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.
Scientists have studied this herb for nearly thirty years.
Andrographis paniculata, the Kalmegh of Ayurveda is an erect annual herb extremely bitter in taste in each and every part of the plant body. The plant is known in north-eastern India as ‘Maha-tita’, literally ‘king of bitters’ and known by various vernacular names (Table below). It is also known as ‘Bhui-neem’, since the plant, though much smaller in size, shows similar appearance and has bitter taste as that of Neem (Azadirachta indica). In Malaysia, it is known as 'Hempedu Bumi' literally means 'bile of earth' since it is one of the most bitter plant that are used in traditional medicine. In Tamil it is called as 'Sirunangai' or 'Siriyanangai'. The genus Andrographis consists of 28 species of small annual shrubs essentially distributed in tropical Asia. Only a few species are medicinal, of which A. paniculata is the most popular.
|Chinese||Chuan Xin Lian 穿心連|
Unlike other species of the genus, A. paniculata is of common occurrence in most of the places in India, including the plains and hilly areas up to 500 m, which accounts for its wide use. Since time immemorial, village and ethnic communities in India have been using this herb for treating a variety of ailments.
It does best in a sunny location. The seeds are sown during May-June. The seedlings are transplanted at a distance of 60 cm x 30 cm.
Andrographolide, chief constituent extracted from the leaves of the plant, is a bitter water-soluble lactone exhibiting protective effects in carbon tetrachloride induced hepatopathy in rats. Its LD50 in male mice was 11.46gm/kg, ip. This bitter principle was isolated in pure form by Gorter (1911). Andrographolide is also attributed with such other activities like liver protection under various experimental conditions of treatment with galactosamine, paracetamol etc. The hepatoprotective action of andrographolide is related to activity of certain metabolic enzymes.
Andrographis paniculata plant extract is known to possess a variety of pharmacological activities. Andrographolide, the major constituent of the extract is implicated towards 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). 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.
The herb is the well-known drug Kalmegh 'green chiretta', and forms the principal ingredient of a reputed household medicine ('alui'), used as a bitter tonic and febrifuge.
Andrographolide is the major constituent extracted from the leaves of the plant which is a bicyclic diterpenoid lactone. This bitter principle was isolated in pure form by Gorter (1911). Andrographolide is also attributed with such other activities like liver protection under various experimental conditions of treatment with galactosamine (Saraswat et al, 1995), paracetamol (Visen et al, 1993) etc. The hepatoprotective action of andrographolide is related to activity of certain metabolic enzymes (Choudhury and Poddar, 1984, 1985; Choudhury et al, 1987). Systematic studies on chemistry of A. paniculata had been carried out by various researchers during various times.
Some known constituents are: