Andrographis is a shrub originating in the Far East and is reputed for its ability to simulate the immune system in a manner similar to echinacea. Matter of fact, some dub it”Indian echinacea.” Historically, it was major part of Ayurvedic medicine in India, used for centuries to treat infectious diseases — malaria, syphilis, dysentery and the flu, for example. Its traditional use spread well beyond the borders of India into Chinese and Thai herbal medicines as well. Most commonly, it was used to treat digestive problems of any type, including intestinal parasites. Its claim to modern fame was that, in India, many experts credited andrographis with saving lives during the 1919 flu pandemic, and helping slow the virus’ progress.
Andrographis is thought to shorten the flu and reduce the severity of its symptoms. Compared to placebo, time and time again, this herb has led to significant improvements in symptoms — particularly fatigue, sore muscles, headache, and runny nose. In modern herbal medicine, the leaves and flowers of andrographis are used. In a slew of recent studies, researchers have found that the herb successfully reduced symptoms of the common cold — symptoms that influenza shares.
In the early 1990s, a double-blind study took 152 adults and compared andrographis to a popular painkiller for treatment of sore throat and fever. Doses of an amazing six grams a day reduced those two symptoms as effectively as the drug did with no side effects to report. And a recent study decided to look at all the past research into andrographis: it found that all the data out there suggests that the herb is far superior to placebo in reducing the symptoms of “uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infections.” This study found it to be safe and effective.
The active ingredients of the herb, called “andrographolides,” are thought to be the main reason it could help with your flu. These ingredients are thought to stimulate the immune system into responding to a threat that is already present. Andrographis succeeds in waking up your immune cells that attack any foreign invaders it sees, and also other cells that fight invaders that your immune system has encountered in the past. This is all theory at best. Andrographis could strength the immune system or, as described above, stimulate it. Or it may just act as an antiviral and attack the flu virus. In any event, the standardized extracts used contain the aforementioned andrographolides.
You may have a tough time finding this herb, as it has only recently grown in popularity. Keep looking though, for it is promising and a nearby health store is bound to have some. As for safety, no major side effects have been seen in clinical study. Still, since focused safety examinations have yet to be performed, it is unwise for a pregnant women, children, or people with liver or kidney disease to take andrographis.