Andrographis: Strengthen Your Immune System Naturally
Are you interested in strengthening your immune system naturally? Andrographis is a bitter herb that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicines for thousands of years. It even helped stem the tide of the 1919 Indian flu epidemic. Researchers around the world are constantly discovering new benefits of this amazing botanical.
Read on for everything you need to know about using Andrographis to strengthen and support your immune system.
Fast Facts About Andrographis
Scientific name: Andrographis paniculata
Other names: Kalmegh, King of Bitters, Green Chiretta, Indian Chiretta, Creat, chuān xīn lián
Grown in tropical and subtropical climates, this annual plant grows throughout much of Asia and the tropics of India and Sri Lanka. Thanks to its intense bitter flavor, it has been nicknamed “The King of Bitters.” For centuries, this traditional medicinal plant has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine systems. Recently, it has become the subject of Western research for its remarkable healing properties.
Is Andrographis the same as echinacea?
No, Andrographis comes from the annual Andrographis paniculata, native to India and Asia. Echinacea is derived from three specific perennial varieties of North American daisies - Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, and Echinacea pallida.
What is Andrographis complex used for?
Andrographis in Chinese medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine, Andrographis detoxifies and cools the body. It is thought to remove excess heat from the body, including fevers. Andrographis is commonly prescribed for respiratory and throat infections and inflammatory problems. It is also used to treat heart disease, HIV, and gastrointestinal problems.
Andrographis in Ayurvedic medicine
This bitter herb is also widely used in Ayurvedic practice. For centuries, it has been used to treat fever, sore throat, upper respiratory infections, and many infectious diseases. Andrographis is primarily used to support the respiratory, digestive and immune systems. During the 1919 Indian flu epidemic, Andrographis was successfully used to treat flu and arrest the spread of the disease.
In Ayurvedic medicine, Andrographis complex is also prescribed to treat cancer. It stimulates the body to produce a natural immune response through both antigen-specific and non-specific macrophage responses.
Andrographis in Western alternative medicine
In Western alternative medicine, Andrographis has become increasingly popular as a remedy for colds and flu. Numerous studies have shown that supplementing with Andrographis complex can reduce the duration and severity of symptoms. For most American adults, who experience an average of 2-4 colds per year, Andrographis can be a beneficial supplement.
In addition, Andrographis is used to support immune system function, reduce inflammation, and treat certain conditions such as tonsillopharyngitis, ulcerative colitis, and osteoarthritis. New research continues to discover more benefits of supplementing with Andrographis, as discussed in the next section.
Benefits of Andrographis complex
The most important active ingredient in Andrographis is called Andrographolide. This naturally occurring chemical compound has the following benefits.
- Antioxidant – protects cells from oxidative damage
- Anti-inflammatory – prevents inflammation, a key contributor to many diseases
- Immunomodulatory – regulates the immune system
- Antiseptic – prevents infection
- Hypolipidemic – decreases fat levels in the bloodstream
- Cardioprotective – prevents heart damage
- Hepatoprotective – prevents liver damage
- Neuroprotective – protects the brain
In a 2018 scientific review of 139 studies, authors from across the globe concluded that Andrographis showed promise of being a potent anti-cancer therapy. They noted, “Furthermore, andrographolide was found to exert cytotoxic/anti-cancer effects on almost all types of cell lines… After careful consideration of the relevant evidence, we suggest that andrographolide can be one of the potential agents in the treatment of cancer in the near future.”
Does Andrographis help with inflammation and osteoarthritis?
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, Andrographis has been shown to provide relief for osteoarthritis and joint inflammation. It halts inflammatory triggers while protecting collagen and hyaluronic acid. It can also relieve inflammation-provoked pain.
Does Andrographis lower blood pressure?
Yes, Andrographis does lower blood pressure. In several studies of rats and mice, this herb has been shown to have vasorelaxant, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. For example, one 1996 study showed that an aqueous extract of Andrographis reduced blood pressure in rats.
This property can be helpful for people who have slightly elevated blood pressure and prefer not to use traditional Western medication. However, those who are currently taking blood pressure medication should seek advice from a medical practitioner before adding any supplements or medications to their daily regimen.
In addition, those undergoing surgery should discontinue the use of Andrographis before surgery to avoid adverse events due to lowered blood pressure.
Is Andrographis good for the kidneys?
Yes, Andrographis can help detoxify the kidneys and prevent renal failure. A 2009 Swedish study on rats concluded that “the aqueous extract (whole plant) of A. paniculata…exhibits a significant renoprotective effect in gentamicin-induced nephrotoxicity in male Wistar albino rats.” This suggests that Andrographis may be a helpful supplement for those with a genetic predisposition to kidney disease or kidney problems. However, those with kidney problems should always speak to a doctor first before supplementing with Andrographis.
In addition, Andrographis extracts should never be taken intravenously since this can cause kidney damage.
Is Andrographis good for the liver?
In traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, Andrographis is used as a liver tonic.
In a 2014 study in the journal PLOS One, researchers examined rats who consumed the toxin thioacetamide, which causes cirrhosis. One group of rats was given 250 mg of Andrographis daily; a second group was given 500 mg/daily; and a third group was treated with silymarin, a common drug used for cirrhosis. Rats who were given 500 mg of Andrographis daily recovered just as well as rats who were given silymarin, a common cure for cirrhosis. This suggests that Andrographis could effectively treat liver ailments, even those as severe as cirrhosis.
