Andrographis – The Little Known Immunity Superhero
If you were to think of a herb that is good for immunity then chances are Echinacea would pop into your head first. However if you’re looking for a science-backed ingredient that may really make a difference to your immunity, then it should be Andrographis (full name Andrographis paniculata) you look to, which is one of the star ingredients in our Immunity Edition.
A small green shrub that grows in tropical regions, especially in Asia, it has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for immunity and to fight against fevers. We would agree that just because a herb has been used for centuries, doesn’t necessarily mean that it works… however in this case, science shows that it does.
Research on Andrographis and ImmunityWe wanted to dedicate a blog post to this amazing herb because there is compelling evidence that it can have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity in the body (1). This is especially useful to know at times when immunity is front of mind such as with the pandemic, but equally to have as a medicine cabinet essential for seasonal colds, coughs and flu. Indeed, a 2017 study that evaluated 33 randomised controlled trials on the effect of Andrographis on upper respiratory tract infections in children and adults concluded that it is not only safe and has no notable side effects but is also more effective than placebo for managing symptoms (such as coughs and sore throats). It also reduced duration of illness and number of sick days taken. This is perhaps why in Scandinavia it is recommended ahead of Echinacea for immunity, and also why it is thought to have helped bring an end to the Spanish flu epidemic in India in 1920.
How Does Andrographis Work To Support Immunity?
The active constituents of Andrographis, known as andrographolides, are what seem to work to support the body’s immune system so effectively, specifically by reducing bacterial load after infection, keeping inflammatory markers controlled (essential as part of long-term recovery), and reducing the sticky deposits that some bacteria lay down on mucus membranes (such as lungs and gut) called ‘biofilm’, which may contribute to persistent infections that are proving hard to clear (1,2,3).
Andrographis and Covid-19There has been particular interest recently in the part that Andrographis may play in helping to manage Covid-19. A recent study conducted by Banerjee et al in 2020 (4) demonstrated that it may help to dampen the excessive inflammation that can occur as a response to the virus, which can be very damaging to the body if not kept under control. More research is definitely needed here, but we expect this to unfold as work goes on to find supportive ingredients that help balance our immune system.
What Else Might Help My Immunity?
Though Andrographis does appear to be a herb that is hugely beneficial when used in isolation, at Equi London we find that it is the combination of this with other nutrients that have also been proven to help keep our immune system functioning optimally (such as vitamin C, vitamin D, olive leaf extract and zinc) which can be so powerful. Vitamin C is of particular note, with a recent campaign www.vitaminC4covid.com headed up by 350 leading researchers, doctors and healthcare professionals highlighting the evidence showing that high dose vitamin C can halt the onset of severe Covid-19 symptoms (5). They also suggest that it may be partly to thank for the fact that deaths in China have been so low in comparison to other countries. The campaign recently published over 100 trials related to Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses to back their case, showing that it may help to “suppress viral replication in the early stages of the disease”. We use premium vitamin C in the form of calcium ascorbate instead of ascorbic acid, which is used in all other supplements as it is less acidic, and doesn’t give any gut related side effects.
Knowing that nothing ever replaces a healthy diet, our experts also wrote this article on what to eat to support your immunity.
Balance, Not BoostIf you haven’t heard us say this already, we want to remind you here that immunity should not be BOOSTED. Indeed, this can be harmful in many cases, and actually lead to overactive immune function (think of allergies, autoimmunity and inflammation). It is about BALANCING your immune system, and our Immunity Edition has been carefully designed to work to do this, combining 8 of the most supportive and nourishing ingredients together for ultimate immune insurance. You can learn more about this product here, or drop us an email with questions and one of our nutritionists will get back to you.
- Ovais Sareer Sayeed Ahmad, Shahid Umar. Andrographis paniculata: a critical appraisal of extraction, isolation and quantification of andrographolide and other active constituents. Nat Prod Res. 2014;28(23):2081-101.
- Malabika Banerjee, Soumitra Moulick, Kunal Kumar Bhattacharya, Debaprasad Parai, Subrata Chattopadhyay, Samir Kumar Mukherjee. Attenuation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa quorum sensing, virulence and biofilm formation by extracts of Andrographis paniculate. PLoS One. 2017; 113:85-93.
- Xiao-Yang Hu, Ruo-Han Wu, Martin Logue, Clara Blondel, Lily Yuen Wan Lai, Beth Stuart, Andrew Flower, Yu-Tong Fei, Michael Moore, Jonathan Shepherd, Jian-Ping Liu, George Lewith. Andrographis paniculata (Chuān Xīn Lián) for symptomatic relief of acute respiratory tract infections in adults and children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Microb Pathog, 2017 Dec;113:85-93.
- Banerjee, Subhadip; Kar, Amit; Mukherjee, Pulok K; Haldar, Pallab K; Sharma, Nanaocha; Katiyar, Chandra Kant. Immunoprotective potential of Ayurvedic herb Kalmegh (Andrographis paniculata) against respiratory viral infections - LC-MS/MS and network pharmacology analysis. 2020. Phytochem Anal
- Patrick Holford, Anitra C. Carr, Thomas H Jovic, Stephen R Ali, Iain S Whitaker, Paul E Marik, David Smith. Vitamin C—An Adjunctive Therapy for Respiratory Infection, Sepsis and COVID-19. doi:10.20944/preprints202010.0407.v1
Disclaimer: As with all information on Equi London, this information is not a substitute for medical advice. No one diet or supplement regime works for everyone and you should always seek help from a GP and registered health expert before making changes to your diet, or before introducing any supplements.