Can Andrographis Boost Immune Function?

What Should I Know About It?

cold and flu
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What is Andrographis?

Also known as "Indian echinacea," andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) is an herb long used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. The popular Scandinavian cold remedy Kan Jang contains standardized extracts of both andrographis and Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus). Available in capsule and tincture form, andrographis can be found at most health food stores.

Uses for Andrographis

In alternative medicine, andrographis is often used for the following conditions:

  • colds
  • flu
  • cancer

Andrographis is also said to act as a natural immune-booster.

Health Benefits of Andrographis:

So far, scientific support for the potential benefits of andrographis is limited. Preliminary studies suggest that andrographis may offer some health benefits:

1) Respiratory Infections

In a research review published in 2004, scientists sized up seven clinical trials (with a total of 896 participants) and found that andrographis is superior to placebo in alleviating symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.

2) Flu

Kan Jang may help reduce the severity and duration of the flu, according to a 2003 study. When compared to 469 patients using the conventional antiviral medication amantadine, 71 study members using Kan Jang experienced about three fewer days of flu symptoms and were less likely to progress to complicated influenza.

Since flu can lead to serious complications (including pneumonia), it's important to seek medical help if you're experiencing flu symptoms (such as muscle aches, fatigue, and high fever). Find out about natural remedies for the flu.

3) Sinus Infections

A study published in 2002 shows that Kan Jang may help relieve the inflammation associated with sinusitis.

For the study, 185 individuals took either a placebo or Kan Jang in treatment of acute upper respiratory tract infections (including sinusitis). Results indicated that Kan Jang may help soothe headache and nasal and throat symptoms. However, cough and eye symptoms didn't differ significantly between the two groups.


Andrographis may trigger adverse effects like headache, fatigue, allergic reactions, nausea, and diarrhea.

Anyone using medications (including blood-thinning drugs, blood pressure medicines, and chemotherapy drugs) should consult a physician before using andrographis.

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of using andrographis. It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

You can get further tips on using supplements here.

Using Andrographis for Health

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend andrographis as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using andrographis for any health purpose, make sure to consult your physician first.


Coon JT, Ernst E. "Andrographis paniculata in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review of safety and efficacy." Planta Med. 2004 70(4):293-8.

Gabrielian ES, Shukarian AK, Goukasova GI, Chandanian GL, Panossian AG, Wikman G, Wagner H. "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 2002 9(7):589-97.

Kulichenko LL, Kireyeva LV, Malyshkina EN, Wikman G. "A randomized, controlled study of Kan Jang versus amantadine in the treatment of influenza in Volgograd." J Herb Pharmacother. 2003;3(1):77-93.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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