It is widely cultivated in Southern and Southeastern Asia, where it has been traditionally used to treat infections and some diseases. Mostly the leaves and roots were used for medicinal purposes. The whole plant is also used in some cases.
Andrographis paniculata is an erect annual herb extremely bitter in taste in all parts of the plant body. The plant is known in north-eastern India as Maha-tikta, literally "king of bitters", and known by various vernacular names (see the table below). As an Ayurveda herb it is known as Kalmegh or Kalamegha, meaning "dark cloud". It is also known as Nila-Vembu in Tamil, meaning "neem of the ground", since the plant, though being a small annual herb, has a similar strong bitter taste as that of the large Neem tree (Azadirachta indica). In Malaysia, it is known as Hempedu Bumi, which literally means 'bile of earth' since it is one of the most bitter plants that are used in traditional medicine.
It grows erect to a height of 30–110 cm (12–43 in) in moist, shady places. The slender stem is dark green, squared in cross-section with longitudinal furrows and wings along the angles. The lance-shaped leaves have hairless blades measuring up to 8 cm (3.1 in) long by 2.5 cm (0.98 in). The small flowers are borne in spreading racemes. The fruit is a capsule around 2 cm (0.79 in) long and a few millimeters wide. It contains many yellow-brown seeds.
It is distributed in tropical Asian countries, often in isolated patches. It can be found in a variety of habitats, such as plains, hillsides, coastlines, and disturbed and cultivated areas such as roadsides, farms, and wastelands. Native populations of A. paniculata are spread throughout south India and Sri Lanka which perhaps represent the center of origin and diversity of the species. The herb is an introduced species in northern parts of India, Java, Malaysia, Indonesia, the West Indies, and elsewhere in the Americas. The species also occurs in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand, Brunei, Singapore, and other parts of Asia where it may or may not be native. The plant is cultivated in many areas, as well.
Unlike other species of the genus, A. paniculata is of common occurrence in most places in India, including the plains and hilly areas up to 500 m (1,600 ft), which accounts for its wide use.
In India the major source of plant is procured from wild habitat.The plant is in Low Risk or Least Concerned in the IUCN category. Under the trade name Kalmegh Annually on an average 2,000–5,000 tonnes (2,200–5,500 tons) of plant is traded in India.
It does best in a sunny location. The seeds are sown during May and June (northern hemisphere). The seedlings are transplanted at a distance of 60 cm (24 in) x 30 cm (12 in).
A. paniculata has been used in Siddha and Ayurvedic medicine, and is promoted as a dietary supplement for cancer prevention and cure. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has stated that there is no evidence that it helps prevent or cure cancer. Other uses of A. paniculata are linked to its antibacterial and antioxidant properties, largely derived from the one of the active phytochemicals andrographolide. Research shows andrographolide is also anti-inflammatory and modifies the toll-like receptor (TLR) TRIF-dependent pathway which is part of the body's innate immune response to bacterial and viral infection, and it also suppresses NF-κB activation and COX-2 molecules as further illustration of its anti-inflammatory potential.
There is a growth in interest in A. paniculata as it might provide a safe and effective alternative to the prescription of antibiotics, as antimicrobial resistance from the over-prescription of these drugs is a major threat to global public health. In a systematic review that identified and analysed 33 randomised controlled trials of 7175 patients with upper respiratory tract infections, the use of the herb Andrographis reduced the severity of cold and flu symptoms compared to a placebo (4 studies) and was more effective than the patients normal care regimen in other studies (12 studies). Out of 7175 patients identified in this review, there were 7 individual cases of adverse events including constipation or headache, although it must be noted many trials do not report these events at all. In a study of patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis, andrographis extract was as effective and offered a safer treatment option for patients after eight weeks of use compared to standard medication.
Treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis with the active component andrographolide (28 patients) compared to a placebo (30 patients) for 14 weeks saw no significant difference in overall measures of pain intensity (by VAPS, visual analogue pain scale), but there were improvements in the grading of the tenderness of joints and reductions in other biological measures including rheumatoid factor and immunoglobulin A. The authors concluded that A. paniculata could be a "natural complement" for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis but a larger study of longer duration would be a logical next step.
