Nutrition Market

Andrographis: A Key Herbal Ingredient

Andrographis paniculata is a bitter herb that has been used in traditional medicine systems for centuries. Commonly known as "king of bitters,” this plant is now gaining popularity in the West as a beneficial ingredient in certain dietary supplements. Keep reading to learn all about andrographis and how it may support health when used as a supplement ingredient.

What Is Andrographis?

Andrographis paniculata is an annual herbaceous plant native to Southeast Asia. It grows abundantly as a weed in the plains throughout India and other parts of Southern and Southeastern Asia. The leaves and stems of the andrographis plant are extremely bitter in taste. Andrographis has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine for its cooling and cleansing properties.

Potential Benefits of Andrographis

When taken as a supplement ingredient, andrographis offers several science-backed benefits:

  • May support healthy immune function
  • Possesses antioxidant activity to counter free radicals
  • Linked to healthy inflammation response in tissues
  • May support cardiovascular health by promoting healthy blood flow
  • Could have positive neurological effects in the brain
  • Traditionally used to aid digestion and liver health

Modern research also suggests andrographis may be beneficial for supporting upper respiratory tract health.

Andrographis for Immune Health

One of the primary uses of andrographis is to maintain healthy immune system function. Multiple double-blind, placebo-controlled studies demonstrate andrographis’ immune-enhancing properties.

Andrographis contains potent compounds called andrographolides that may stimulate white blood cell production and activity. This could enhance the body’s natural defenses against foreign challenges.

Supplementing with an immune-supportive dose of andrographis may be especially beneficial when environmental assaults are high. This makes andrographis a staple in many herbal blends designed to maintain a robust immune response.

Antioxidant Effects

In vitro and animal research shows that andrographis paniculata promotes antioxidant activity in the body. Its antioxidant properties are linked to the bioactive diterpene lactones found in the herb, particularly the andrographolides.

These antioxidants help neutralise free radicals that can damage cells and lead to oxidative stress. This may promote overall health and resilience in body tissues.

Benefits for Upper Respiratory Health

Among andrographis’ most well-studied benefits is its ability to support upper respiratory function during seasonal changes or exposure to environmental threats. Multiple analyses report andrographis’ positive effects on respiratory health.

For instance, a major statistical review of data from 33 double-blind trials concluded that andrographis significantly improved respiratory symptom severity scores. Participants enjoyed protection against sore throat, tiredness, earache, sleep issues, and sinus congestion.

Supporting Healthy Inflammation

Herbalists traditionally recommend andrographis paniculata for cleansing heat in body tissues. Modern research confirms that andrographis contains naturally-occurring compounds that influence inflammatory pathways.

A 2010 double-blind trial reported reduced serum levels of COX-2 enzymes and other inflammatory biomarkers in subjects given andrographis extract daily for 84 days. Participants also subjectively reported better quality of life.

Thanks to this soothing effect on hot, irritated tissues, supplementing with andrographis may help maintain comfortable breathing and histamine balance.

Cardiovascular Effects

Early research hints that andrographis’ anti-inflammatory action may support healthy circulation and blood flow. Compounds in the herb may facilitate blood vessel dilation while protecting delicate endothelial tissues.

One double-blind placebo study found that subjects with mild endothelial dysfunction enjoyed significant improvement in flow-mediated dilation after taking 1,200mg andrographis extract daily. Researchers concluded that the herb’s antioxidant properties supported vascular health.

Andrographis for Liver Health

Traditional medical systems like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine use bitter herbs like andrographis to support healthy bile flow and digestive function. Andrographis is said to have a ‘cooling’ action on the liver meridians.

Modern research backs this traditional use. Rat studies find that andrographis supplementation protects liver cells against toxin exposure while increasing levels of beneficial glutathione enzymes. Early trials also report improved liver enzyme levels in human subjects taking andrographis.

