Kalmegh (Andrographis paniculata) a medicinal herb of acanthaceae family, is one of the 32 medicinal plants in high demand all over the world. The rich potential of the medicinal resource could not be tapped until recently for want of technical know-how and absence of market linkages. Locally it is also called as 'nilavembu and adavi mirchi'. It is a berb used in siddha and ayurvedic medicine for multi-clinical applications. It is an erect annual herb extremely bitter in taste in all parts of the plant body. The plant is known in north-castern India as maha-tita, literally "king of bitters" and also known as buhi-neem meaning 'neem of the ground' since the plant, being a small annual herb, has a similar strong bitter taste as that of large neem tree. It is known for its exceptional ability to protect the liver, brain and heart, the three major organs that embody the body, heart and spirit complex of shaman ritualistic medicine. Kalmegh has been used for liver complaints and fever, and as an anti-inflammatory and immunostimulant. In clinical trials, andrographis extract has been studied for use as an immunostimulant in upper respiratory tract infections and HIV infection. The potential of andrographolide as an anticancer agent is being investigated. However, clinical evidence to support the use of kalmegh for any indication is lacking. Recent findings indicated that the application of kalmeg properties resulted in shortened duration and reduced symptoms of cold. a mere 3-6 grams of the dried herb when used daily, showed a marked reduction in cold symptoms whether eaten raw or made into tea. The plant extract also has anti-typhoid and anti-fungal properties and is also reported to possess anti-hepatoxic, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties to mention a few. Its general use as an immuno-stimulant agent in upper respiratory tract infections and HIV infection and decoction of the plant as a blood purifier is also welI known. The herb has been primarily used for liver complaints and to reduce fevers in the traditional medicines of India and china as well as for bitter tonic properties. The potential of andrographolides as an anti-cancer agent is being investigated.
Cite this article: