KING OF BITTERS
= JUSTICIA PANICULATA
Andrographis paniculata (= Justicia paniculata) is an acanthaceae, native to the Indo-Malayan region, where it is considered a medicinal plant of primary importance.
Acanthaceae are quite rare in temperate regions and more frequent in warm regions, and several thousand species are described.
In Europe we know the acanthus (Acanthus mollis) with large leaves, often represented in ancient sculptures and present as a decorative perennial (for its white flowers and foliage) in many gardens in southern France.
Decorative tropical acanthaceae (flowers and foliage) are mostly Thunbergia or Justicia species.
Andrographis paniculata has slightly winged, grooved quadrangular stems with lanceolate leaves 5 to 8 cm long and 2 to 3 cm wide, the flowers have petals stained with purple , the fruits are capsules of about 1 to 3 cm long with small yellow or brown seeds.
Andrographis paniculata, "king of bitters", has many local names in all Asiatic languages.
Stems and leaves are the medicinal parts.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
Andrographis paniculata is a traditional medicinal plant of the Indo-Malayan region, long known by Ayurvedic doctors, and by English doctors since their "conquest" of India.
In Asia, it has been the subject of pharmacological and clinical research for a few decades
ANDROGRAPHOLIDES: MAIN COMPONENTS OF ANDROGRAPHIS PANICULATA
Andrographis paniculata is a particularly bitter plant, this bitterness is linked to the presence of diterpenic lactones (chemical substance built by the plant from 4 isoprene units and having an internal cycle provided by oxygen).
These bitter substances are characteristic of the plant: ANDROGRAPHOLIDE and very close molecules (examples: deoxyandrographolide, neoandrographolide)
These molecules have been recently studied especially in Asia they are:
- ANTI-INFLAMMATORY and very effective for trapping free radicals.
Many of their pharmacological properties are related to this ability to neutralize highly reactive chemical radicals that damage or destroy cells.
- ANTI-MICROBIAL AND ANTI-VIRAL, useful for fighting respiratory infections like influenza, bronchitis.
- Useful AGAINST ACUTE DIARRHEA (collibacillosis), some therapists have tried to reduce the symptoms of ulcerative colitis (chronic disorder of the colon and rectum).
- STRENGTHENING THE IMMUNE DEFENSE. The anti-infective power of Andrographis paniculata is probably the consequence of an increase in the defenses of the body rather than an action on the agents of the infection.
- ANTI-DIABETIC (type 2), studies mainly carried out on the animal.
- PREVENTION OF CANCEROUS DEGENERATION or slowing of cancer development (possibly through an anti-angiogenic effect): notably prostate cancer, colon cancer, and bronchopulmonary cancer.
- PROTECTION OF LIVER CELLS: in case of chemical or viral aggression, hepatitis, cirrhosis.
- Andrographolide and some closely related compounds (Dehydroandrographolide) are studied and tested in China to fight against some cancers difficult to treat like glioma (cancer of the brain).
FLAVONOIDS AND POLYPHENOLS OF ANDROGRAPHIS PANICULATA
These common compounds in plants are also good free radical scavengers and therefore protect the tissues.
In Andrographis paniculata, the association with "andrographolides" are interesting:
- to control blood lipid disorders: hyper-cholesterolemia, dyslipidemia, imbalance between HDL and LDL-related cholesterol,
- and to decrease the tissue intolerance to insulin responsible for the aggravation of type 2 diabetes (antidiabetic effect).
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF VIRAL AND BACTERIAL INFECTIONS
- "Influenza" or more generally respiratory virus infections (common cold), viral angina, bronchitis, but also tropical arboviruses (dengue, chikungunya).
- Infections of the lower urinary tract (cystitis, urethritis),
- Intestinal infections : diarrhea and colitis, dysentery (in Asia)..
- Dry plant : usually 1 to 3 g of Andrographis paniculata powder 3 times a day, but 9 g of dry plant powder twice a day in case of acute intestinal infection (in absence of an efficient antibiotic) .
