Scientific Classification:

Kingdom Plantae
unranked Angiosperms
unranked Eudicots
Order Lamiales
Family Acanthaceae
Genus Andrographis
Species A. paniculata
Binomial name Andrographis paniculata

Other Common Names:

The other common names for the shrub Andrographis are Chuan Xin Liang,Fah Tolai,Kalmegh,King Of Bitters and Kiryat.


Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) is an Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicinal herb.Andrographis, is a shrub that is found throughout India and other Asian countries.Andrographis paniculata, (AP), also known commonly as "King of Bitters,"is a member of the plant family Acanthaceae, and has been used for centuries in Asia to treat GI tract and upper respiratory infections, fever, herpes, sore throat, and a variety of other chronic and infectious diseases. It is sometimes referred to as "Indian echinacea".Andrographis was used historically in the Indian flu epidemic in 1919, during which it was credited with reversing the spread of the disease.

It is found in the Indian Pharmacopoeia and is the prominent in at least 26 Ayurvedic formulas. Thus andrographis has been used as medicinal herbs for centuries in not one, but several different medical traditions. The genus Andrographis consists of 28 species of small annual shrubs essentially distributed in tropical Asia. Only a few species are medicinal, of which A. paniculata is the most popular. Since ancient times, A. paniculata has been used as a planacea in traditional Siddha and Ayurvedic systems of medicine as well as in tribal medicine in India.


Andrographis is a perennial herb that can grow from 30-100 cm tall distinctly 4-angular and smooth apart from a few hairs at the nodes. The leaves are opposite, simple and narrowly egg-shaped to lance-shaped that size 5-10 cm x 1.2-2.5 cm. The apex is acuminate while the margin is entire and hairless but often gland-dotted. The petiole is short, up to 6 mm long and it is connected to the opposite one by transverse ridges. Flowers are in lax, axillary and terminal racemes or panicles combined into a pyramidal inflorescence, with 2 small bracteoles at base of the pedicel. The flowers are bisexual and zygomorphic. The sepal has 5 segments, joined at the base, with glandular and glandular hairs.

The petal is bilabiate, white or rose with purple markings on the upper lip. The petal tube is slightly enlarged below the limb. The lower lip is oblong and it is 2-toothed at the apex while the upper lip is deeply 3- lobed. It has 2 stamens that are inserted at the petal tube apex and exserted. The filaments are hairy with the anthers are inserted at the equal level. At the base they are united and bearded, deep purple to black in colour. The ovary is superior. It is 2-locular with 3-7 ovules in each cell, the style is curved upwards and the stigma is entire. The fruit is erect, narrowly ellipsoidal and has glandular hairy capsule.


It is a native of India and grows abundantly in southeastern Asia and Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Indonesia but it cultivated extensively in China and Thailand, the East and West Indies, and Mauritius.


The herb is found on plains and in forests throughout India, especially the south, and in other tropical Asian countries. Grows well in moist, waste and shaded places, but it prefers sunny situations.


The climatic requirement for the plant is hot and humid conditions with ample sunshine. With the onset of monsoon, plant grows luxuriantly and starts flowering with the moderation in temperature after end of monsoon.Andrographis thrive best in a sunny situation. The seeds which are sown during May-June are transplanted at a distance of 60 cm x 30 cm.During the flowering time of the plant one to three irrigations may be given. It flowers during August - November, and the whole plant starts maturing during February - March when it is harvested for the drug and is collected during November - January. The whole plant is dried in shade and the crude drug consists of dried or fresh leaves or the aerial portions of the plant. The germination is 70-80 %. Seeds should be covered with very thin layer of soil and compost mixture. Bed should be covered suitably with suitable mulch and irrigated regularly with water fountain till seedlings emerge (6-7 days).Immediately after germination mulch is removed to avoid elongation of the seedlings. If possible seedlings should be raised in shade to protect from heat sometimes, the whole plant, including the roots, is used. The drug normally should not contain more than 2% foreign organic matter. In addition to seeds, stem cuttings of the mature (but non-flowered plants) could also give rise to new plants.

Flowering Season

Flowers which are small, whitish or pale pink, with brown or purple blotches, in loose spreading axillary and terminal panicles are in bloom.

Pests and Diseases

The plant is almost free from any insects/pests of significance.

Parts Used


Though the whole plant is of medicinal and commercial value mostly the leaves and roots are commonly used.

Medicinal Applications


• Decoction of the plant is blood purifier, used for cure of torbid liver, jaundice, dermatological diseases, dyspepsia, febrifuge and anthelmintic. Tincture of roots is tonic, stimulant and aperient.

• It is used to rid the body of heat, as in fevers, and to dispel toxins from the body.

• The plant has remarkably beneficial effect in reducing diarrhea and symptoms arising from bacterial infections.

• The leaves, has been used to treat dhatoora (datura) poisoning, maggots in wounds, worms in the eye and abdomen, liver fluke, glossitis, holes in the hard palate, constipation, tuberculosis, pneumonia, leeches in the nostrils, contagious abortion, retention of placenta, tetanus and scabies.

• Andrographis strongly stimulates phagocytosis and the production of specific antibodies.

• Promotes mucus discharge from the respiratory system.

• Kills intestinal worms & support intestine and protects skin from pimples and acne.

• The macerated leaves and juice, together with carminative spices such as cardamom, clove and cinnamon, may be made into pills and prescribed for gripe and other stomach ailments in infants.

• It is also a major constituent of switradilepa, an Ayurvedic preparation which is used to treat vitiligo.

• The prevention and treatment of the common cold is the most common use for this herb in Scandinavian countries.

• The herbal remedies prepared from the andrographis herb have been successfully used in the treatment of atherosclerosis and heart attack in many different patients.

• The remedies made from andrographis have also been used in the treatment of cancer in patients.

• Andrographis is also used in the treatment of hepatitis, and related problems in the liver and gallbladder.


According to the astro reports the Andrographis falls under a planetary configuration of Saturn, Mars and Moon.

Cultural Influence on Andrographis

Andrographis is known as chuan xin lian in traditional Chinese herbalism, where it is believed to affect the digestive, cardiovascular and urinary systems. It is commonly used as a wintertime herb.

Quotes from History

The plant is known in north-eastern India as 'Maha-tita', literally 'king of bitters' and known by various vernacular names. It is also known as 'Bhui-neem', since the plant, though much smaller in size, shows similar appearance and has bitter taste as that of Neem (Azadirachta indica). In Malaysia, it is known as 'Hempedu Bumi' literally means 'bile of earth' since it is one of the most bitter plant that are used in traditional medicine. In Tamil it is called as 'Sirunangai' or 'Siriyanangai'.

Folklores and Myths

In Ayurvedic medicine, Andrographis, commonly known as Kalmegh or "King of Bitters" is used as a bitter tonic and is considered bitter and 'cold' and since it is considered 'cold' it is ideally suited to treating 'hot'conditions which includes acute infection. Both the fresh and dried andrographis leaves, as well as the fresh juice of the whole andrographis plant, have been widely used in traditional remedies and folkloric medicines for liver disorders, bowel complaints of children, colic pain, cases of general debility, and convalescence after fevers. It is also used as a stomachic, anthelmintic, antiperistaltic, and antispasmodic.