Materia Medica

Latin Binomial: Andrographis paniculata

Family: Acanthaceae

Common Names: Andrographis, Chirette Verte, Maha-tikta (north-eastern India), Kalmegh (Ayurveda), Nila-Vembu (Tamil), Hempedu Bumi (Malaysia), Chuan Xin Lian (Chinese)


Andrographis paniculata is known as “The King of Bitters” has been used in ancient oriental and ayurvedic medicine. It is one of the most important plants used in Southeast Asian modern folk medicine for many assorted health concerns. A. paniculata is an annual, branched, erect herb about half to one meter in height and is native to peninsular India, Sri Lanka, and various other regions throughout Southeast Asia. The aerial parts and roots of the plant are used in traditional medicine. Phytochemical studies show a diverse range of compounds including labdane diterpenoid lactones and flavonoids that are shown to possess a wide spectrum of pharmacological properties including the anti-diabetic, immunostimulant, cytotoxic, anti-inflammatory, and many more to be discussed in detail. New research has been directed towards studies on its use as an insecticide and against malarial infections. A. paniculata taxonomic hierarchy and nomenclature can be here.


Visual identifiers for A. paniculata are the upper part of the stem is quadrangular while the lower part is nearly rounded, the leaves are opposite sessile or subsessile, linear-lanceolateor lanceolate, 3-8 cm long, acute, glabrous and base cuneate, margin slightly undulate. The flowers are pedicelled, bilipid, white-purple or spotted purple and solitary. It prefers tropical and subtropical regions and is a hardy species which can be grown in medium fertile sandy loam to clay-loam soils, possibly with irrigation and can withstand partial shade. It is easily propagated by seed. Crop matures after 120 days, when they bloom, at which point it is best to harvest. The leaves should yield 2.5% chemical constituents on analysis. Cooler climate helps plants in synthesizing more bitter ingredients. More details on production can be found here.

Diseased used for:

Anti-venom activity for snake bites

Anti-microbial activity

Anti-inflammatory/anti-allergic activity

Anti-oxidant activity

Immunostimulant activity

Cytotoxicity (anti-cancer)

Anti-diabetic activity

Anti-protozoan (malaria) activity

Insecticidal activity

Anti-infective activity

Anti-angiogenic activity

Hepato-renal protective activity


Associated body areas/metabolic system pathways:

digestive track

snake bite


Preparations and how to use:

Ones we make – ethanol tincture, infused in olive oil

Other ones – too bitter to make a pleasant tea

Safety: (Contradictions/Cautions)

Toxicitiy (from this review) – The safety of extract (Kalmcold) in genotoxic tests has been reported and the LD50 value has been determined to be more than 5 g/kg rat body weight in an oral acute toxicity study. Other studies have also confirmed that A. paniculata is a safe, medically important plant with only possible risk for an allergic reaction, as with all substances.