Andrographis is a shrub found throughout India and other Asian countries that is sometimes called "Indian echinacea." It has been used historically in epidemics, including the Indian flu epidemic in 1919 during which andrographis was credited with stopping the spread of the disease.
What Is Andrographis Used for Today?
Over the last decade, a proprietary extract of andrographis (currently sold in combination with eleutherococcus) has become popular in Scandinavia as a treatment for colds
Preliminary studies in animals weakly suggest that andrographis may offer benefits for preventing
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Andrographis?
Reducing Cold Symptoms
A meta-analysis (statistically rigorous review of studies) published in 2004 found seven reasonable quality double-blind, controlled trials, enrolling a total of 896 participants, evaluating the use of a proprietary andrographis extract for the treatment of acute respiratory infections. 11,12,13,26 The combined results indicate that this andrographis extract is more effective than placebo for reducing symptoms.
For example, a 4-day,
Three other double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, enrolling a total of about 400 people, evaluated a related proprietary herbal combination treatment containing both andrographis and
A different formulation of andrographis has been compared to acetaminophen (Tylenol). In a double-blind study of 152 adults with sore throat and fever, participants received andrographis (in doses of 3 g per day or 6 g per day, for 7 days) or acetaminophen.
A Russian study of questionable quality apparently found andrographis extract approximately as effective as the drug amanditine for influenza infections.
According to one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, andrographis may increase resistance to colds.
By the end of the trial, only 16 people in the group using andrographis had experienced colds, compared to 33 of the placebo-group participants. This difference was statistically significant, indicating that andrographis reduces the risk of catching a cold by a factor of two as compared to placebo.
A typical dosage of andrographis is 400 mg 3 times a day. Doses as high as 1,000 to 2,000 mg 3 times daily have been used in some studies. Andrographis is usually standardized to its content of andrographolide, typically 4% to 6%. Note that virtually all published studies of andrographis have involved a single proprietary product. It is not clear that the results of these studies apply to products using different andrographis sources, or different methods of extraction.
Andrographis has not been associated with any side effects in human studies. In one study, participants were monitored for changes in liver function, blood counts, kidney function, and other laboratory measures of toxicity. 18 No problems were found.
However, some animal studies have raised concerns that andrographis may impair fertility. One study found that male rats became infertile when fed 20 mg of andrographis powder daily.
One group of female mice also did not fare well on high dosages of andrographis.
Finally, if androphraphis does indeed stimulate the immune system, this would lead to a whole host of potential risks. The immune system is balanced on a knife edge. An immune system that is too relaxed fails to defend us from infections, but an immune system that is too active attacks healthy tissues, causing autoimmune diseases. A universal immune booster might cause or exacerbate
Safety in young children, nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has also not been established.
Also, because andrographis may stimulate gallbladder contraction, it should not be used by individuals with gallbladder disease except under physician supervision.
11. Caceres DD, Hancke JL, Burgos RA, et al. Use of visual analogue scale measurements (VAS) to assess the effectiveness of standardized Andrographis paniculata extract SHA-10 in reducing the symptoms of common cold. A randomized double blind-placebo study. Phytomedicine. 1999;6:217-223.
14. Caceres DD, Hancke JL, Burgos RA, et al. Use of visual analogue scale measurements (VAS) to assess the effectiveness of standardized Andrographis paniculata extract SHA-10 in reducing the symptoms of common cold. A randomized double blind-placebo study. Phytomedicine . 1999;6:217-223.
15. Melchior J, Spasov AA, Ostrovskij OV, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot and phase III study of activity of standardized Andrographis paniculata Herba Nees extract fixed combination (Kan jang) in the treatment of uncomplicated upper-respiratory tract infection. Phytomedicine . 2000;7:341-350.
22. Gabrielian ES, Shukarian AK, Goukasova GI, et al. A double blind, placebo-controlled study of Andrographis paniculata fixed combination Kan Jang in the treatment of acute upper respiratory tract infections including sinusitis. Phytomedicine . 2002;9:589-597.
23. Burgos RA, Aguila MJ, Santiesteban ET. Andrographis paniculata (Nees) induces relaxation of uterus by blocking voltage operated calcium channels and inhibits Ca(+2) influx. Phytother Res . 2001;15:235-239.
25. Amaryan G, Astvatsatryan V, Gabrielyan E, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, pilot clinical trial of ImmunoGuard—a standardized fixed combination of Andrographis paniculata Nees, with Eleutherococcus senticosus Maxim, Schizandra chinensis Bail, and Glycyrrhiza glabra L . extracts in patients with familial Mediterranean fever. Phytomedicine . 2003;10:271-285.
27. Spasov AA, Ostrovskij OV, Chernikov MV, et al. Comparative controlled study of Andrographis paniculata fixed combination, Kan Jang(R) and an echinacea preparation as adjuvant, in the treatment of uncomplicated respiratory disease in children. Phytother Res . 2004;18:47-53.
29. Mkrtchyan A, Panosyan V, Panossian A, et al. A phase I clinical study of Andrographis paniculata fixed combination Kan Jang versus ginseng and valerian on the semen quality of healthy male subjects. Phytomedicine . 2005;12:403-409
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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