The Uses and Benefits of Andrographis

What Should I Know About It?

Andrographis paniculata

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Also known as "Indian echinacea," andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) is an herb long used in traditional Chinese medicine and ayurveda. A bitter-tasting herb, andrographis is rich in compounds known as andrographolides, which are thought to have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant properties. Available in capsule and tincture form, andrographis can be found at most health food stores.

Uses for Andrographis

Andrographis is often used for the following conditions:

  • Colds
  • Ulcerative colitis

Andrographis is also said to act as a natural immune-booster.

The Benefits of Andrographis

So far, scientific support for the potential benefits of andrographis is limited. Preliminary studies suggest that andrographis may offer some health benefits:

Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

In a research review published in 2017, scientists sized up 33 previously published clinical trials and found that andrographis appears to be beneficial for relieving symptoms of acute upper respiratory tract infections when compared to other herbs, standard care, or a placebo. Andrographis was also found to shorten the duration of cough, sore throat, and sick days compared to standard care.

The researchers, however, noted that the overall quality of studies was poor and that well-designed clinical trials are needed.

Ulcerative Colitis

For a review published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, researchers analyzed 21 previously published studies on the use of herbal remedies in the treatment of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. For ulcerative colitis, andrographis extract was considered superior to a placebo in inducing remission or a response.

Multiple Sclerosis

Andrographis may help to reduce fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis, according to a small study published in BMC Neurology. When compared to participants who took a placebo, those taking andrographis twice daily for 12 months had a significant reduction in fatigue severity. There was no difference in relapse rate, inflammatory measures, or disability status.

Side Effects

Andrographis may trigger adverse effects like headache, fatigue, allergic reactions, nausea, and diarrhea.

Anyone using medications (including blood-thinning drugs, blood pressure medicines, and chemotherapy drugs) should consult a physician before using andrographis.

Andrographis should not be administered intravenously. Acute kidney injury has occurred after intravenous use of andrographis compounds.

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of using andrographis. It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals.

Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

The Bottom Line

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend Andrographis as a treatment for any condition. If you're still considering using the herb, make sure to consult your healthcare provider first rather than self-treating and avoiding or delaying standard care.

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