Asian herb andrographis seems to be effective at boosting immunity and warding off cold & flu infections.
Andrographis is an Asian medicinal herb with a long history of use. It may help support immune system function through:
- Immunostimulatory activities. Andrographis boosts immune system activity.
- Antiviral and antibacterial protection. Andrographis has been shown to fight off bacterial and viral infections, including the cold and flu.
Andrographis paniculata, also known as kalmegh in Ayurvedic medicine, is a flowering plant native to India and Sri Lanka. The leaves and stems of andrographis have been used in traditional Asian medicine for centuries. Some of its traditional uses include helping with diabetes, dysentery, flu & cold infections, bronchitis, and digestive issues.
Clinical research confirms that andrographis has a number of beneficial properties, including anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and immunostimulatory activities. Today andrographis is particularly popular in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries for fighting off cold & flu infections.
How Andrographis Might Help With Immunity
The precise mechanisms behind the immunity benefits of andrographis are not yet known. However, researchers propose several effects:<
Andrographis has been shown to stimulate the immune system, resulting in effects such as: 1
- Increased macrophage & natural killer cell activity
- Enhanced production of antigens to counter harmful microbes
- Improved phagocytosis
Andrographolide, the main active ingredient of andrographis, has been shown to disrupt viruses by interfering with their replication. 2<
Andrographis Uses & Benefits for Immunity
Andrographis supplements are used to support overall immune function, which includes fighting off colds, influenza, and other acute respiratory infections. There is significant amount of research evidence to back these uses, so much so that andrographis extracts have become a common method for protecting against cold and flu infections in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. 3
Animal & Petri Dish Research
Animal and cell culture studies demonstrate that andrographis may possess:
- Antiviral properties. Andrographis has been shown to fight off multiple viruses, including those that cause colds and herpes (type 1). 6
- Antimicrobial properties. Cell culture studies demonstrate that andrographis has potent antibacterial and antifungal activity that is comparable to antibiotics.7
- Anti-inflammatory activity. Andrographis was able to inhibit induced inflammation in mice. 8
Clinical trials of andrographis as an immunity booster report overwhelmingly positive results.
This randomized, double blind placebo study tested the use of andrographis extract for cold infections. A total of 158 adults suffering from a cold were given placebo or Andrographis extract (1200 mg) daily for 5 days. The andrographis treatment significantly improved all cold symptoms compared to placebo.
- The researchers concluded that “…Andrographis paniculata had a high degree of effectiveness in reducing the prevalence and intensity of the symptoms in uncomplicated common cold…”9
This randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study tested the anti-inflammatory and autoimmunity benefits of andrographis. Sixty people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were given placebo or Andrographis extract daily for 14 weeks. The treated group saw a decrease in joint pain, tender joints, number of swollen joints, and other related parameters.
- The researchers concluded that “A. paniculata could be a useful “natural complement” in the treatment of AR…“10
This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study tested the use of andrographis for upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). Two hundred and twenty-three people with URTIs were given placebo or an Andrographis extract (KalmCold, 200 mg) daily for 5 days. The extract treatment resulted in a significantly better improvement of symptoms, and was deemed 2.1 times as effective as placebo.
- The researchers concluded that “…KalmCold was effective in reducing symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection.”11
This randomized, double-blind study examined the use of andrographis for pharyngotonsillitis, a throat infection. One hundred and fifty-two adults with the condition were given a standard medication (paracetamol) or 3 g or 6 g Andrographis paniculata daily for a week. The high dose (6 g) group had similar relief of fever and sore throat as the paracetamol group.
- The researchers concluded that “The efficacy of paracetamol or high dose Andrographis paniculata was significantly more than that of low dose Andrographis paniculata at day 3 in terms of the relief of fever and sore throat. The clinical effects were not different at day 7.”12
This double blind, placebo-controlled study analyzed the use of andrographis for acute upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). A total of 185 people were given placebo or andrographis extract (Kan Jang) for 5 days. The andrographis group saw significant improvement of URTI symptoms, including headaches, temperature, cough, muscle aches, throat, eye, and nasal issues.
- The researchers concluded that “…Kan Jang has a positive effect in the treatment of acute upper respiratory tract infections and also relieves the inflammatory symptoms of sinusitis.”13
Andrographis is a highly recommended immunity supplement. Research and a long history of use have proven andrographis to be highly effective for helping with seasonal cold and flu infections, which is the main reason most people take immune system boosters.
Given the lack of research recommendations, it’s best to follow supplement dosages. Most supplements recommend doses of 300 – 400 mg taken twice daily.
- Jarukamjorn K and Nemoto N. Pharmacological Aspects of Andrographis paniculata on Health and Its Major Diterpenoid Constituent Andrographolide. Journal of health science. Aug 2008;54(4):370-381. ↩
- Seubsasana S et al. A potential andrographolide analogue against the replication of herpes simplex virus type 1 in vero cells. Med Chem. 2011 May;7(3):237-44. ↩
- Coon JT and Ernst E. Andrographis paniculata in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review of safety and efficacy. Planta Med. 2004 Apr;70(4):293-8. ↩
- Tang T et al. Randomised clinical trial: herbal extract HMPL-004 in active ulcerative colitis – a double-blind comparison with sustained release mesalazine. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Jan;33(2):194-202. ↩
- Sandborn WJ et al. Andrographis paniculata extract (HMPL-004) for active ulcerative colitis. Am J Gastroenterol. 2013 Jan;108(1):90-8. ↩
- Wiart C et al. Antiviral properties of ent-labdene diterpenes of Andrographis paniculata nees, inhibitors of herpes simplex virus type 1. Phytother Res. 2005 Dec;19(12):1069-70. ↩
- Singha PK et al. Antimicrobial activity of Andrographis paniculata. Fitoterapia. 2003 Dec;74(7-8):692-4. ↩
- Sheeja K et al. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of the plant Andrographis paniculata Nees. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2006;28(1):129-40. ↩
- Cáceres DD et al. Use of visual analogue scale measurements (VAS) to asses 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. ↩
- Burgos RA et al. Efficacy of an Andrographis paniculata composition for the relief of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms: a prospective randomized placebo-controlled trial. Clin Rheumatol. 2009 Aug;28(8):931-46. ↩
- Saxena RC et al. A randomized double blind placebo controlled clinical evaluation of extract of Andrographis paniculata (KalmCold) in patients with uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infection. Phytomedicine. 2010 Mar;17(3-4):178-85. ↩
- Thamlikitkul V et al. Efficacy of Andrographis paniculata, Nees for pharyngotonsillitis in adults. J Med Assoc Thai. 1991 Oct;74(10):437-42. ↩
- Gabrielian ES et al. A double blind, placebo-controlled study of Andrographis paniculata fixed combination Kan Jang in the treatment of acute upper respiratory tract infections including sinusitis. Phytomedicine. 2002 Oct;9(7):589-97. ↩