Andrographis: a Newcomer in Herbal Cold Remedies
Are you one of the estimated billion Americans who suffer from the common cold each year? If so, you might want to learn more about a little-known natural herb called andrographis.
Andrographis paniculata is actually a shrub, and is commonly found in India and Southeast Asia. It is popular in Chinese medicine, and in Scandinavian countries it has been used as a cold remedy for many years. Its immune-boosting properties are only now becoming known in America, and it shows such promise that it just might become more popular than the more widely-known herbal cold remedy echinacea.
Several studies have shown andrographis to be effective at fighting symptoms and shortening the duration of colds and flu - and it may even be effective at preventing these illnesses altogether. Andrographis has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, and has been shown to reduce fevers and promote immune response.
One placebo-controlled trial of 158 adults with colds showed encouraging results. Test subjects were given either a placebo, or 1200 mg of andrographis daily. When the two groups were compared, it was found that those who received the andrographis experienced significant relief of sore throat, nasal drainage, earache, and sleeplessness, while the placebo group did not.
Another study tested andrographis against acetaminophen (Tylenol) for cold symptoms including sore throat and fever. A dose of 6g per day of andrographis proved as effective as the acetaminophen in controlling symptoms.
An even more promising study showed that andrographis might play a helpful role in preventing colds altogether. During a three-month period, 107 study participants took either a placebo or 200 mg of andrographis daily. At the end of the test period, two times as many in the placebo group had colds as compared to the andrographis group. As this study would indicate, it might be smart to begin supplementing with this herb at the beginning of the cold season.
A typical suggested dose of andrographis is 400 mg three times per day to help relieve cold symptoms and shorten the duration of the cold (although doses as high as 2000 mg per day were used in some trials). As the study above indicates, a lower daily dose can be used when the herb is taken as a cold preventative.
No side effects have been established in human studies, but because it may stimulate gallbladder contraction, it is not recommended for persons with gallbladder disease. It is also not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, or small children, until further studies have been performed. (As with any new medication, natural or otherwise, it is best to consult your physician before adding andrographis to your herbal supplement regimen.)
Andrographis can be found at many health food stores, most commonly in capsule form. The little time you spend tracking down this promising herbal supplement might pay off handsomely when cold season comes around - and you find yourself healthy and sniffle-free.
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