The herb known as the andrographis is found growing in the forests and wastelands of Asian countries such as China, India, Pakistan, and Thailand-it is an erect and branched herb mostly seen in the wild. Herbal and medicinal use is made of the harvested leaves and stems. The plants are usually harvested in late summer in most countries. China and Thailand have cultivated this plant extensively and the cultivation of this medicinal herb also occurs to a certain degree in the East and West Indies.
The traditional use of the andrographis has an extensive historical record and this herb is considered an ancient medicinal herb especially because of its continued use down the ages in Asian societies. Disorders such as upper respiratory infections, mild to severe fevers, diseases such as herpes, persistent sore throat, and different chronic disease and a variety of infectious diseases have been treated using this herbal remedy down the centuries in Asia. The prevention and treatment of the common cold is the most common use for this herb in Scandinavian countries. Conclusive studies have also established the effectiveness of this herbal remedy in dealing with the symptoms of cancer, with the symptoms of AIDS, and in the treatment of various bacterial and viral diseases which affects people around the world.
The remedial and beneficial effects of herbal remedies made from the andrographis herb are useful for the treatment of the following specific health problems.
The herbal remedies prepared from the andrographis herb have been successfully used in the treatment of atherosclerosis and heart attack in many different patients. The ability of the andrographis herbal remedy in he prevention of blood clot formation have been shown in many clinical studies conducted in China, in addition, the andrographis remedy also helps prevents the condition known as restenosis, or "re-clogging," of arteries following an angioplasty-these results were observed in many patients under the study. The main property of the herb is in its ability to change the way the inner linings of the blood vessels function, the herb changes the way, tissues respond to incoming calcium; this helps them to stay open for long periods of time-a factor important to the healing process.
The remedies made from andrographis have also been used in the treatment of cancer in patients. Research done on cancer cells indicates that when a cancerous cell is made to mature or differentiate early, it loses the ability to multiply out of control resulting in a tumor. The use of andrographis during recent researches produced favorable results, these observations during the particular study suggests that the andrographis herb possesses very potent cell differentiation inducing properties over leukemia cells. In addition, the extract of cells from the leaves of the andrographis has potent cytotoxic-cell killing-effects against cancer cells and controls the growth of tumors. Reports from the studies conducted by Japanese researchers also shows that the remedies made from the andrographis are capable of stopping stomach cancer cells from multiplying in an uncontrollable rate. Positive results using the herbal remedy have also been seen in the treatment of skin cancer, and in treating prostate and breast cancer cells, and some success has also been observed in the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas in several patients.
The herbal remedies made from the andrographis herb have also been used in treating colds, fevers, and the common flu. The remedies made from the andrographis also aids in preventing various infections caused by rhinoviruses, which are types of viruses largely responsible for and the main agent in bringing on the common cold. The risk of being affected by the common cold was reduced by fifty percent in all patients who took 200 milligrams every day of andrographis preparation-commonly marketed as Kan Jang; these doses were carried out throughout the duration of the cold season when common colds typically tend to affect susceptible individuals. Common disorders such as a runny nose, persistent headache, the development of sore muscles, common sore throat, any swelling in the lymph nodes, and physical fatigue can also be relieved through doses of a herbal remedy made from the andrographis - however, to achieve this beneficial effect, a dose of about 1,200 milligrams or more daily may be required in most patients. Disorders of the intestinal tract have also been treated using the remedies made from the andrographis, the remedy has also been used to successfully reduce fever and pain in patients, beside being used in the treatment of other disorders.
Andrographis remedies have also been used in treating various forms of diarrhea and other forms of intestinal disorders or problems. Studies have shown that the herbal extracts of the andrographis plant shows very significant effects against the forms of diarrhea caused by E. coli bacterial infections of the intestinal tract. The andrographis remedy was used to treat chronic inflammation of the colon in one study; treatment was carried out using a combination of 60 grams of the andrographis extract along with 30 grams of the herbal remedy rehmannia-botanical name-Rehmannia glutinosa. The use of this combination herbal remedy produced a cure rate of about 70 percent in all patients. Symptomatic relief was immediately evident in at least twenty-six percent of those patients experiencing physical symptoms.
Andrographis is also used in the treatment of hepatitis, and related problems in the liver and gallbladder. The flow of bile and the levels of bile acids and bile salts are increased significantly by the primary active ingredient found in the andrographis, a chemical called andrographolide-the chemical has a very effective action on problems related to bile flow in the liver and gallbladder. The potency and curative property of this chemical derived from andrographis was found to be higher than that of another chemical-silymarin, which is the active ingredient found in the milk thistle herb. Silymarin is chemically used as a clinical hepato-protective agent in patients. Gallbladder function is also stimulated by the potent andrographolides which are found in andrographis, theses effectively reduce the probability of gallstone formation within the gallbladder.
Andrographis remedies have also been used in treating the symptoms of HIV/AIDS in patients. There are at least four different ways in which the remedies made from the andrographis herb can counteract the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in people affected by the virus. The ability of the herbal remedy in keeping the virus from attaching itself to healthy T cells was evidenced in several studies carried out at the University of California-this effect was due to the combination of chemicals present in the herb. The total effect is that the T cells are kept from becoming infected by the viral particles present in the blood of the affected individual. HIV infected cells are also affected according to the manufacturers reported studies, according to these studies the HIV virus present in the cells can also be affected by the chemicals in the remedy. Another property of the andrographis herb is its role as a natural protease inhibitor, and this property of andrographis is currently being studied for possible use in treatment of individuals affected by HIV. The presence of certain chemical compounds in the herb makes it harder for HIV virus to take over an essential "control enzyme" present in certain classes of T cells which forces the cells to make copies of the virus and increase the rate of infection. The remedial action of this chemical is therefore quite similar to the action of the common medication used to treat AIDS- zidovudine or Retrovir, or AZT as it is commonly known and marketed. Doctors also report that following the use of andrographis by patients it makes it possible to treat AIDS cases using lower doses of the AZT and this is also beneficial as it produces fewer side effects in the body of the affected individual. An additional, beneficial property of the andrographis is that it keeps the HIV virus from activating the "off-switch" which causes uninfected T cells to die off-this prevents the sudden onrush of other diseases in the defenseless body, an effect so common in people with full blown AIDS. The dose of the herbal remedy in patients also reduces the total viral load in the body, and at the same time, this herb helps maintain the T-cell count within the body of the affected person.
The very low toxicity of the compound andrographolide and other andrographis derived compounds has been confirmed during formal toxicological test carried out on the herbal extracts. Some andrographis users have been known to experience dizziness and heart palpitations, but such instances are rare and specific to the individual. In other individuals, the use of the herbal remedy made from andrographis may produce an allergic reaction, which can range from a minor skin rash to far more serious anaphylaxis in others.
Side effects and cautions
The best way to consume doses of the andrographis herbal remedy is to take the tablet form prepared using the standardized extract of the herb. The prevention and treatment of colds is carried out using the brand Androtech - a form produced by the company BioTherapies, this form of the herb has a combination of andrographis along with the Echinacea herb and the mineral zinc. At the same time, there are also other standardized preparations prepared from the herb which are useful as other herbal applications in the treatment of different disorders. The use of all remedies made from the andrographis must be avoided by pregnant and nursing women because of potential side effects and the herb is known to reduce the fertility of both men and women if used continuously for a long period of time.