Nothing to Be Bitter About
Practitioners of Ayurveda, India’s traditional medicine, built an impressive library of botanical ingredients over millennia. Only now are many popping up on Western radars. Take Andrographis paniculata—“one of the most extensively used plants in traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda and Unani,” says Majeed. English speakers, if they know of it at all, might know it as creat or “the king of bitters,” and its traditional effects run from anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective to diuretic and carminative, Majeed says. “According to India Herbal Pharmacopoeia (1) and World Health Organization monographs (2),” he adds, “this plant is effective in bacterial dysentery, carbuncles, colitis, tuberculosis, malaria, herpes, ulcer and venomous snake bites.” More recent studies suggest utility in managing upper respiratory tract infections (3–4), maintaining healthy blood glucose levels (5), liver health (6), and joint health (7).
1. Handa SS, Indian Herbal Pharmacopoeia, Volume 1 (Mumbai: 1998).
2. “WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants, Volume 2,” World Health Organization, http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/42052/2/9241545372.pdf. Accessed September 15, 2017.
3. Lim JC et al., “Andrographolide and its analogues: versatile bioactive molecules for combating inflammation and cancer,” Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology Physiology, vol. 39, no. 2 (2012): 300–310
4. Gabrielian ES et al., “A double blind, placebo-controlled study of Andrographis paniculata fixed combination Kan Jang in the treatment of acute upper respiratory tract infections including sinusitis,” Phytomedicine, vol. 9, no. 7 (2002): 589–597
5. Agarwal R et al., “Open label clinical trial to study adverse effects and tolerance to dry powder of the aerial part of Andrographis paniculata in patients type 2 with diabetes mellitus,” Journal of Medical Sciences, vol. 12, no. 1 (2005): 13–19
6. Chaturvedi GN et al., “Clinical Studies on Kalmegh (Andrographic paniculata Nees) in infective hepatitis,” Ancient Science of Life, vol. 2, no. 4 (1983): 208–215
7. Burgos RA et al., “Efficacy of an Andrographis paniculata composition for the relief of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms: a prospective randomized placebo-controlled trial.” Clinical Rheumatology, vol. 28, no. 8 (2009): 931–946
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