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Andrographis paniculata

Andrographis for Immune Support and Other uses in Traditional Medicine

Andrographis is a plant native to South Asian countries, renowned for its role in traditional Indian medicine.

What is andrographis?

Andrographis is a plant native to South Asian countries. It is commonly used in traditional Indian medicine, such as Ayurveda; it is an important constituent of at least 26 Ayurvedic formulas in Indian pharmacopoeia. The leaf and stem are used for supporting the immune system. Research suggests it may prevent flu viruses from binding to our protective layer of cells, known as the mucosal layer, and other cells in the body. Therefore, a common use for Andrographis is to remedy or prevent colds and flu, and other infections causing symptoms in the upper respiratory tract. The Chinese and Thai herbal medicine systems have also incorporated this herb; used mostly for its “bitter” properties, as a treatment for digestive problems [I]. Other suggested uses include osteoarthritis and ulcerative colitis.

What are the benefits associated with andrographis?

It has been used by traditional medical practitioners for stomach aches, inflammation, and fevers. In Malaysia, a decoction of the aerial parts is used to treat common cold, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, malaria and snakebite [ii]. Let's look at the potential benefits in more detail.

Immune system benefits

In a study on mice, improvements were seen in the antibody formation and white blood cell activity such as macrophages and lymphocytes; cells which are responsible for fighting infection in the body [iii]. Evidence from clinical trials suggests that Andrographis is effective in reducing the severity and the duration of colds and flu when treatment is started within the first 36 to 48 hours of the onset of symptoms [iv]. Symptoms such as cough, sore throat and fever were reduced.

Anti-microbial activity

Andrographis displays antibacterial properties against a wide array of bacterium including disease causing E.coli. There were also reports of anti-fungal activity against Candida albicans [v].

Antioxidant activity

The antioxidant activity of Andrographis in animal studies was seen to reduce oxidative stress in organs such as the liver, kidney, heart, lungs and spleen [vi]. The body requires a good supply of antioxidants to prevent free radicals from causing mutations in our cell’s DNA which can lead to cancerous changes. Oxidative stress, if left unmanaged can also lead to other health conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

Cell-Protective benefits

In addition to its antioxidant action, Andrographis has been seen in studies to possess protective action against some cancer cell lines, including leukaemia cells, breast cancer and colon cancer [vii] [viii] [ix].

Skin conditions

Traditional use includes a powdered version of the herb is mixed in oil and applied on eczema lesions, it is also used internally for therapeutic effect [x]. Its antimicrobial properties provide good protection against skin infections associated with dermatitis and conditions whereby skin is left exposed to microbes. Such benefits have been seen in studies [xi].

Inflammation and pain

Traditionally the herb may also be used for menstrual pain [xii] [xiii]. Studies show the reduction of inflammatory pathways in response to the compounds contained in Andrographis extracts [xiv] . A small-scale prospective study suggests potential benefits in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis alongside conventional treatment. Mechanisms were found between consumption of Andrographis and reduction of rheumatoid factor [xv].


Andrographis is likely safe when used in doses up to 340 mg daily for up to 12 months. It also appears to be safe when taken as a specific combination product containing Andrographis extract and Eleuthero for 4-7 days [xvi].

Rare side effects

Andrographis can cause rare side effects such diarrhoea, vomiting, rash, headache, runny nose, and fatigue in some people. Side effects are more likely with higher doses [xvii].


Andrographis is possibly unsafe when taken by mouth during pregnancy. There is a concern that it might cause miscarriage.Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding.


There is not currently enough information to know if Andrographis is safe to use when breastfeeding. Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Auto-immune disease

Use in auto-immune disease may worsen symptoms due to Andrographis potentially causing the immune system to become more active.

Bleeding disorders

Andrographis might slow blood clotting. This might increase the risk of bleeding or bruising in people with bleeding disorders.


Andrographis might slow blood clotting and reduce blood pressure. It might cause extra bleeding or low blood pressure during and after surgery. Stop using Andrographis at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Potential interactions

It is important to be aware of the potential interactions of andrographis before taking it. If you require more information, talk to us today or get in touch with your GP or a pharmacist.

Anticoagulant / antiplatelet drugs

Anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs drugs include medications for slowing blood clotting. Andrographis might slow blood clotting. Taking Andrographis along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Antihypertensive drugs

Antihypertensive drugs include medications for high blood pressure. Andrographis appears to decrease blood pressure. Therefore, taking Andrographis along with medications for high blood pressure might cause additive effects and cause your blood pressure to drop too low.


Immunosuppressants include medications that decrease the actions of the immune system. Andrographis increases the immune system. By increasing the immune system, Andrographis might decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system.

Recommended For

Skin Support , Dry Skin , Immunity , Colds , Flu , Viral Infection , Inflammation

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