Andrographis, also known as Andrographis paniculate or A. paniculate, is an annual medicinal plant belonging to the Acanthaceae family. It is commonly known as the “king of the bitters.” A. paniculate is native to India and Sri Lanka and can be widely found throughout Southeastern Asia. One of the most well-researched benefits of A. paniculate is its ability to promote of a healthy microbial environment. For centuries, it has been used regularly for the common cold as a part of traditional medicine.
In addition, A. paniculate has been traditionally used to support individuals with respiratory tract infections, chronic and seasonal fevers, cough, skin infections, and more. The active ingredient of A. paniculate is called andrographolide. Extracts are commonly standardized to have 4% to 6% of andrographolide. The use of andrographolide and its derivatives have been shown to promote a healthy inflammatory and immune response, specifically attenuating the production of various downstream inflammatory cytokines, regulating host immunity, and potentially mitigating microbial virulence.
Numerous in vitro studies have demonstrated the anti-microbial properties of A. paniculate, including studies examining its efficacy on pathogens like Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Shigella spp., Salmonella spp., Candida spp., Streptococcus pneumoniae. Furthermore, a systematic review investigated the anti-microbial properties of A. paniculate in 23 human clinical trials (n = 2,760) spanning 13 countries. These randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials demonstrated the clinical benefits of standardized A. paniculate extracts or andrographolide in supporting a healthy microbial environment across a variety of populations.
One clinical study (n = 158) administered 1.2 g per day of dried A. paniculate extract to men and women for 5 days to investigate its efficacy in supporting individuals with common cold symptoms. Compared to the placebo, the individuals receiving the extract had a higher reduction of symptom intensity of tiredness, sleeplessness, sore throat, and nasal secretion starting 2 days after administration. By day 4 in the experimental group, all symptoms disappeared without any adverse effects. In another randomized controlled trial (n = 107), an A. paniculate administration resulted in a 2.1-fold higher prevention rate of the common cold compared to a placebo after 3 months of supplementation.
Various in vitro and in vivo studies have investigated other potential clinical benefits of A. paniculate, such as supporting healthy lipid metabolism, cardiovascular health, or liver health. Although more research is needed, A. paniculate may be a promising tool for supporting a healthy microbial environment, especially during the colder seasons.
By Danielle Moyer, MS, CNS, LDN