Andrographis Culture
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Kristine Rungis
Posted on: February 20, 2005

I was thrilled to receive my andrographis seed pack, but cannot find any further information on its growing habit, likes, dislikes, and harvesting and using the plant. The paragraph in your catalogue is very intriguing, but I would like more information. Where to go? What to do?

Andrographis is very new to Canada and the U.S. It is tropical or subtropical herb found throughout the Indian subcontinent, as well as Thailand and China. It is cultivated as a medicinal herb in India and China, and sometimes as an ornamental plant in India.

Andrographis is known botanically as Andrographis paniculata or by the synonym, Justicia paniculata. In the Indian medicinal herbs market it is often known by its Bengali name, kalmegh, or by its Hindi name kiryat. In China, it is known as chuan xin lian. Some references mention an english name, "King of Bitters", a reference to its very bitter taste.

It is an erect annual growing 30-90 cm (1-3 ft) high. The flowers are small and white or pale-purple.

The seeds germinate easily provided that the soil is warm. We found that overnight soaking in water and supplying bottom heat to the seed box is helpful. The seeds germinate in 5-7 days. It grows in full sun, in loamy soil and prefers full sun. Although the seeds are commonly sown direct in the ground in India, we recommend sowing in seed boxes or pots a month before outdoor planting time in your area. When the threat of frost has passed and the ground is warm, plant outdoors.

The whole plant is used in medicine. Traditionally, it is used for flu, fevers, including malaria, wounds, ulcers, inflammations, skin diseases, intestinal worms, and digestive disorders. In Chinese medicine it clears Heat and detoxifies Fire Poison. The herb is a bitter tonic with potent antibacterial, antipyretic, and antiflammatory properties. And there is evidence that it has liver-protecting action also.

The whole above-ground parts of the plant are harvested when in flower and dried. The herb is taken as a strong infusion or decoction or powdered and packed in capsules for ingestion. The fresh juice of the leaves taken is a traditional Indian remedy for flatulence, loss of appetite, diarrhea, dysentery, dyspepsia, and general weakness. One Indian source says that instead of taking the juice, pills the size of a pea can be made from the paste of the leaves and taken three times a day after food for 2-3 days.

The major medicinal constituents andrographis are a class of compounds called andrographolides. In China, pills are typically standardized to 50 mg andrographolide content per tablet and solutions are standardized to 25 mg/ml for intravenous infusion or intramuscular injection.

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