More research is needed, but these preliminary findings suggest andrographis may protect the liver against threats while enhancing detoxification processes.

Further Potential Benefits

May promote healthy neurological function. Early cell studies report that andrographolide from andrographis paniculata demonstrated neuroprotective properties and improved cognitive function in animal models. One study found improved recall memory and mood in human subjects as well.

Traditional digestive tonic. Bitters like andrographis promote healthy digestion by stimulating bile and enzyme secretions. Andrographis may soothe GI discomfort while supporting efficient nutrient absorption.

Promising antimicrobial properties. Test tube research demonstrates broad-spectrum antimicrobial action against certain bacteria, fungi, intestinal worms, and even malaria. This could support immune resistance.

Much more research is needed to confirm many of andrographis’ traditional uses. However, the existing studies clearly demonstrate that andrographis is a valuable herbal ingredient with a wide range of potential benefits.

Is Andrographis Safe?

According to documented use of andrographis extract over decades, the herb appears to have a low level of toxicity when used orally in appropriate amounts. There are very few reported adverse events.

Thus far, human trials using standardized extracts of Andrographis paniculata suggest it has a high level of safety. Most clinical studies have found no serious adverse events even with months of continuous use.

Minor side effects occasionally reported include dizziness, headache, upset stomach or diarrhoea when taken in large amounts. There is also some evidence that andrographis may be contraindicated in patients taking blood pressure and blood sugar-lowering medication.

As with any supplement, it is always advisable to consult your healthcare provider before taking andrographis, especially if pregnant, nursing, or being treated for other health conditions.

Andrographis Dosage Recommendations

There are currently no standardized dosage guidelines for andrographis. However, most clinical studies showing beneficial effects use between 400-1,200 milligrams of standardised andrographis extract daily.

Andrographis supplements should be standardised to 10-30% andrographolides content. This is the compound linked to its beneficial bioactivity.

Be sure to follow individual product dosing instructions and consult an integrative health practitioner or herbalist for personalised dosage guidance.

Purchasing High Quality Andrographis

If purchasing andrographis supplements in Australia, try to obtain products with references showing standardisation to 10-30% andrographolides. Reputable products will have independent lab testing for purity and potency.

The serving dosage, extraction method, supplement facts, and safety warnings should also all be clearly labelled so that you can make an informed purchasing decision.

Frequently Asked Questions about Andrographis

1. Is andrographis an immune booster?

Yes, andrographis acts as an immune booster thanks to its andrographolides content. These bitter compounds boost white blood cell production and activity, enhancing immune defenses against challenges.

2. Does andrographis actually work for colds?

Multiple clinical studies demonstrate andrographis’ ability to minimize common cold symptoms when supplementation begins in the early stages. Its immune effects may shorten duration while easing discomfort.

3. Can I take andrographis long term?

Thus far, available safety studies report minimal side effects even with daily use for up to six months. However, cycling intermittent breaks is recommended for any regular supplement. As always, consult your healthcare provider before long-term use.

4. When should I take andrographis during the day?

Most studies split doses morning and evening for optimal absorption. However, you can tailor timing to your individual needs and sensitivities. Consider routine testing to optimize your dose timing.

5. Can I take andrographis if I’m on medication?

It depends; andrographis may interact with certain medications like blood thinners, hypertension drugs, diabetes drugs, thyroid hormones, and others. Check with your prescribing doctor and pharmacist before using.

6. Are there any negative side effects of andrographis?

When used appropriately by healthy adults, side effects are rare but can include headaches, dizziness, upset digestion, or rashes in sensitive individuals. Discontinue use if any discomfort occurs.

7. Is Andrographis safe during pregnancy?

There is insufficient research data to establish safety guidelines for andrographis consumption during pregnancy at this time. It is best avoided as a precaution.

8. Can children take andrographis?

Most products state 18+ or consult physician for use below age 18. Dosing guidelines have not yet been established for children. Follow pediatrician guidance before giving to minors.

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