Scientific name: Andrographis paniculata

Common names: : Chiretta, Chirayta, King of Bitters

Ayurvedic names: Kalmegh

Chinese names: Chuan Xin Lain

Bangladesh names: Kalmegh

Arabic names:    ملك المر (maliku almurr)

Rain Forest names:

Other names: Kirata (Sanskrit), Senshinhren (Japan)

Family: Acanthaceae

Approximate number of species known: 28

Common parts used: Root, leaf, aerial parts


Annual/Perennial: Annual

Height: 30 to 110 cm

Actions: Antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet, abortifacient, antioxidant, immune-stimulating, hepatoprotective

Known Constituents: Diterpenoid lactones (andrographolides), glucosides (neoandrographolide and androheaphsidie), flavanoids

Constituents Explained: 


A native Indian and Sri Lankan herb, the name ‘Kalmegh’ means ‘King of Bitters’. It is a highly valued medicine in India.

More and more in the west it is simply referred to by its latin name ‘Andrographis.’

It is sometimes called “Bhui-neem” in reference to its similar appearance to another Indian herb ‘Neem’, also possessing the bitter taste. 

It is sometimes used interchangeably with another herb called ‘Swertia Chirata’ which sometimes sees it called ‘Chirayta.’

Famed recently for its nullifying effects on colds, flu’s, and as an immune system enhancer.  

Traditional Use:

Regarded as an immune system stimulant, and as a liver protectant. 

Its extreme bitterness sees it deployed in Ayurvedic medicine as a tonic, and stomachic. Like most bitters it stimulates appetite and is used for digestion. 

At higher doses it has been used as a laxative and an abortifacient, which makes it contraindicated during pregnancy.

Studies have been conducted into possible anti-HIV effects and research has been carried out on the possible anti-cancer properties of one of its main constituents andrographolides . 

Clinical Studies:

A research investigated the anti-cobra venom effect of alcoholic extract of Andrographis paniculata. After calculating the LD(99) of snake venom, the venom-neutralizing ability of plant extract at the dose 1 g/kg and 2 g/kg was determined using in vitro and in vivo methods. 

The ethanolic extract of plant A. paniculata significantly increases mean survival time and the protection fold. ASV was found more effective than the plant extract. When ASV (anti-snake venom) was given along with plant extract, it potentiates its effect. 

The observation demonstrates the anti-cobra venom activity of ethanolic extract of A. paniculata which is comparable with ASV.

Another research studied the ethanol extract of the aerial part of Andrographis paniculata was prepared and evaluated for antimicrobial activity against eleven bacterial strains by determining minimum inhibitory concentration and zone of inhibition.

Minimum inhibitory concentration values were compared with control and zone of inhibition values were compared with standard ciprofloxacin in concentration 100 and 200 mug/ml. 

The results revealed that, the ethanol extract is potent in inhibiting bacterial growth of both Gram-negative and Gram positive bacteria.


Premendran SJ, Salwe KJ, Pathak S, Brahmane R, Manimekalai K. “Anti-Cobra Venom Activity of Plant Andrographis Paniculata And Its Comparison With Polyvalent Anti-Snake Venom.” 2011 July.

Mishra US, Mishra A, Kumari R, Murthy PN, Naik BS. “Antibacterial Activity of Ethanol Extract of Andrographis Paniculata.” 2009 July.



Andrographis originated in the plains of India, and it also grows in China. The leaves and flowers are used medicinally.

The major constituents in andrographis are diterpene lactones known as andrographolides. These bitter constituents are believed to have immune-stimulating, anti-inflammatory, fertility-decreasing, liver-protective, and bile secretion-stimulating actions. Though some older studies suggested andrographis was antibacterial, modern research has been unable to confirm this finding.

Several double-blind clinical trials have found that andrographis can help reduce symptom severity in people with common colds. Though the earliest clinical trial among these showed modest benefits, later studies have tended to be more supportive. Standardized andrographis extract combined witheleuthero (Siberian ginseng), known as Kan jang, has also been shown in a double-blind clinical trial to reduce symptoms of the common cold.

A preliminary uncontrolled study using isolated andrographolide found that while it tended to decrease viral load and increase CD4 lymphocyte levels in people with HIV infection, at the amount used, the preparation led to side effects, including headache, fatigue, a bitter/metallic taste in the mouth, and elevated liver enzymes (which returned to normal after the medication was stopped). It is unknown whether the andrographolides used in this study directly killed HIV or had an immune-strengthening effect.

Andrographis has proven helpful in combination with antibiotics for people with dysentery, a severe form of diarrhea. It has also shown preliminary benefit for people with chronic viral hepatitis.


Other names: Lucerne?

Latin name: Andrographis paniculata

Family: Fabaceae?

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Whole herb





Known Constituents:

Constituents Explained:


A herb that is native to India.  

Traditional Use:

It has received fame recently for colds, flus, and as an immune system enhancer.  More and more in the west it is simply referred to by its latin name ‘Andrographis.’

A bitter herb that like most bitters can stimulate digestion.  It also has been employed in cases of food poisoning.

In addition to its respiratory, including cold and flu uses, it has been used as a remedy for the liver

Clinical Studies: