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Andrographis under the scientific spotlight for immune support

Wednesday December 29, 2021
Andrographis under the scientific spotlight for immune support

Andrographis joins the growing number of traditionally used plants which continue to be a source of interest for scientists. The fascinating herb has a long history of use in Asia for a wide range of conditions such as colds, fevers, and detoxification. We explore the research behind the botanical.


  • Studies have shown Andrographis can reduce the duration and severity of symptoms such coughs and sore throats associated with respiratory infections.
  • Andrographis is abundant in compounds called andrographolides, which is thought to exhibit anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties.
  • Despite its rich history of use in Ayurveda health, it’s only since early 1900s that Andrographis has captured the attention of researchers in clinical trials.

  • What is Andrographis?

    Andrographis is an herbaceous plant, Latin name Andrographis paniculata, and native to India and Sri Lanka. It has a long history of traditional medicinal use in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine and it is nicknamed the ‘King of Bitters’. Its primary bioactive is the single diterpene alkaloid, Andrographolide.

    This lesser-known herb Andrographis consistently produces valuable results in research. To investigate its wide use throughout Ayurveda, literature published in 1951 by the School of Tropical Sciences, India, documented a systematic investigation conducted in 1911 which identified Andrographolide, the primary bioactive. Since then, interest has been fuelled by the increase in antibiotic resistant infections in public healthcare and the requirement for alternative treatments to reduce microbial sensitivity to antibiotic medication. The effect of Andrographis on the common cold became topical in the early 90s and more recently a volume of investigations have focused on complex viral infections.

    What are the health benefits?

    Andrographis has been studied as potential effective treatment for respiratory infections, such as the common cold and influenza which has resulted in a reduced duration and severity of symptoms. In addition, it has been shown to offer relief of sore throats and fever. Interestingly, it is thought that the benefits may last for 3-6 months after cessation of supplementation.

    Moreover, in Ayurveda it is used to support detoxification, digestion and immunity. Likewise in Chinese medicine it is used to dry dampness and clear heat in the lungs and in digestion.

    Andrographis in bloom

    Photo caption: Andrographis paniculata is native to India and Sri Lanka

    What has the research shown?

    There are two important studies that highlight the efficacy of Andrographis in respiratory infections.

    The first compared Andrographis to a placebo. A total of 158 adults were given either 1200mg daily of Andrographis or placebo for 5 days during a common cold infection. The participants were assessed for cold symptom severity at 0, 2 and 4 days into the study.


    On day 2 of the study a significant decrease in the intensity of tiredness, sleeplessness, sore throat and nasal discharge was reported. And at day 4 a significant decrease was observed in the severity of all cold symptoms, interestingly the greatest improvements were for sore throat, nasal discharge and earache. These findings suggest that Andrographis taken at the beginning of a cold may improve symptoms as early as the second day and overall improvements by the fourth day of infection.

    The second study investigated findings from a group of published studies to capture an overall effect for Andrographis. The scientists analysed the results studies from 33 randomly controlled trials which included 7,175 participants.


    The results indicated that Andrographis supplementation during a viral infection improved and reduced the duration of symptoms such as, cough, sore throat and consequently the time to full health. Additionally, Andrographis was shown to be safe to use along usual viral infection treatment. These results show that Andrographis supplementation during a viral infection with or without over-the-counter preparations may be beneficial to reducing the severity of certain symptoms and reduce the longevity of the infection.

    The mechanisms by which Andrographis supports immunity are thought to be via antioxidant activity, inhibiting the inflammatory signalling agents to produce an anti-inflammatory effect and by the enhancement of immune cells that initially fight infections plus the stimulation of white blood cells.


    Overall, Andrographis’ interaction with the immune system to reduce the longevity and severity of a respiratory infection is championed by several peer reviewed publications. The effect is suggested to be a result of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune priming activity.

    Andrographis is an extremely bitter tasting herb and so eating the herb in a meal may not be a tolerable option. Subsequently, if you are considering a food supplement look for a water and alcohol Andrographis extract as opposed to chemical extraction. Andrographis would partner with zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D for full spectrum immune support.

    For optimum care, look for high quality food supplements which provide 100% nutrition and are free from additives, sugar and bulking or flow agents.


    To discuss your personal food supplement requirements, contact your nearest local health stores by visiting

    Author: Jenny Carson is a Nutritional Practitioner and Technical Services Manager at Viridian Nutrition. She holds a BSc honours degree in Nutritional Science and is a Master of Research (MRes) in Public Health.


    Cáceres DD, Hancke JL, Burgos RA, Sandberg F, Wikman GK. 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 Oct;6(4):217-23.

    Caceres, D.D., Hancke, J.L., Burgos, R.A. and Wikman, G.K., 1997. Prevention of common colds with Andrographis paniculata dried extract. A pilot double blind trial.?Phytomedicine,?4(2), pp.101-104.

    Hu, X. Y., Wu, R. H., Logue, M., Blondel, C., Lai, L., Stuart, B., Flower, A., Fei, Y. T., Moore, M., Shepherd, J., Liu, J. P., & Lewith, G. (2017). Andrographis paniculata (Chuan Xin Lián) for symptomatic relief of acute respiratory tract infections in adults and children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS one, 12(8), e0181780.

    Poolsup N, Suthisisang C, Prathanturarug S, Asawamekin A, Chanchareon U. 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.

    The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.


TAGS: NewsAndrographis, Winter, Cold


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