Andrographis, An Immune Strengthening Herb

Andrographis paniculata is an herb that has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to treat a variety of conditions.(1)  Like other plants that are recognized as having medicinal properties, the efficacy of andrographis may be due to compounds that impart a bitter flavor.  Plants protect themselves from being eaten by animals with bitter taste and this is accomplished by producing phytonutrients that create the bitterness.  These phytonutrients then often have beneficial properties for humans.  Andrographis stimulates the immune system. Meta-analysis indicates that andrographis may be more effective than placebo and may be an appropriate alternative treatment of uncomplicated acute upper respiratory tract infection.(2)

Taking andrographis during flu season for three months may reduce the incidence of the common cold.(3) We recommend Andrographis Plus for these purposes–2 tablets twice per day or after contracting an upper respiratory infection or cold–2 tablets three times per day.

Andrographis has some benefit in lowering blood pressure. It should be noted that Andrographis has some blood thinning properties, and should not be taken if you are already taking blood thinners.  It should also not be taken if you are pregnant or trying to conceive based on some animal studies. Furthermore, andrographis does have an effect on the P450 liver detoxification enzymes, so there can be some herb/drug interactions. In particular, it stimulates the expression of the CYP1A1 and CYP1A2 enzymes, while it inhibits the CYP3A4 and CYP2C9 enzymes.(4)


2. Poolsup NSuthisisang CPrathanturarug S, et al. Andrographis paniculata in the symptomatic treatment of uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infection: systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2004 Feb;29(1):37-45.
3. Cáceres DDHancke JLBurgos RAWikman GK. Prevention of common colds with Andrographis paniculata dried extract. A Pilot double blind trial.  Phytomedicine. 1997 Jun;4(2):101-4.
4. Pekthong DBlanchard NAbadie C, et al. Effects of Andrographis paniculata extract and Andrographolide on hepatic cytochrome P450 mRNA expression and monooxygenase activities after in vivo administration to rats and in vitro in rat and human hepatocyte cultures. Chem Biol Interact. 2009 May 15;179(2-3):247-55.
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