What is Andrographis Paniculata?
Andrographis Paniculata (chuan xin lian, 穿心莲), also known as Common Andrographis Herb, Green Chiretta or Indian echinacea, is a plant that is native to South Asian countries like India and Sri Lanka. This plant has purple and white flowers, and a bitter taste. The leaves, underground stem and juice of the plant are used in herbal medicine for a range of health issues. Prized for its detoxifying effects, this herb has earned itself nicknames such as ‘Bile of the Earth’.
Deeply rooted in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the use of Andrographis Paniculata as a medicinal herb dates back to 3000 – 4000 BCE, when Ayurvedic Medicine first began in India. In fact, according to some historical accounts, Andrographis Paniculata is credited with stopping the 1919 Indian flu epidemic that followed right after the 1918 Spanish Influenza outbreak.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Andrographis Paniculata falls under the category of ‘Herbs that clear Heat and relieve toxicity’. Such herbs are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as Internal Heat in TCM. Hence, most herbs in this category have antibacterial and antiviral properties, and can remove infectious toxins from the body.
Cold in nature, Andrographis Paniculata can help individuals with too much Heat in their body, such as those experiencing a Yang Excess or a Yin Deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance in their body. Bitter in taste, Andrographis Paniculata can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. In particular, Andrographis Paniculata targets the stomach, the Lungs and the intestines.
Functions and Benefits of Andrographis Paniculata
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Andrographis Paniculata has the following health benefits.
Andrographis Paniculata can clear Heat and resolve fire toxicity to relieve discomfort in the throat. For example, the herb can help to relieve Heat in the Lungs and throat, asthma, throat pain, swollen tongue, sore throat, encephalitis B and acute infections of the gastrointestinal tract. Andrographis Paniculata is also used to treat toxic skin disorders such as sores and carbuncles.
Andrographis Paniculata can dry Dampness and stop diarrhoea as well. For example, the herb can address Damp-Heat dysentery in the intestines, Heat in the gallbladder, viral hepatitis, herpes, hot and painful urinary dysfunction and urinary tract infections. In addition, as Andrographis Paniculata can cool the blood and resolve phlegm, the herb is also indicated for epistaxis and phlegm Heat with purulent sputum.
In its fresh form, Andrographis Paniculata can be applied topically to relieve eczema and snake bites too.
Modern studies have found that andrographolides, the main compounds in Andrographis Paniculata, contain antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects. This makes Andrographis Paniculata a natural immunity booster that can fight infections and relieve cold, flu and other respiratory infections, such as cough and sore throat.
With anti-inflammatory properties, Andrographis Paniculata may be able to reduce symptoms of ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis, a condition caused by inflammation in the joints. Andrographis Paniculata may also help to protect your liver if attacked by hepatitis C. A 2019 study also observed that Andrographis Paniculata may be able to reduce osteoarthritis pain.
Some research suggests that Andrographis Paniculata may contain anti-cancer effects. The herb has exhibited potent cytotoxic activity against cancer cells, and its andrographolides are believed to possess strong anti-cancer activity that induce cell changes. In addition, animal studies have discovered that Andrographis Paniculata has anti-diabetic potential as well.
How to Use Andrographis Paniculata
If taken in powder form, the recommended daily dosage of Andrographis Paniculata is
1 – 1.5g. If used as a decoction, the recommended daily dosage of Andrographis Paniculata is 3 – 6g. For topical administration, do consult your healthcare provider for the proper dosage for your condition.
Do note that as the herb is quite bitter, its decoction may cause nausea or vomiting. Hence, Andrographis Paniculata is more commonly available as pills and tablets. Andrographis Paniculata is also available in other supplement forms such as tincture, tea, juice and paste.
Cautions and Side Effects of Andrographis Paniculata
Andrographis Paniculata should not be used by individuals who are experiencing Deficiency-Cold in the Spleen or stomach, pregnancy, autoimmune diseases or undergoing chemotherapy. Also, do not use this herb if you are about to undergo surgery or taking blood-thinning medications.
Do not consume Andrographis Paniculata together with medications such as paracetamol, immunosuppressants, insulin, anticoagulants and medications for high blood pressure. It is best to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to include Andrographis Paniculata in your healthcare routine.
Over-consuming Andrographis Paniculata or taking it for a long period of time may bring side effects. Some common side effects associated with Andrographis Paniculata include gastrointestinal discomfort, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, vomiting, rashes, headache and fatigue.
Here is a summary for Andrographis Paniculata:
- Herb name (Chinese): 穿心莲
- Herb name (Pin Yin): chuān xīn lián
- Herb name (English): Common Andrographis Herb
- Herb name (Botanical): Herba Andrographis
- Origin of species: Andrographis paniculata (Burm. f.) Nees
- Part(s) of herb used: Plant parts above ground
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Yunnan, Sichuan, Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Shandong, Beijing
- Taste(s) & Properties: Bitter; Cold; Administrates the Heart, Lung, Large Intestine and Bladder Meridians
- Actions: Relieves early symptoms of respiratory ailments, skin rashes and diarrhoea; Eases sore throat, coughs with yellow oral discharge and insect bites
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Kumar, R. A., Sridevi, K., Kumar, N. V., Nanduri, S., & Rajagopal, S. (2004). Anticancer and immunostimulatory compounds from Andrographis paniculata. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 92(2-3), 291-295.[Accessed on 8th February 2023]
Singha, P. K., Roy, S., & Dey, S. (2003). Antimicrobial activity of Andrographis paniculata. Fitoterapia, 74(7), 692-694.[Accessed on 8th February 2023]
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