- Standardized extract in andrographolide , the percentage varies according to the preparations (from 4 to 6% and up to 45%).
Daily doses vary according to the percentage of active product.
Example: 400mg of extract at 4 or 6% 3 times a day for a common cold, and twice this dose for a more serious infection.
For a 30 to 40% extract of andrographolide, 150 to 200 mg per day.
- The decoction of andrographis is sometimes recommended in Asia but given the strong bitterness of this plant, I do not recommend it, as well as the alcoholic tincture.
STRENGTHENING IMMUNE DEFENSE (INFECTIONS, CANCERS)
Cure 2 to 3 weeks every 2 months or at the beginning of the winter at the rate of 1 to 2g of powder of andrographis paniculata per day or 400 mg of extract to 4-6% 1 to 2 times per day.
DIABETES moderate type 2, viral HEPATITIS or beginning of cirrhotic process
- SNAKE BITES : In India and the Indo-Malayan region, extracts of Andrographis paniculata are used in cases of snakebite often in combination with a polyvalent antivenom.
- MALARIA : Its bitterness (reminiscent of quinine or neem) may be at the origin of its use as an antimalarial (some studies confirm this possibility).
- DENGUE AND CHIKUNGUNYA : Recently important epidemics of dengue and chikungunya have developed in the Indo-Malayan region.
At present there is no really efficient treatment or preventive vaccination so patients and doctors tried alternative treatments, some with success, in particular with extracts of papaya leaf but also of Andrographis paniculata.
- AYURVEDIC MEDICINE : It is an important medicinal plant in Ayurvedic medicine.
- ANIMAL FOOD : A Malaysian study on the effects of a dietary supplement of andrographis powder at 1.5% of the feed intake on goat reared for meat shows that meat is of better quality than animal is heavier and the meat / fat ratio is improved. These effects are attributed to better digestion of plants, an effect similar to that obtained with antibiotics but without the disadvantages of the latter.
PRECAUTIONSSome (rare) persons are allergic to Andrographis paniculata or these extracts.
WHERE TO FIND ANDROGRAPHIS PANICULATA?Andrographis paniculata is a plant that can be common in countries where it has been introduced, and where it is quite easy to get the plant fresh or dry.
CULTIVATION OF ANDROGRAPHIS PANICULATA, "KING OF BITTERS"
It is a very easy plant to cultivate in hot countries as an annual plant, it adapts to almost all soils (including dry land with irrigation), it is very little susceptible to pests and is not grazed by the herbivores (save hungry goats !!).
It is an important medicinal plant that has been introduced in many tropical countries sometimes inadvertently sometimes as a decorative plant but to which one should be much more interested, it treats very common diseases, strengthens immunity and is welle tolerated at doses indicated on this page.
The propagation is done by the seeds, the leaves are collected before flowering.
In India, they are experimenting with cultivation techniques that allow for a higher concentration of andrographolides by putting the plant under osmotic stress: cultivation on slightly salty soil, or irrigation with saline water.
MEDICINAL PLANTS COUSINS OF ANDROGRAPHIS PANICULATA
- Justicia pectoralis, which is part of the French pharmacopoeia, better known in the Caribbean as "herbe à charpentier", useful for healing wounds, but also to calm, soothe.
- Justicia gendarussa, an Asian plant, mainly used in the Indonesian region, which has a male contraceptive effect (preventing fertilization but without affecting male sexuality) ..
A MEDICINAL PLANT FROM ASIA AGAINST INFECTIONS AND TO STRENGTHEN IMMUNITY
Andrographis paniculata is native to Asia, it strengthens the immunity and the defenses of the body, helps mitigate the effects of viral infections such as colds, flu but also dengue fever.
It has an antidiabetic effect and regulates blood lipids. Recent research has discovered anti-cancer molecules.
It is a very bitter plant, used for a long time by traditional Asian healers.
It is easily grown in all hot countries.
Copyright 2019 : Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel