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What is Andrographis?

Andrographis is an annual herb.

Andrographis is short for Andrographis Paniculata(Burm.f.) Nees, an extremely bitter plant in the family Acanthaceae. Andrographis herb is an annual variety with a short growth cycle around 120days, sown in late spring and harvested in early autumn. The more commonly used part of the herb is the dried leaves or the aerial parts.

Andrographis grows brittle, erect, muti-branched stem at a height of 30~120cm, with slightly enlarged nodes, and ovate leaves grow singly opposite with short petioles. Andrographis produces small, white flowers with rose-purple spots on the petals. The flowers are followed by oblong seed capsules containing six to 12 yellow-brown, flat, ovoid seeds. The harvest is before the seeds matured when the stems and leaves are lush. (see picture on the right, Fig1)

The harvested andrographis leaves and stems are generally dried by direct sunlight. The dried leaves are shriveled and fragile with lengths of 3-12 cm and a width of 2-5 cm if flatten them. Both sides of the leaves are smooth, and the colors are green and gray-green on each side separately.

 

Introduction of whole herb andrographis
Fig1:
a Andrographis paniculata herb in pod stage with terminal or axillary panicles. b Young plant: aerial and underground parts of AP. c Fruit of AP in capsule form. d Opened capsule. e Rugose seeds of AP inside the fruit. f flowering plant with a small flower. g A flower with opened anther and pollen grains.

Andrographis is an Asian herb.

The herb andrographis is native to the Indian subcontinent, one of the names in China is Indian Herb besides the name of Bitter Herb got from its bitter taste.

In different countries in Asia, the herb has different vernacular names: China-Chuanxinlian, India-Kalmegh, Chiryata and green chiretta, Thailand-Fah Talai Jone, Malaysia-Hempedu Bumi, Philippine-Serpentina, Japan-Senshiren, Korea- ch’onsimyon etc. There are other special names in China and India.

Commercial plant material is mainly from China and India. In China, nearly 100% of the herb on the market are cultivated, among them, 95% are from Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Anhui, and Sichuan. While in India, herbs on the market are mainly from the wild collections, the crop cultivation is mostly in Madhya Pradesh from the new cultivation project. And to fight covid, there’s bulk cultivation in Thailand, generally in Muak Lek, Saraburi.

Andrographis is a medicinal herb with a long history.

Andrographis is now an extensively used herb in India, it was used as a substitute for the other bitter herb Swertia Chirayita(Chirata) in Ayurveda. Indians use the herb leaves as anti-venom against snake bites since ancient times, and the herb rescued India from the 1919 global flu epidemic, according to references.

There are no accurate records about the first use of Chuanxinlian in China, but the legend of the herb is also related to snake bites. And there are many books about how to use the herb, which shows the herb has a history of medicine for more than 100years.

Traditionally, green chiretta has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including atonic dyspepsia (indigestion caused by impaired stomach muscle tone), bowel conditions in children, diabetes, diarrhea, dysentery, flatulence, gastroenteritis, general debility, loss of appetite, poor liver function (toxic liver damage and liver infections), fever recovery, and respiratory and skin conditions.

As a traditional household remedy, the herb is used as leaf juice, decoction, herb powder, and herb paste for a wide range of conditions in India, China, and other Asian countries.

Andrographis is a relatively extensive studied herb.

Research finds the chemical constituents of the Andrographis Paniculata and their chemical structure, bioavailability, and how to extract them by modern techniques. In clinical trials, the efficacy, and effectiveness of the phytochemicals are evaluated to cure different conditions and disorders.

Diterpenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols are its primary constituents. In terms of bioactive properties and abundance, andrographolide is the most abundant single compound extracted from A. paniculata. 14-deoxy-11,12-didehydroandrographolide is immunostimulatory, anti-infective, and anti-atherosclerotic among the andrographolide analogues. Neoandrographolide is anti-inflammatory, anti-infective, and anti-hepatotoxic. And 14-deoxyandrographolide is immunomodulatory and anti-atherosclerotic. Andrograpanin is both anti-inflammatory and anti-infective,14-deoxy-14,15-dehydroandrographolide is anti-inflammatory, isoandrographolide, 3,19-isopropylideneandrographolide, and 14-acetylandrographolide are tumor suppressive, and arabinogalactan proteins are anti-hepatotoxic. Anti-atherosclerotic flavonoids from A. paniculata include 7-O-methylwogonin, apigenin, onysilin, and 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic acid.

Furthermore, the derivatives of the andrographolide are also developed, studied, and applied for some ailments. For instance, clinical studies of Andrographolide Sulfonate to treat for Tonsillitis and Chronic Bronchitis are ongoing in China.

An herb is developing with the changing society and keeps going to nourish people.

You may find andrographis tonic as it is in traditional use, and now there are tablets, capsules, tinctures, and even injections in the field of dietary supplements, functional foods, and pharmaceuticals, based on andrographis organic powderandrographis extract, and andrographolide derivatives.

The fields of application have been much enlarged in recent times as well. It is a treatment for COVID, hand, foot, and mouth diseases. Andrographis is also a popular additive for animal nutrition. In addition, Andrographis Paniculata Leaf Extract is listed as an astringent and skin-conditioning substance in cosmetic products in Europe.

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