Andrographis paniculata is a herbaceous plant in the family Acanthaceae, native to India and Sri Lanka.

It is widely cultivated in southern Asia, where it is used to treat infections and some diseases, often being used before antibiotics were created. Mostly the leaves and roots were used for medicinal purposes.

Medicinal use

Since ancient times, A. paniculata is used in traditional Siddha and Ayurvedic[3] systems of medicine as well as in tribal medicine in India and some other countries for multiple clinical applications. The therapeutic value of Kalmegh is due to its mechanism of action which is perhaps by enzyme induction. The plant extract exhibits antityphoid and antifungal activities. Kalmegh is also reported[citation needed] to possess antihepatotoxic, antibiotic, antimalarial, antihepatitic, antithrombogenic, antiinflammatory,[4] anti-snake venom, and antipyretic properties to mention a few, besides its general use as an immunostimulant agent.[5] A study conducted at Bastyr University, showed a significant rise in the mean CD4 lymphocyte level of HIV subjects after administration of 10 mg/kg andrographolide.[6]

Andrographolide, the chief constituent extracted from the leaves of the plant, is a bitter water-soluble lactone exhibiting protective effects in carbon tetrachloride induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Its LD50 in male mice was 11.46gm/kg, ip. This bitter principle was isolated in pure form by Gorter (1911). Such other activities as liver protection under various experimental conditions of treatment with galactosamine, paracetamol etc. are also attributed to Andrographolide. The hepatoprotective action of andrographolide is related to activity of certain metabolic enzymes.[citation needed]

Andrographis paniculata plant extract is known to possess a variety of pharmacological activities. Andrographolide, the major constituent of the extract, is implicated in its pharmacological activity. A study has been conducted on the cellular processes and targets modulated by andrographolide treatment in human cancer and immune cells. Andrographolide treatment inhibited the in vitro proliferation of different tumor cell lines, representing various types of cancers. The compound exerts direct anticancer activity on cancer cells by cell cycle arrest at G0/G1 phase through induction of cell cycle inhibitory protein p27 and decreased expression of cyclin dependent kinase 4 (CDK4)[citation needed]. Immunostimulatory activity of andrographolide is evidenced by increased proliferation of lymphocytes and production of interleukin 2. Andrographolide also enhanced the tumor necrosis factor α production and CD marker expression, resulting in increased cytotoxic activity of lymphocytes against cancer cells, which may contribute for its indirect anticancer activity. The in vivo anticancer activity of the compound is further substantiated against B16F0 melanoma syngenic and HT 29 xenograft models. These results suggest that andrographolide is an interesting pharmacophore with anticancer and immunomodulatory activities and hence has the potential for being developed as a cancer therapeutic agent.[citation needed]

In one Chilean study, the herb had a significant drying effect on the nasal secretions of cold sufferers who took 1,200 milligrams of andrographis extract daily for five days.[7] A systematic review of the literature and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials also suggested the herb alone or in combination with eleuthero may be an appropriate alternative treatment of uncomplicated acute upper respiratory tract infection.[8],[9]

The herb is the well-known drug Kalmegh ‘green chiretta’, and forms the principal ingredient of a household medicine (‘alui’), used as a bitter tonic and febrifuge.[citation needed]

The Tamils have been using Nilavempu – as it is called in Tamil – for centuries. In Siddha medicine, Andrographis Paniculata is used widely to treat fevers like chikenguinea, swine-flu, typhoid etc.[10][unreliable source?]

A recent(2011)randomised, double-blind, multicentre,study found Andrographis paniculata as effective as mesalazine (mesalamine) in ulcerative colitis.[11] Further,Andrographolide could be developed as a therapeutic agent to treat both androgen-stimulated and castration-resistant prostate cancer [12]

{Information courtesy Wikipedia}