Andrographis works well because it boosts the production of two essential antioxidants - glutathione and superoxide dismutase. This helps repair damaged cells and prevent further oxidative damage.
Side Effects of Andrographis
What are the side effects of Andrographis?
Possible side effects include headache, fatigue, allergic reactions, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. However, these side effects are more common with larger doses and herbs not sourced properly. It is extremely important to ensure you are getting Andrographis from a reputable source that tests each bottle for possible contaminants.
Andrographis is a potent herb that can have potentially harmful interactions when taken with other medications. Taking Andrographis is not recommended if you already take any of the following medicines.
- Antihypertensive drugs – medications to lower blood pressure
- Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs – blood thinners
- Chemotherapy medication
- UGT 2B7 substrate medication
Is Andrographis safe for pregnant or nursing mothers?
No. Andrographis acts as an abortifacient and could cause miscarriage. It also inhibits progesterone production and should not be used by women who are trying to conceive. It is also not recommended for nursing mothers.
What to Look for in an Andrographis Complex Supplement
Choosing a quality provider is essential to get the maximum nutritional benefits from an Andrographis supplement. Inferior grades of herb may produce a supplement with weaker medicinal properties.
That’s why we recommend choosing a supplement produced from organic plants that preserve the original compound’s phytochemical makeup.
Our preferred provider is Standard Process because of their commitment to organic, high-quality supplements. Most of their ingredients are grown on their 700-acre organic farm in Palmyra, Wisconsin. This ensures that each ingredient is fresh, organic, and top quality while reducing its carbon footprint.
Their MediHerb line of products, cofounded in 1986 by Professor Kerry Bone, offers herbal supplements drawn from the best of traditional Eastern medicine and cutting-edge Western research. It includes an Andrographis Complex supplement containing Andrographis, Echinacea, and Holy Basil.
How much Andrographis Complex Should You Take?
It depends on whether you are taking Andrographis complex to treat a cold or flu or taking it to prevent illness.
To treat a cold, flu, or other respiratory tract infection, you can supplement with 3-6 g daily.
You can take 200-400 mg daily for general health support and prevention.
Other Herbs that Support the Immune System
In addition, there are several other herbs to consider that support a healthy immune response.
One of the most popular natural remedies for cold and flu, echinacea is produced from 3 varieties of North American daisies. Research shows that echinacea extract helps dendritic cells mature and can increase the activity of natural killer cells, macrophages, and phagocytes. In plain English, it helps your immune system respond faster and more effectively! It can also prevent a “cytokine storm,” a severe immune system reaction when the body is overwhelmed by cytokine cells.
As a prevention strategy for cold and flu, echinacea can be taken in doses of 2400 mg daily for the four-month flu season. For acute colds, a daily dose of 4000 mg is recommended.
A traditional European remedy, elderberry is the fruit of the Sambucus tree. While the berries are toxic when raw, they can be cooked to produce syrup, tea, lozenges, or liquid supplements. It helps treat cold and flu symptoms and fight the bacteria that typically cause upper respiratory tract infections. It can also help prevent influenza infections.
Also known as Tulsi, Holy Basil is a perennial plant in the mint family. Indigenous to India, it has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It has been shown to reduce stress, improve brain function, and stabilize blood sugar levels. In addition, it has a beneficial effect on the immune system.
A 2011 human clinical trial followed people who were supplemented with 300 mg of holy basil for a month. By the end of the month, those who took holy basil had much higher levels of interferon-y, IL-4, T-helper cells, and NK cells – all immune cells.
Thanks to its complex blend of immune-strengthening compounds, garlic is an ever-popular home remedy for many ailments. It is commonly used to prevent or treat colds and flu. It also regulates the immune system by increasing the production of T and B cells and boosting the activity of macrophages. It can even lower blood pressure in people with hypertension and regulate serum cholesterol.
The Best Andrographis Complex Supplement
Although Andrographis used to be hard to find in North America, the good news is that it is now easier to find than ever! Our top choice is the Standard Process MediHerb Andrographis Complex Supplement.
Each capsule contains:
- 100 mg Andrographis herb 5:1 extract
- 125 mg of Echinacea root 4:1 extract
- 100 mg of Holy Basil herb 5:1 extract
- 10 mg Holy Basil essential oil
The recommended dosage is 2-4 capsules daily.
Together, these immune-boosting herbs provide the following powerful phytonutrients.
- Andrographolides – which support the immune system
- Flavonoids – antioxidants that regulate cellular function
- Caffeic acid derivatives – antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
- Alkylamides – which regulate the immune system
- Polyphenols - antioxidants
- Essential oils (rich in monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, typically eugenol)
The Andrographis compound is standardized so that each tablet contains 10 mg of Andrographolide. This supplement is an excellent choice to strengthen and support your immune system and your heart, liver, kidneys, and brain.
You can learn more about this supplement here:
Is Andrographis complex right for you?
Are you wondering if Andrographis complex would be a good choice for you? Allow Dr. Ann Doggett of Wholebody Solutions to help.
Dr. Ann has 30 years of experience in chiropractic care, nutrition counseling, and holistic medicine. Her areas of expertise include applied kinesiology, whole food supplementation, and energetic muscle testing.
She received her degree at the New York Chiropractic College and completed her master’s in human nutrition at the University of Bridgeport. She also received a certificate in practical herbal therapy from the Australian College of Phytotherapy.
If you want expert advice on whether Andrographis complex would be right for you, contact our practice by calling 617.328.6300 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org