Andrographis vs. the Common Cold

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Andrographis vs. the Common Cold

The Indian shrub Andrographis paniculata (Burm.) Nees, Acanthaceae has been used for more than 12 years in Nordic countries for reducing symptoms and duration of the common cold. In a double-blind clinical study in 50 patients assessed by an extensive diagnostic scheme, Andrographis produced dramatic positive results in three areas:

Symptom relief. Fifty-five percent of those taking Andrographis extract reported that their colds had been much easier than usual, while in the placebo group only 19 percent experienced symptomatic improvement.
Days of sick leave. Those in the active treatment group averaged only 0.2 day of sick leave, while those in the placebo group averaged one day of sick leave during the five days of treatment.
Reduced duration of symptoms. After five days of treatment, 75 percent of those in the active group were considered totally recovered, compared to fewer than 40 percent in the placebo group.
The researchers who conducted this Swedish trial conclude that Andrographis extract tablets "have positive effects on the treatment of common cold." The authors also summarize other investigations of Andrographis, including a Chinese study in which reductions in body temperature were observed in 70 of 84 patients. A controlled study conducted in Chile reported significant improvements against symptoms of colds and sinusitis compared to placebo. Finally, in a study of 152 patients with sore throat (pharyngo-tonsillitis), Andrographis extract was as effective as acetaminophen in the treatment of all symptoms. Reports of side effects are rare with Andrographis, supporting the authors' conclusion that the plant is "very well suited as self-treatment in uncomplicated common colds."

[Melchior, J., Palm, S., and Wikman, G. 1996/1997. Controlled clinical study of standardized Andrographis paniculata extract in common cold a pilot trial. Phytomedicine 3/4:314-318]

American Botanical Council.

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By Rob McCaleb

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