu symptoms.
In addition, the antioxidant ingredients in the plant are said to act as an immune-booster; after all, it’s how the plant became known as Chinese echinacea (commonly used in Western countries as an immune booster for the flu).
It’s also used and scientifically proven to help with throat and tonsil infections, osteoarthritis, and some inflammatory bowel diseases. So let’s take a little closer look at these now to see if Andrographis could be benefiting you!
There have been some small studies done where they found that Andrographis helped to reduce fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis.
Compared to those that used the placebo, patients taking Andrographis twice a day for a year saw a reduction in the severity of their fatigue and that there was no difference in relapse rate, inflammatory measures, or disability status.
For those struggling with the fatigue that comes with multiple sclerosis, Andrographis could be a viable solution. You can read more about the study undertaken here.
Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
In a recent review, scientists found that Andrographis seemed beneficial for relieving acute symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. This was compared to standard care, other herbs, or placebo used.
It was also found to shorten the duration of a sore throat, cough, and sick days compared to standard care.
We have already seen that Andrographis is used to treat coughs and colds, but it's always nice to see science backing it up too!
For those suffering from Bronchitis or other respiratory issues, taking Andrographis can provide relief and shorten the length of the symptoms, seeing you back to full health and feeling yourself in no time!
Another use we mentioned earlier was Andrographis being used to treat ulcerative colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel disease. Recent reviews and studies have found that the herbal remedy helped treat ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
The herb was found to be superior to the placebo used in inducing remission or response. So Andrographis can be helpful here and even alleviate some of the symptoms patients suffer from.
While a cure is unlikely (there currently isn’t one for Crohn’s disease), we think anything that can help is always worth a shot!
It's always best to speak to your doctor beforehand to ensure that taking the herbal remedy won’t interfere with any other medication or treatment you are currently taking. You can read more about the study done here.
Now that covers the benefits of Andrographis that has scientific evidence or studies that back them up. But what about the other uses? There are plenty of other benefits Andrographis has, but remember, these are based on herbal uses, and the results will vary.
Below are the other benefits Andrographis has:
- Heart disease
- Liver issues
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sinus infections
- Skin diseases
Are there side effects?
As with anything in life, there is always the risk of adverse side effects. So you must familiarize yourself with these before taking Andrographis; after all, you don’t want to be unwell, do you?
So what are these side effects? Well, they vary from person to person. Most users will notice no side effects, but for the few that do, you can expect a headache, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, or an allergic reaction.
As there is little research about Andrographis, it's hard to measure the safety of using this herb accurately.
Although we love herbs here, we have to recognize that these supplements aren’t tested. The industry is largely unregulated. In some cases, the dose included will differ from the specified or recommended dose.
We recommend extensive research when buying herbs or supplements. In an ideal world, we would all grow our own, so we know exactly what’s in it, but that isn’t always possible. So read the ingredients carefully, and don’t be afraid to reach out with any further questions!
Along with this, we urge anyone using medications such as blood thinners, blood pressure medication, and chemotherapy drugs to consult their doctor before using Andrographis.
There have been cases where acute kidney injuries have been caused due to Andrographis being used intravenously, so avoid this at all costs.
We know the side effects can sound a little scary, but here at natural herb guide, we always want you to have the full picture! It’s why these guides exist, to provide you with all the knowledge.
What else do I need to know about Andrographis?
It wouldn’t be a complete guide if we didn’t tell you everything there is to know about Andrographis, would it? So let’s fill in the last few gaps before you leave today.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Although there are little studies and reliable information out there, it could possibly be unsafe for pregnant people and those breastfeeding to take Andrographis orally.
In addition, there is concern that it could harm unborn babies and even cause miscarriages, so we should be cautious and not use it.
When it comes to children taking Andrographis, it is possibly safe for them to ingest it orally during the short term. However, be sure to read the dosage on any supplements purchased and follow these or consult a doctor.
Andrographis is used with other herbs for up to one month in children between 3 and 15 years of age, and we recommend that you follow a similar age and time frame.
After all, you can never be too careful!
There is a risk that Andrographis could slow blood clotting and reduce your blood pressure, which can be problematic for those recovering from surgery. In addition, it might cause extra bleeding or low blood pressure during and after surgery.
We recommend that you stop using Andrographis 2 weeks before surgery. Then, consult with your surgeon or doctor to ensure that it is safe for you to use it.
It's best to follow their advice as they will have a better understanding of your situation.
And just like that, we have reached the end of our guide today! As you can see, Andrographis has lots of fantastic uses and benefits that can help aid in recovery from a common cold and other illnesses.
While there isn’t a great deal of scientific evidence to back up all the claimed benefits, we are sure you will find a use for Andrographis in your life.
After all, if it's been so effective for centuries, it can’t be that bad, can it? Just remember to speak to a doctor if you are on any conflicting medication or want further advice; the last thing you want to do is make yourself feel worse!