Only in the last decade or so, andrographis paniculata has become popular in Scandinavian countries and America as a preventive and treatment for the common cold; hence its nickname―“Indian echinachea.”
The saying “never judge a book by its cover” appears to hold true for this plain-looking shrub.
In its native country, India, andrographis has been credited with stopping the spread of a flu epidemic that swept the globe killing 20 to 50 million people in 1918!
Besides India, this herb is also used traditionally in other Asian countries including China, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, not only for its anti-viral potential, but also for a host of other health-benefiting properties.
Okay, we shall start with its “flu-fighting” prowess first.
Andrographis Paniculata, the Virus-buster!
In 2004, two researchers from the universities of Exeter and Plymouth, UK, published a meta-analysis (statistically rigorous review of studies) of andrographis for the treatment of acute upper respiratory infection.
Overall results showed more effective in relieving flu symptoms compared with placebo.
One of the trials even showed evidence of a “preventive effect” of andrographis.
They found that patients who took andrographis took fewer days sick leave compared to placebo after five days of treatment.
“In conclusion, these data suggest that A. paniculata [andrographis] may be a promising treatment for the alleviation of subjective symptoms of acute upper respiratory tract infection,” the British researchers commented.
They also concluded that “A. paniculata is a herbal treatment option that is worthy of consideration for further research”. (link, pdf)
In Thailand, a group of scientists gathered data from a systematic review of published literature and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. A total of 433 patients in 4 studies were reviewed.
In three of the studies, andrographis paniculata is combined with eleutherococcus senticosus (formerly known as “Siberian Ginseng”).
Their results led them to this recommendation: “A. paniculata extract alone or in combination with A. senticosus [eleutherococcus senticosus, root] extract may be more effective than placebo and may be an appropriate alternative treatment of uncomplicated acute upper respiratory tract infection.”
“These actions could be due to the synergistic immune-enhancing actions of the two herbal extracts when used together,” they added. (link)
In India, five researchers conducted an in vitro study to evaluate the anticancer and immunomodulatory activity of andrographis paniculata extract in human cancer and immune cells.
Andrographolide, the main active compound of the herb, significantly stopped the growth of colon cancer cells and increase the production of our immune armies at low concentrations.
The results have proven that andrographis extract possesses “anticancer activity on diverse cancer cells representing different types of human cancers”. (link)
In another recent Indian study, this time using mice, andographis extract causes a microbe-feeding frenzy or phagocytosis in the critters during their 30 days of treatment―good for them!
The researchers confirmed that androgrophalides has “the ability to enhance immune function, possibly through modulation of immune responses”. (link)
Apotosis or “programmed cell death” (PCD) is our cell’s ability to self-destruct when they become cancerous or pose a threat to the integrity of the organism―our body.
To clean up the debris, a set of “find me and eat me” signals are produced; thus triggering phagocytosis. What a neat way to eliminate the old, unhealthy or damaged cells!
Known as the “Indian gold”, turmeric is loaded with cancer fighters; it is also one of the ten lifesaving supplements recommended by ‘The People’s Chemist’ aka Shane Ellison, M.S.
As always, whenever a herb is found to be (very) effective against a disease, drug companies will start working rigorously to design drugs (a synthetic version) that mimic the active compounds in the plant. Turmeric and andrographis are not spared!
Andrographis Paniculata Protects Your Liver!
Andrographis paniculata is used extensively by traditional healers as a hepatoprotective and hepatostimulative (hepato here refers to the liver) agent and has shown to protect the liver against various liver diseases.
An in vivo study was conducted by a group of researchers at Gujarat University in India to investigate the potency of andrographolide as an antitumor compound in BHC-induced liver damage.
The mice were divided into three groups: A control group; a group treated with hexachlorocyclohexane (BHC) only; and another with andrographolide and BHC.
Don't bother twisting your tongue. HCH is an insecticide used on fruits and vegetables.
I don’t want to alarm you but …
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that HCH (all isomers) may reasonably be anticipated to cause cancer in humans. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified HCH (all isomers) as possibly carcinogenic to humans. (Source: ATSDR)
The damaged liver in the andrographolide-fed mice showed a recovery! The study concluded that “the regenerative capability elicited by andrographolide is possibly due to its ability to reactivate liver function enzymes.” (link)
The same researchers did another study prior to this to investigate the effect of andrographolide on the hepatocellular antioxidant defense system. Positive results showed andrographolide stimulating antioxidant activities in liver cells.
According to scientists of a 2009 review article (link, pdf), andrographolide is a versatile anti-tumor fighter. Exhibiting a dual property, it “acts both directly and indirectly on the cancer cells”. It has shown to:
Perhaps you already know that milk thistle, a well-known traditional Western herb, is an extremely powerful antioxidant that works in the liver.
You may have taken it in combination with turmeric, another potent antioxidant. Now, imagine the benefits of synergy you’ll be getting when Andrographis is added!
Andrographis Paniculata Cools the “Fire”
A picture is worth a thousand words … how true.
The figure below shows an in vitro and in vivo biological actions of andrographis paniculata extract as an anti-inflammatory traditional medicine herb. Prohibition sign indicate the inhibitory effect of ethyl acetate extract of AP (andrographis paniculata).
Results: AP significantly inhibited the secretion of several inflammatory mediators, which are responsible for the set up of an inflammatory cascade leading to the later full blown injury. (link)
Adverse side effects are rare (itching of skin has been observed). You don’t have to worry about toxicity. Andrographis use dates back thousands of years. No important organs are damaged from it; and nobody has ever died from it either.
However, I’m not suggesting you should overdose yourself with it. There is contradictory evidence from animal studies on whether the herb andrographis may impair fertility.
Hmm, a natural contraceptive …
Scrape the idea!
The Finest Andrographis Paniculata Formula
Have you come across any natural health supplement that combines andrographis with eleutherococcus, milk thistle, and turmeric?
Wait, it doesn't stop there. Top it up with another 17 effective and synergistic “antioxidant-immune-boosting-anti-inflammatory” ingredients: olive leaf, green tea, beta glucan, quercetin and bromelain, among others.
If you're still searching, look no further.
“Good news for you. Last November the nurse from my husband's Company asked him if he was going to have flu jab. He said he wasn't interested because he was taking some supplements (Immu-Stay). She wasn't very happy about it and said it wouldn't protect him from flu virus. “We shall see”, he replied to her.
Anyway, now it is February and there are about 6 people from his office off sick with flu, and all of them took the jab. Sounds like a joke don't you think? He has come through the winter without flu and, even better, without symptoms of rhinitis. He takes Total Balance and Omega-3 (almost two years now) and he's very happy with the lot.” - Vera B, UK
The Bottom Line
The magic word here is synergy. 21 active ingredients (all clinically PROVEN to be safe and effective) in proper dosages working synergistically and enhancing each other.
Immu-Stay or “Liver-Protec”, as I sometimes candidly call it, can be taken long-term (half dose), and increased to 6 per day (full dose) at times of additional need.
No worries of overdosing, or under-dosing.
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