Botanical name: Andrographis paniculata
Other names: King of Bitters
Known as the ‘King of Bitters’, this herb has a long history of use in India and China. It used to combat infections (bacterial, viral and parasitic), support immune function and lower fever. It is commonly used for colds, flus, respiratory and gastrointestinal infections and to expel parasites. It is also bitter digestive tonic that also supports gallbladder function and protects the liver.
Andrographis contains andrographolide, a diterpene lactone compound, which is believed to be the principal active agent.
Another common name for Andrographis is ‘Indian Echinacea’, and this reflects one of it’s most common uses – supporting the immune system to fight of colds & flus. The andrographolides are also attributed to this herb’s powerful immonomodulatory actions. It has been found to enhance immune cells’ ability to remove cellular debris and repair tissue.
The liver protective action of Andrographis is also attributed to its star compound, andrographolide. It is particularly effective against alcohol induced liver toxicity and supports high levels of glutathione in the liver, one of the liver’s main mechanisms for self-protection. The bitter compounds stimulate bile flow which promotes healthy liver & gallbladder function. In fact, it has been found to be as effective as milk thistle in protecting the liver. Andrographolides have demonstrated protection of the liver in many studies, as well as effectiveness against infective hepatitis.
This herb is to be avoided if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Preparation: 1-2 tsp per cup. Steep covered for 10 minutes
References: Deni Brown (2002), New Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses, p.120
Andrographis Common Uses
Andrographis might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using andrographis. Andrographis may slow blood clotting and reduce blood pressure, therefore use with caution in people with bleeding disorders, and avoid at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Avoid in pregnancy, as there is insufficient safety information.