Herbs & Botanicals
Andrographis (chuan xin lian)
What is andrographis? What is it used for?
Andrographis is a tall, flowering plant that originated in India, but is now grown in China as well. It consists of a long, thin stem, from which protrude green, oval-shaped leaves and smaller branches containing small white flowers. The major ingredients in andrographis are compounds known as andrographolides, which are believed to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. The leaves and flowers are used medicinally.
Andrographis has had a long history of use in both traditional Chinese medicine and ayurvedic medicine. Most commonly, it has been used for digestive problems and various infections. Several trials published in the mid- and late-1990s found that andrographis, either alone or with Siberian ginseng, could reduce the severity of symptoms in people suffering from the common cold. There is also anecdotal evidence that andrographis can benefit people suffering from viral hepatitis.
How much andrographis should I take?
The amount of andrographis to be taken depends on the form being used and the condition(s) being treated. For dried andrographis, 500-3,000 milligrams can be taken three times per day. An extract (standardized to 11.2 mg andrographolides per 200 mg of extract) can also be consumed, or andgrophis can be drunk as a tea (using one teaspoon of herb for every cup of hot water).
What forms of andrographis are available?
Andrographis is available as a dried herb, powder or extract. Dried herb can also be used to make an andrographis tea.
What can happen if I take too much andrographis? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?
The American Herbal Products Association has given andrographis a class 2B rating, meaning that it should not be taken by pregnant women. In addition, it should not be used by women who are breastfeeding. Some people have been known to develop an upset stomach when taking andrographis. If this happens, patients are advised to reduce the amount taken, or eat it with meals.
As of this writing, there are no well-known drug interactions with andrographis. As always, make sure to speak with a licensed, qualified health care provider before taking andrographis or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.
- Bensky D, Gamble A, Kaptchuk T. Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, revised edition. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993, p. 95.
- Bone K. the story of andrographis paniculata, a new "immune system" herb. Nutrition & Healing September 1998;3,4,8,9.
- Caceres DD, Hancke JL, Burgos RA, et al. use of visual analogue scale measurements (VAS) to assess the effectiveness of standardized andrographis paniculata extract SHA-10 in reducing the symptoms of common cold. A randomized double blind-placebo study. Phytomedicine 1999;6:217-23.
- McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R (eds.) American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, p. 9.
- Melchior J, Spasov AA, Ostrovskij OV, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot and phase III study of activity of standardized andrographis paniculata herba ness extract fixed combination (kan jang) in the treatment of uncomplicated upper-respiratory tract infection. Phytomedicine 2000;7:341-350.