Common Cold and Sore ThroatAndrographis contains bitter constituents that are believed to have immune-stimulating and anti-inflammatory actions.Andrographis contains andrographolides that have demonstrated immune-enhancing qualities in preliminary studies.11,12 At least one double-blind trial has shown that common cold symptoms improve13,14 and recovery is faster15 when a standardized extract providing 60 mg per day of active constituents is taken in three divided doses, beginning as soon as possible after symptoms appear. In addition, preliminary research in Russia suggests andrographis extract may be effective for the treatment of influenza.16 This extract was also tested for preventing colds in a double-blind study of teenagers.17 After three months, the group taking 5 mg of andrographolides twice daily had only half the number of colds experienced by the placebo group.
Immune FunctionAndrographis, with its immune system–enhancing actions, has been shown to reduce the severity of the common cold and may prevent the onset of a cold in healthy people.Andrographis extract, either alone or combined with eleuthero extract, has been shown in a double-blind trial to successfully reduce the severity of the common cold.18,19 A double-blind study also suggests andrographis extract may prevent the onset of a cold in healthy people. These actions are thought to be due to the immune system enhancing actions of the active constituents known as andrographolides and eleutherosides,20,21 respectively.
InfectionAndrographis supports the immune system and protects against microbes.
Herbs that support a person’s immune system in the fight against microbes include the following: American ginseng, andrographis, Asian ginseng, astragalus, coriolus, eleuthero, ligustrum, maitake, picrorhiza, reishi, schisandra, and shiitake.
Double-blind trials have shown that common cold symptoms improve22,23 and recovery is faster24 when andrographis extract containing 48 to 60 mg andrographolides is taken in three or four divided doses daily, beginning as soon as possible after symptoms appear. In addition, preliminary research in Russia suggests andrographis extract may be effective for the treatment of influenza.25 This extract was also tested for preventing colds in a double-blind study of teenagers.26 After three months, the group taking 5 mg of andrographolides twice daily had only half the number of colds experienced by the placebo group.
Other preliminary27 and double-blind28,29 research has shown similar benefits for treating the common cold from a combination of andrographis extract and an eleuthero extract containing 2.0 to 2.4 mg per day eleutherosides.
HIV and AIDS SupportA trial of isolated andrographolides, found in andrographis, showed that they decreased viral load and increased CD4 lymphocyte levels in people with HIV infection.
A preliminary trial of isolated andrographolides, found in andrographis, determined that while they decreased viral load and increased CD4 lymphocyte levels in people with HIV infection, they also caused potentially serious liver problems and changes in taste in many of the participants.30 It is unknown whether andrographis directly killed HIV or was having an immune-strengthening effect in this trial.
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach AcidityAndrographis acts as a digestive stimulant and may be helpful for indigestion.
Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.31 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.32. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
Andrographis has long been used in traditional Indian and Chinese herbal medicine. The most common reported uses were for digestive problems (as is the case with most non-toxic bitter herbs such as andrographis), snakebite, and infections ranging from malaria to dysentery.33,34 Interestingly, some of these uses have been validated by modern scientific research. Although the roots were sometimes used in traditional medicine, the leaves and flowers are now more commonly used.