10 Andrographis Benefits and How to Choose

There are a variety of plants and herbs thought to have healing properties and health benefits. You can use aloe vera for sunburn relief, blue tansy for skin care, and elderberry to boost your immune system.

But you may not be familiar with andrographis, a medicinal herb that was traditionally used to treat ailments such as stomach aches, inflammation, diarrhea, and fevers (1). It has even been used as an antidote for poisonous snake bites and insect stings.

While it may not be the first ingredient you see on labels at the wellness store, andrographis is found in a variety of herbal formulas. Let’s dive deeper to understand andrographis benefits and how this Eastern herb is used in Western healing.

What Is Andrographis?

Andrographis paniculata is a bitter herb native to India, mainland China, and Taiwan, says Anna Panettiere, a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and practitioner of Chinese medicine in the state of New York. She adds that it has also been widely available in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Thailand, among other countries.

“The leaf and underground stem are used medicinally,” adds Dr. Carolyn Dean, bestselling author, health and wellness thought leader, and founder of RNA Reset. The Chinese name for the herb is Chuān Xīn Lián, she adds.

10 Andrographis Benefits

Eastern cultures have used andrographis to assist with a variety of health problems, Panettiere explains. “It has been used alone or in combination with other herbs for the treatment of fever and sore throat, diabetes, dysentery, leprosy, intestinal parasites and malaria,” she says. “A paste of andrographis has traditionally been applied to the skin for snakebites, scorpion stings, boils, skin eruptions, and infected wounds.”

Additionally, andrographis is associated with relief from the common cold. In a double-blind study, tablets formulated with andrographis extract significantly reduced the symptoms and length of the cold and flu in participants (2).

“Andrographis reduces fever and stimulates the body’s immune response,” says Panettiere. “Studies have shown that it reduces symptoms of the common cold such as sinus pain, headache, sore throat, shivering, muscle aches, and runny nose.”

Other benefits of andrographis, according to Panettiere, include:

  • Antibacterial properties
  • Antiviral properties
  • Antifungal properties

How to Use Andrographis

Traditional use of andrographis in Chinese medicine involves boiling the herb for 20-30 minutes, says Dean, and administering it in a fresh liquid form. This is the most potent and effective use of the herb.

But today, you’ll find andrographis in several more convenient forms, says Panettiere. “It is available in granular form and tincture,” she says. “Herbal formulas containing andrographis are available in tablet or capsule form.”

Directions for taking andrographis will depend on the form and potency of the supplement, extract, liquid, or tincture. Regardless of the form you decide to take, you should consult your doctor or a licensed herbalist to assess whether taking andrographis will benefit your health.

“Andrographis should be taken as directed by an experienced herbalist and it should never be taken for more than three months,” says Panettiere. “It is very cold and bitter in nature and can lead to digestive difficulties.”

Andrographis Side Effects

Although andrographis has a variety of benefits, it can cause unwelcome and even dangerous side effects if not taken properly.

“It should never be taken by pregnant women and should be used with extreme caution by those who are trying to conceive,” says Panettiere. “Research in mice indicates that andrographis decreases fertility for males and females and can cause spontaneous abortion (3).”

Panettiere adds that the herb has a very bitter taste, which some people may find unpleasant.

Other andrographis side effects may include:

  • Stomach ache
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting

How to Choose an Andrographis Supplement

When considering an herbal supplement—such as one containing andrographis—Panettiere says that it’s important the formula meets the standards of current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “It should also be third-party tested for purity,” she says.

Dean recommends organic formulas and says consumers should closely research products to ensure the company is using the medicinal part of the plant. “With andrographis, the leaf and underground stem have the active chemicals but twigs can be substituted,” she says. “If I’m going to be using them for an extended period, I demand a certificate of analysis from the manufacturer to ensure I’m not ingesting toxins.”

Choosing an andrographis supplement should be done so with caution due to potential side effects. “Because of all of the cautions about andrographis, I do not recommend people order supplements without consulting a trained herbalist,” says Panettiere.

Where to Buy Andrographis

Dried andrographis can be found in custom Chinese herbal pharmacies around the country, says Panettiere. You can also work directly with herbalists or naturopathic doctors to find a formula made specifically to meet your needs.

Other herbal andrographis supplements are available at health-food stores and online retailers, including LuckyVitamin.com, where we hand-pick natural products we believe in.

 

Have you ever used an herbal remedy to help relieve common cold symptoms? Let us know in the comments!

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