Andrographis paniculata

Andrographis paniculata

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.

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.

List of vernacular names of A. paniculata Nees

Language Common name
Assamese Chiorta
Arabic Quasabhuva
Marathi Oli-kiryata
Bengali Kalmegh
Oriya Bhuinimba
Chinese Chuan Xin Lian 穿心連
English The Creat
Persian Naine-havandi
Gujarati Kariyatu
Sanskrit Kalmegha, Bhunimba
Hindi Kirayat
Tamil Nilavembu
Kannada Nelaberu
Telugu Nilavembu
Malayalam Nelavepu, Kiriyattu
Indonesian Sambiloto Thais Fa-Talai-Jorn

Description

It grows erect to a height of 30-110 cm in moist shady places with glabrous leaves and white flowers with rose-purple spots on the petals. Stem dark green, 0.3 - 1.0 m in height, 2 - 6 mm in diameter, quadrangular with longitudinal furrows and wings on the angles of the younger parts, slightly enlarged at the nodes; leaves glabrous, up to 8.0 cm long and 2.5 cm broad, lanceolate, pinnate; flowers small, in lax spreading axillary and terminal racemes or panicles; capsules linear-oblong, acute at both ends, 1.9 cm x 0.3 cm; seeds numerous, sub quadrate, yellowish brown.

Distribution

A. paniculata is distributed in tropical Asian countries often in isolated patches. It can be found in a variety of habitats i.e. plains, hill slopes, waste lands, farms, dry or wet lands, sea shore and even road sides. Native populations of A. paniculata are spread throughout south India and Sri Lanka which perhaps represent the centre of origin and diversity of the species. The herb is also available in northern stations of India, Java, Malaysia, Indonesia, West Indies and elsewhere in Americas where it is probably introduced. The species is also available in Hong Kong, Penang, Malacca, Pangkor Island (south of Penang), Malaya, Thailand, West Java, Borneo, Celebes, Brunei, West Indies, Jamaica, Barbados, Bahamas etc. However, precise data are lacking on the introduction and naturalization of the species in these countries.

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.

Cultivation

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.

Medicinal use

Since ancient times, A. paniculata is used as a wonderdrug in traditional Siddha and Ayurvedic 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 to possess antihepatotoxic, antibiotic, antimalarial, antihepatitic, antithrombogenic, antiinflammatory, antisnakevenom, and antipyretic properties to mention a few, besides its general use as an immunostimulant agent. A recent study conducted at Bastyr University, confirms anti-HIV activity of andrographolide.

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.

Phytochemistry

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:

  • "14-Deoxy-11-dehydroandrographolide, Plant
  • 14-Deoxy-11-oxoandrographolide, Plant
  • 5-Hydroxy-7,8,2',3'-Tetramethoxyflavone, Plant
  • 5-Hydroxy-7,8,2'-Trimethoxyflavone, Tissue Culture
  • Andrographine, Root
  • Andrographolide, Plant
  • Neoandrographolide, Plant
  • Panicoline, Root
  • Paniculide-A, Plant
  • Paniculide-B, Plant
  • Paniculide-C, Plant

References

Footnotes

General references

External links

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