Andrographis paniculata is a small annual herb that grows to a height of 1-4 feet. It is erect and prefers moist and shady places. This plant has a dark, green, slender stem that remains squared in cross-section. It has wings along the angles and longitudinal furrows. The leaves are lanced shaped and the blades hairless. These are 8×2.5 cm. It has spreading racemes that bear flowers. The fruit is a capsule 2 cm long with yellow-brown seeds.
It grows in many kinds of habitats such as hillsides, coastlines, plains. People also grow it on farms. You can find it growing in the wastelands and by the roadsides. The Andrographis paniculata prefers sunny locations. Sowing of seeds occurs in May-June. The seedlings are transplanted 60×30 cm apart.
The common names include ‘king of bitters,’ Indian Echinacea, kalmegh, chuan xin liang, and sambiloto.
Botanical name or family
The botanical name is Andrographis Paniculata and family is Acanthaceae.
Geological area where these Andrographis paniculata grows
The plant is native to South India and Sri Lanka. It is also found in China, Pakistan, and Thailand. People grow it in the East and West Indies.
Medicinal uses of Andrographis paniculata (kalmegh) in different disease
Since ancient time, the Andrographis paniculata has found use in Traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Siddha medicine. Some local tribes too used them to treat various ailments.
Good for the heart
Studies in China show that Andrographolide is useful in treating atherosclerosis. This is because it helps prevent the formation of blood clots. It proves useful for preventing heart attacks. There are a few indications that restenosis following angioplasty may be prevented using Andrographis Paniculata.
Protection for the liver
The Andrographolide has an action equal to that of silymarin in protecting the liver. Silymarin is the active component of milk thistle. Treatment of liver and gall bladder conditions such as jaundice, viral hepatitis, sluggish liver, liver congestion, and drug induced liver damage is found to be effective.
It shows anti-parasitic, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. Due to this, people use it for treating chicken pox, mumps, ear infections, and tuberculosis. Andrographis shows action against P. Aeruginosa that shows resistance to many drugs and is responsible for many diseases such as sepsis and pneumonia.
Japanese researchers found that Andrographis and its extracts were effective in preventing the multiplication of cancer cells of various kinds.
- Lung cancer: One of the extracts of Andrographis known as Andrographolide suppresses MMP2 enzyme that promotes growth of lung cancer. It also supresses the growth of six other lung cancer cells.
- Brain cancer: Andrographolide is shown to suppress propagation of human glioblastoma.
- Skin cancer: Andrographolide shows active action against melanoma skin cancer. Tests carried out in mice showed suppression of the growth of cancer cells up t51% for 200g/kg dose. Tests conducted in humans also proved to have a positive effect in suppressing cancer cell proliferation.
- Blood cancer: In cancer of the white blood cells, Andrographolide caused increased cell death and reduced proliferation. In acute myeloid leukaemia, it showed toxicity of a high degree.
- Breast cancer: Andrographolide encourages breast cancer cell death.
- Colon cancer: Andrographolide inhibits growth of colon cancer cells. For certain drug-resistant rectal and colon cells, Andrographolide is shown to increase the toxicity of chemotherapy drugs. By inhibiting the growth of polyps, Andrographolide decreases the proliferation of the colon cancer cells.
- Pancreatic cancer: Andrographolide shows effective action against pancreatic cancer.
- Kidney cancer: Andrographolide inhibits reproduction of at least two cell lines of kidney cancer.
Upper respiratory tract infections and cold
The herb and its extracts help relieve the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, cold, and pneumonia. Andrographolide has potent action against mycobacterium responsible for tuberculosis. You can prevent cold by taking the Andrographis paniculata herb in the form of a tea. It reduces the symptoms of cold, including headaches, fatigue, fever, and cough. The action is quick and safe so that you can use it for children too. This herb proves effective for the treatment of sinus infections. Smokers can use this herb as a preventative to lung injury.
Inflammatory bowel disease
Study in mice showed that Andrographis removed all symptoms of colitis. The mucosal healing rate in humans is also significant. It is thought that Andrographolide activates the intestinal disaccharidases such as lactase, sucrase, and maltase. This speeds up intestinal digestion.
Conditions of hyperglycaemia and insulin deficiency is seen to improve using Andrographolide. You can treat patients having high levels of triglycerides. Also read: Diabetes home remedies
This herb finds use in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis, muscular pain, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia.
Diarrhoea and dysentery
The herb is renowned for its anti-inflammatory action. People also use it on their burns due to this.
People used Andrographis instead of quinine to treat malaria because it was more effective. They use different forms of Andrographolide to cure infestation by the Giant Roundworm, Ascaris lumbricoides (malaria parasite).
This bitter shrub can boost the immune system of the body. Though yet not proven, researchers think that Andrographis enhances white blood cell production. Mice were given Andrographolide along with Salmonella vaccine showed good antibody response specific to salmonella. Along with this, it might be useful in promoting the healthy activity of out lymphatic system. It is also thought to support the release of interferon. All these make our body fight diseases effectively.
A type of leprosy known as Weil’s disease can be treated effectively using the herb. The efficacy is comparable tthe treatment given with the antibiotic nitrofurantoin. However, the side effects on treating with Andrographis is lesser.
HIV and AIDS
Some scientists think that Andrographis paniculata might prove effective in treating HIV and AIDS. One can use one teaspoon of dried Andrographis leaves in one cup of water. Take this twice a day for 10 days.
Side effects & Precautions
The people who take the kalmegh supplement should take care because having to much of the supplement can cause nausea. It lowers the blood pressure and has a bad taste. On the plus side, Andrographis helps to control metabolic syndrome. It has antioxidant properties and helps anti-ageing action. It has an antiviral action that helps one treat herpes simplex virus. Andrographis paniculata does not show results against A. Streptococci and E. coli. Studies testing the action of Andrographis for MRSA and S. Aureus proved inconclusive. Women who are trying to conceive should not take this medicine.