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andrographis

Andrographis paniculata

Part Used: Whole flowering herb

Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) is a shrub in the Acantaceae family, found throughout India and other Asian countries that is sometimes called "Indian echinacea." It has been used historically in epidemics, including the Indian flu epidemic in 1919 during which Andrographis was credited with stopping the spread of the disease. Over the last decade, a proprietary extract of Andrographis has become popular in Scandinavia as a treatment for colds. Evidences show that Andrographis extract can reduce the severity of cold symptoms. It may also help prevent colds. It might also stimulate immunity, potentially making it useful for general immune support.

Preliminary studies in animals suggest that Andrographis may offer benefits for preventing heart disease. In addition, highly preliminary studies suggest that Andrographis may help protect the liver from toxic injury, perhaps more successfully than the more famous liver-protective herb milk thistle. It also appears to stimulate gallbladder contraction. Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that Andrographis affects the large intestine, lung, stomach, bladder, and liver meridians, or energy pathways in the body. It is thought to dispel heat (such as that associated with fever or infection) and is used primarily as a broad-spectrum antibiotic and immunostimulant for a variety of bacterial, viral, and parasitic conditions, including influenza, intestinal infections, hepatitis, pneumonia, and infected wounds.

Andrographis is considered most effective for conditions associated with fever, inflammation, and the formation of pus. It clears heat and relieves "fire toxicity" manifest as sores and carbuncles on the skin. Andrographis's medicinal properties are considered very bitter, astringent, cold, dry, and stimulating. Gastric distress and loss of appetite have been noted when the herb is taken in large doses.

References:
Answers.Com. http://www.answers.com/topic/andrographis?cat=health
http://healthlibrary.epnet.com/GetContent.aspx?token=e0498803-7f62-4563-8d47-5fe33da65dd4&chunkiid=21485

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