In my journey as an Ayurvedic practitioner and then as an Herbalist, Andrographis came up many times as one of the strongest bitters. In 2019, when I was in Dhaka, Bangladesh – there was an outbreak of Dengue fever. I ensured I had Andrographis with me. In Bangladesh, Andrographis is known as Kalmegh or the Black Cloud. Local vendors also call it Green Chirata. It is widely used in Ayurveda, TCM and Thai herbal medicine.
Since Andrographis is a very powerful herb, therefore, it is utmost important to speak with your ND or Herbalist before taking the herb, especially if you are taking any medication.
I thought I share the Ayurvedic Profile and the benefits of Andrographis in this month’s blog.
Profile of Herb
Botanical Name: Andrographis Paniculata
Ayurvedic Name: Bhunimba (Neem of the Earth)
English: The Creat
Bangla: Kalmegh (Black Cloud)
Dosha’s: PK-, V+
Taste (Rasa): Bitter
Qualities (Guna): Dry, light
Potency (Virya): Cooling
Post Digestion (Vipaka): Pungent
Tissues (Dhatu): Plasma, Blood, Muscle and Fat
Systems: Digestive and circulatory
Parts Used: Leaf and Root. Herbalists can use the whole plant to make infusion or tincture.
Preparation: tea/infusion, decoction, tincture, fresh leaf juice, dried powder in capsule or tablets.
Dosage: for adults, make tea with 2-3 grams of dried leaf or a few fresh leaves to make 15-30 ml tea. However, therapeutic dosages must be taken after discussed with a Herbalist. Dosage for capsules should be on the bottle. Fresh leaf juice 5-10 ml in enough per day.
Medicine System: Andrographis is widely used in Ayurveda and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). It is also used in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Malaysian medicine.
Caution: Cannot be used during pregnancy and lactation. In excess Andrographis can cause anorexia, emesis and digestive discomfort.
Constituents: Andrographolide, diterpenoid lactone
Actions: Alterative, anti-bacterial, anticancer, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-periodic, antipyretic, anti viral, bitter, cardiac tonic, cholagogue, diuretic, depurative, expectorant, febrifuge, hepatoprotective, immune-stimulant, stomachic and soporific.
Contraindication: Do not take Andrographis if you are on chemotherapy drugs, blood pressure lowering drugs, anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs. Studies also has shown adverse effect if taken with Aminophylline/Bronchodilators, CYP450 and UGT 2B7 substrate drugs.
Benefits of Kalmegh or Andrographis
Immune System: A powerful immunostimulant herb that is used individually or in formulas, to protect from viral and bacterial conditions. It enhances the production of white blood cells, specifically NK cells and T helper cells. Its anti-pyretic and anti viral properties make it useful in malaria or any kind of fever. The herb has been studied for its impact on HIV and cancer. Other diseases Andrographis is used in are, mouth ulcers, herpes zoster etc.
Respiratory System: Andrographis is commonly used in traditional medicine for cold, influenza and upper respiratory infections such as flu, bronchitis. It is a common remedy for headaches cause by cold and flu, tonsil inflammation etc. Depending on the condition, Andrographis, either by itself or in combination with other herbs, can reduce duration and severity and recovery tine for cold, flu and fever. Symptoms such as, coughing, sinus congestion, runny nose, sore throat, high fever has shown to improve when given Andrographis. A compound in Andrographis called, andrographolide may help protect lungs from damage during infection. Andrographolide is known for its anti viral actions. It inhibits some aspects of viral replication and the virus’s ability to use their protein to enter human cells.
Liver & Spleen Protective: In Ayurvedic Medicine, Andrographis is used to eliminate “Ama” or “Toxins”. This King of Bitters improves liver functions, increases bile flow and used in many liver and spleen related conditions such as, fatty liver, jaundice. As a cholagogue it stimulates bile flow and relieves constipation that is due to liver/gallbladder stagnation.
Skin Health: Andrographis can purify blood and improve liver function which leads to better skin health. Andrographis has been used In Herbal Medicine or Ayurveda for treating acne, eczema, psoriasis and vitiligo.
Digestive Health: In Ayurveda the concept of “agni” is extremely important and known to be the gatekeeper of health and vitality. The “Jathara-Agni” is the controller of the digestion and assimilation of food. Andrographis impacts the Jathar Agni by stimulating appetite, relieving flatulence, bloating and by alleviating “Ama” that cause IBS or IBD. Kalmegh also is used in dysentery, ulcerative colitis etc. Andrographis can expel parasites and worms that cause digestive havoc in the body. Since Kalmegh is known to improve fat metabolism (impact Meda Dhatu) as it assists with eliminating excess weight in Kapha’s. In TCM Andrographis is used to treat “leaky gut” syndrome, which if not healed on time, may cause stress on the immune system.
Lymphatic & Urinary System: Andrographis is also known to reduce lymphatic congestion, edema and have a positive impact on the Mutra Vaha Srota (Urinary Tract System).
Reproductive Health: Depending on dosage and duration it has been studied as a male birth control herb.
Hormonal Health: As a bitter tonic, kalmegh has great influence on the pancreas and insulin. Therefore, it has a positive impact on people with diabetes.
Inflammatory Disease: Andrographis improves the anti-inflammatory response. This herb is used for ulcerative colitis and arthritis.
Bone and Joint Health: Andrographis promotes joint health by reducing swelling and pain in the joints and prevents cartilage damage. It also reduces joint stiffness, joint flexibility, and weakness.
In fold medicine, Andrographis was also used as an antidote for snake bite.
Andrographis combined with Melatonin:
A combined treatment with melatonin and andrographis promotes autophagy and anticancer activity in colorectal cancer.
Although Andrographis is a wonderful herb, its best to use it as per the recommendation that comes from your ND or Herbalist. When you drink as tea or tincture, swish around your month and then swallow.
If you have had an personal experience or success story with Andrographis please share with us in the comment section.
If you have any questions with regards to Andrographis you can also write us on the comment section.
- Singh Khalsa, Karta Purkh and Tierra, Michael, The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs, Aug 14, 2018
- Dass, Vishu, Ayurvedic Herbology. Lotus Press. 2013
- Pole, Sebastian, Ayurvedic Medicine. Singing Dragon
- Elliotsone, Susan, Advanced Herbal Medicine, Course Materials.