Andrographis is a flower native to Southeast Asia and is now cultivated in Asia. The flower’s stem is dark green and its petals are white with tongues of purple. The stem and leaves can be ground into a powder that can be used for medicinal purposes.
The medicinal properties of andrographis is said to be the result of the active chemical compound andrographolide. This colorless, crystalline substance is believed to have many potential benefits in modern medicine, but it was traditional Eastern medicine that first recognized the potential of this herb.
Known for centuries as the “king of bitters” in Ayurvedic medicine, Andrographis became prized as a cooling herb that helps to balance the pitta dosha and support the immune system. Recently it has come into Western consciousness as researchers seek to harness the potential benefits of this plant
A Cooling Herb
Traditional Chinese medicine considers andrographis to have bitter and cold properties that support the meridians, or areas, which regulates the heart, lungs, large intestine and urinary bladder. Andrographis is thought to support these systems of the body as a result of its ability to clear heat.
In Ayurvedic philosophy, cooling herbs can play a role in balancing the pitta dosha. Pitta governs the body’s metabolism, digestion, and certain emotions. A balanced pitta will support digestion and healthy-looking skin texture and tone. An unbalanced pitta is said to result in the skin more easily burning in the sun, abdominal discomfort, and negative behaviors such as being too critical. Potential andrographis benefits may be an avenue for someone seeking a balanced pitta.
Support for Liver and GI Tract
In Ayurvedic philosophy, the pitta dosha has five sub-categories that correspond to the brain, eyes, skin, liver, and gastrointestinal (GI) tract . Andrographis is said to support the ranjaka pitta, which governs the liver; while the ranchaka pitta governs the GI tract. Poor nutrition, excessive alcohol intake, hot weather, daily stress, and exposure to environmental toxins may cause an imbalance of ranjaka or panchaka. To help return balance, practitioners may administer andrographis to help regain balance.
Potential andrographis benefits have been shown to keep cells in the liver healthy. Liver cells may be threatened by free radicals that come from external toxins such as alcohol. However, andrographis may provide a “protective effect” in the liver.
Andrographolide has been shown to keep a desired bile flow in the liver. Bile is stored in the gallbladder and is necessary for digestion. An insufficient level of bile flow may lead to vitamin deficiency and other digestive complications.
Support for Normal Immune System Function
Andrographis has been suggested to support the immune system and provide temporary relief from occasional cold symptoms. One study looked at the use of andrographis to provide relief from symptoms associated with the common cold. In the study, researchers found that andrographis may help patients to maintain normal cough frequency and a healthy respiratory system.
A different study found that andrographis helps to maintain a normal number of macrophages in the immune system. Macrophages are white blood cells that patrol the body and help to regulate how the body responds to a foreign substance. Maintaining a normal level of white blood cells may allow the body to not “overreact” to foreign substances.
Andrographis is a cooling herb with a wide array of potential benefits. The herb can provide support for healthy liver and GI tract. An andrographis supplement may be helpful in balancing the pitta dosha. The common cold can strike at any time of year. So try an andrographis supplement today to support your immune system.