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Ask Dr.Casey- Andrographis For Immune Health

Coeur d’Alene Acupuncture & Holistic Healing / Health  / Ask Dr.Casey- Andrographis For Immune Health
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Ask Dr.Casey- Andrographis For Immune Health

By: Dr. Casey Carr, Naturopathic Medical Doctor, published originally in Natural Wellness

Dear Dr. Casey,

I am wondering if you have any tools to boost the immune system for the holiday gatherings that are upcoming. Any tricks to stay healthy? -Julia K

Hi Julia, 

Yes, ‘tis the season of colds and flus and COVID. There are a variety of nutraceutical or botanical adjuncts I turn to for help and would love to share. But they all rest on the foundation of solid determinants of health. There is no supplement that can replace adequate and deep rest, a nutrient dense pattern of eating with minimal added sugars, encouragement of lymphatic flow with daily movement of choice, and stress management techniques. 

The mind boggling thing is … most of these things go out the window by the time November and December hit. In fact, our culture is trained to do the very opposite. Sleep quality is worsened with increased alcohol imbibement, sugar consumption can skyrocket with cookies abound, movement shifts towards prolonged sitting watching football and stress can hit an annual high with the holiday craziness. We certainly have not necessarily set ourselves up for health success during these susceptible months. It truly conjures up to be a perfect recipe of compromised immunity plus large indoor gatherings. No wonder viruses have a ball this time of year. 

I am not unsympathetic or inhumane – I do have a bit of Holiday cheer in me and am not totally a curmudgeon trying to take away all of the season’s merriment. Holding anyone to a standard of perfection in any form is not healthy, either. While there is the ideal, there is also real life. So, in case real life happens to you this Holiday season and you fall ill, I will share my favorite party trick: immune style. 

If you ask ten naturopaths their favorite immune-boosting supplement at the time of sickness, you will certainly get ten different answers. There are lots of great add-ons out there that I will use if I am exposed to a viral sickness or feel one coming on. If I had to choose one to share with you, it would be the herb Andrographis paniculata. I used to receive a bottle of Andrographis Plus by Metagenics in my Christmas stocking every year as a teen, and I still do. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree with my Mom who is a large part of my inspiration and journey to whole-person care. Thanks, Mom, for teaching me this one when I was a kid. 

Traditionally, this plant was used more in Ayurvedic (Indian) and Chinese medicinal practices. The plant is extremely bitter, so encapsulated or tablet form of this plant is preferred by most over powdered or liquid tincture. However, in traditional herbal cultures, part of the folk medicine is actually tasting the herb – but be warned – it is called “King of the bitters” in some cultures. 

If you look at scholarly papers on Andrographis paniculata, you will see a whole slurry of potential health boosting effects: anti-inflammatory, antidiarrheal, hepatoprotective, antiprotozoal, and many, many more uses. In particular, the plant constituent andrographolides has a sizable research backing to be considered both an antiviral and immunostimulant. It is for this reason that Andrographis is one of the first things I turn to for an immune boost. Reduction of cough severity and frequency and shortened recovery time from respiratory infections have been demonstrated in numerous trials. Modern day science continues to support the traditional applications of this plant where it was used for common colds, fevers, cough, influenza, among other passed down traditional health conditions. 

This plant has also recently come more on the radar of conventional medicine with numerous studies potentiating its potent antiviral effect against COVID19. Before research was conducted, clinicians were noting reduced cytokine storm incidence and severity in those who were taking Andrographis. More advanced research now shows how its powerful plant constituents directly interplay to prevent COVID19 docking and reduction in cytokine storms. 

The question is: are you going to be as cool as my Mom and get your friends and loved ones a bottle of antiviral and immune-stimulating Andrographis paniculata this season as a pragmatic and useful immune assistant this season? I’ll be looking for mine in my stocking this year. 

Sources

Gupta S, Mishra KP, Ganju L. Broad-spectrum antiviral properties of andrographolide. Arch Virol. 2017 Mar;162(3):611-623. doi: 10.1007/s00705-016-3166-3. Epub 2016 Nov 28. PMID: 27896563.

Hossain MS, Urbi Z, Sule A, Hafizur Rahman KM. Andrographis paniculata (Burm. f.) Wall. ex Nees: a review of ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and pharmacology. ScientificWorldJournal. 2014;2014:274905. doi: 10.1155/2014/274905. Epub 2014 Dec 24. PMID: 25950015; PMCID: PMC4408759.

Nguyen HT, Do VM, Phan TT, Nguyen Huynh DT. The Potential of Ameliorating COVID-19 and Sequelae From Andrographis paniculata via Bioinformatics. Bioinform Biol Insights. 2023 Jan 12;17:11779322221149622. doi: 10.1177/11779322221149622. PMID: 36654765; PMCID: PMC9841859.

Okhuarobo A, Falodun JE, Erharuyi O, Imieje V, Falodun A, Langer P. Harnessing the medicinal properties of Andrographis paniculata for diseases and beyond: a review of its phytochemistry and pharmacology. Asian Pac J Trop Dis. 2014 Jun;4(3):213–22. doi: 10.1016/S2222-1808(14)60509-0. PMCID: PMC4032030.

You can check out more of Dr. Casey’s writings through the local Natural Wellness magazine publication and sign up for newsletters at her website, https://www.drcaseycarr.com/