Andrographolide is the major constituent extracted from the leaves of the plant and is a bicyclic diterpenoid lactone. This bitter principle was isolated in pure form by Gorter (1911). Systematic studies on chemistry of A. paniculata have been carried out.
Some known constituents are:
- "14-Deoxy-11-dehydroandrographolide, Plant
- 14-Deoxy-11-oxoandrographolide, ahhiajajaiop.Plant
- 5-Hydroxy-7,8,2',3'-Tetramethoxyflavone, Plant
- 5-Hydroxy-7,8,2'-Trimethoxyflavone, Tissue Culture
- Andrographine, Root
- Andrographolide, Plant
- Neoandrographolide, Plant
- Panicoline, Root
- Paniculide-A, Plant
- Paniculide-B, Plant
- Paniculide-C, Plant"
List of vernacular names of A. paniculata Nees
|Marathi||kadu kirayata, Oli-kiryata|
|Bengali||Kālmegh (কালমেঘ), Chirota (চিরতা)|
|Oriya||ଭୁଇଁ ନିମ୍ବ (Bhuinimba), ଚିରେଇତା (Chireita)|
|Chinese||Chuan Xin Lian (穿心蓮)|
|English||Green chirayta, creat, king of bitters, andrographis, India echinacea|
|Sanskrit||Kālamegha (कालमेघ), Bhūnimba (भूनिम्ब)|
|Tamil||Siriyaa Nangai [சிறியா நங்கை]/ Nila Vembu [நிலவேம்பு]|
|Malayalam||NilavEpp (നിലവേപ്പ്), Kiriyathth (കിരിയത്ത്)|
|Telugu||Nelavemaa (నేలవేము) or Nelavepu meaning "Neem of the ground". "Nela" = ground and "vemaa" = neem.|
|Malay||Hempedu Bumi, Akar Cerita, Pokok Cerita, Empedu Tanah|
|Bahasa Indonesia||Sambiloto, sambiroto|
|Brunei Malay||Daun pahit|
|Tagalog||Aluy, Likha, Sinta, Serpentina|
|Thai||Fa Thalai Chon (ฟ้าทะลายโจร, Thai pronunciation: [fáː.tʰa.lāːj.tɕōːn]), literally meaning 'the heavens strike the thieves'|
|Khmer||Smau pramat manuss (ស្មៅប្រមាត់មនុស្ស), literally meaning 'human gallblader grass', Smau phtuh (ស្មៅផ្ទុះ), literally meaning 'exploding grass'|
|Lao||La Xa Bee (ລາຊາບີ, Lao pronunciation: [láː.sáː.bìː])|
|Sinhalese||Kiratha (කිරාත), Hīn Kohomba / Heen Kohomba (හීන් කොහොඹ), meaning "small neem", or Hīn Bīm Kohomba / Heen Bim Kohomba(හීන් බිම් කොහොඹ) meaning "small neem of the ground".|
|Vietnamese||Xuyên Tâm Liên|
|Burmese||Say gah gyi, nga yoke gah|
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- Burgos RA, Hancke JL, Bertoglio JC, Aguirre V, Arriagada S, Calvo M, Cáceres DD. "Efficacy of an Andrographis paniculata composition for the relief of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms: a prospective randomized placebo-controlled trial". Clinical Rheumatology. 2009 Aug 1;28(8):931-46.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Andrographis paniculata.|
- Andrographis (www.plantnames.unimelb.edu.au)
- Dr. Duke's Database
- Caldecott, Todd (2006). Ayurveda: The Divine Science of Life. Elsevier/Mosby. ISBN 0-7234-3410-7. Contains a detailed monograph on Andrographis paniculatus (Bhunimba) as well as a discussion of health benefits and usage in clinical practice. Available online at https://web.archive.org/web/20110519163542/http://www.toddcaldecott.com/index.php/herbs/learning-herbs/390-bhunimba
- Akbar, S (2011). "Andrographis paniculata: A review of pharmacological activities and clinical effects" (PDF). Alternative Medicine Review. 16 (1): 66–77. PMID 21438648.
- Andrographis paniculata (Burm. f.) Nees Medicinal Plant Images Database (School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University) (in Chinese) (in English)
- 穿心蓮, Common Andrographis Herb, Chuan Xin Lian Chinese Medicine Specimen Database (School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University) (in Chinese) (in English)
-  Cochrane Library of Systematic Reviews