Immune Hacks Part 1: Key Herb Andrographis
It is February and we are not only in the middle of cold and flu season, but COVID-19 is still a player. Immune support is a hot topic, and rightfully so! Herbs are amazingly useful for both the prevention and treatment of upper respiratory tract infections. I utilize them personally, for my family members, and in my patients with great success. This month I will spotlight some of my favorite herbs for immune support and where to get them!
First, a few key points:
1. Please do not take any herbs prior to discussing with your personal medical provider. If that’s me, just send a quick message to verify!
2. Sourcing of herbs is incredibly important. You may think that you are purchasing a bottle of specific herbal capsules at the pharmacy, but it is not that simple. These need to be made from the correct variety or varieties, plant part(s), and not contaminated or mixed with other substances in order to be both safe and useful.
3. Do not forget the basics! Your immune system is first and foremost dependent upon a healthy lifestyle: Sleep, eat lots of veggies and fruits, minimize sugar intake, exercise, the basics!
With that out of the way, let’s move on and learn about Key Herb #1: Andrographis! Andrographis is my hands-down favorite immune support herb for acute infections. This is best taken at the very first sign of illness and continued until symptoms resolve. Let me tell you: It works! I know this from both personal experience and literature review.
Andrographis paniculate is an amazing herb for bacterial, parasitic, and viral infections. When you feel like you are getting sick, reach for the Andrographis! This herb is immune-enhancing and will give you the extra boost that you need to get better quickly. I especially like to recommend Andrographis in combination with echinacea for an extremely effective remedy (see my preferred formulation below!). Here are some of the amazing benefits of this herb:
Upper respiratory tract infections: There are numerous research studies showing that Andrographis is particularly useful in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections (such as the common cold, acute sinusitis, and throat infections). In numerous studies of individuals with the common cold, significant reductions in symptom severity and duration were seen. Subjects also experienced fewer post-illness complications. Specifically reduced in severity were sore throat, tiredness, strength of illness, fever, fatigue, muscular achiness, cough, nasal discharge, expectoration, headache, earache, and sleep disturbance. Results were most often seen in those who started treatment with the herb within the first 3 days of symptoms.
Andrographis really shines as an acute treatment for upper respiratory tract infections, but it also has preventative properties. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial showed that Andrographis reduced the incidence of the common cold. In fact, enrolled children who were given the herb were 2.1 times less likely to fall ill during the 3-month study period.
Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects: Andrographis has been shown to be strongly anti-inflammatory which is a symptomatic benefit in cases of upper respiratory illness. It has even been shown to calm lung hyper-responsiveness in asthmatics. The herb also has significant antioxidant effects. In research studies, it protected against the toxicity of some medications, reducing expected damage to the liver and kidneys.
Anti-Pyretic: Andrographis is a known fever reducer with pain-relieving properties. One study found Andrographis to be as effective as acetaminophen in the treatment of sore throat and fever.
Safety Notes: Andrographis should not be taken by pregnant women, autoimmune sufferers, those taking immunosupressive medications, or anyone with gastric or duodenal ulcers. As mentioned previously, please discuss with your personal healthcare provider prior to taking. In general, it is a very safe herb with no side effects usually reported.
Sourcing: The useful parts of Andrographis are above the ground (as opposed to some other herbs in which the root or whole plant is most beneficial). It also has a high incidence of adulteration commercially so please purchase from a reputable source! Below you will find my go-to formulation. You will need to register for a Wellevate account prior to ordering, but this is a free and easy, no obligation process. I like to keep Andrographis Complex on hand so that I can start myself or my family members on a course at the first sign of illness. In adults, you can use up to 6 tabs per day (2 tabs, 3 times daily) for the first few days of illness and then taper gradually down until symptoms are gone. A good maintenance dose would be 1 tablet twice daily. As you will see, this formulation includes echinacea and holy basil in addition to Andrographis. Echinacea is another excellent immune tonic. I will discuss these in future blog posts. Taken with Andrographis, it provides complete support. Holy basil is a warming herb which rounds out the formula.
Click here to access Medi-Herb Andrographis Complex via Wellevate (choose “Create Account” if you do not have one). If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach me through my web contact form, or by patient portal message if you are a current patient of Peak Potential Integrative Health.
*This blog post does not include specific medical advice. While I have referenced reputable research studies, these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.