Andrographis is an herb that comes from an annual shrub that ranges from 1-4 feet in height. It grows mostly in Asia, especially India, Pakistan and Indochina, and has been widely used for hundreds of years throughout Asia, especially China and India, to treat a variety of maladies, including malaria and other parasites, syphilis, bowel problems, liver dysfunction and importantly, other chronic and acute infectious diseases. Only in recent years has andrographis been brought to the West and have researchers begun to discover its amazing potential, especially for managing Lyme disease. In some European countries, it is used to treat colds and flu.
There are 28 species of andrographis, only a few of which are medicinal. Andrographis paniculata is the most potent and widely used, and its use as an antimicrobial agent in Lyme disease may have been first introduced on a large scale to the Lyme disease community when master herbalist Stephen Harrod Buhner described it in his 2005 book, Healing Lyme.
Andrographis hasn’t been as widely known as cat’s claw or samento as an anti-borrelia agent, but it may be just as effective and powerful. Steven Buhner even states in Healing Lyme that it is the best primary herb to use in Lyme disease.
In addition to being an anti-spirochetal herb, andrographis also has anti-parasitic properties, enhances immune function, protects the heart, is anti-inflammatory and crosses the blood brain barrier, which enables it to access pathogens in the brain. It also improves the functioning of the liver, which may better enable the liver to remove Lyme-related toxins. In addition, an August 2017 review published in Front Pharmacology revealed that it may have beneficial effects in different components of metabolic syndrome, including diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and obesity, and other studies show it to have anti-cancer effects. These represent just a few of its properties and uses.
According to Steven Buhner in Healing Lyme, clinical trials and studies have found andrographis to be active against a wide range of parasitical organisms, including plasmodium species (malaria), Leishmaniana (leshmaniasis), filariasis, human roundworm, and leptospirosis. Many people with Lyme disease actually have some of these infections, too, so by treating Borrelia you may also be treating one or more types of parasites in the body. What’s more, it has been found to be effective for eliminating some types of dental infections, including Treponema denticola, which is another type of spirochetal organism.
Interestingly, a study published in September 2017 in CNS Drugs also showed andrographis to have a positive effect upon multiple sclerosis. As Lyme is frequently misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis, this suggests that the herb may help to mitigate MS-like symptoms in Lyme patients, including poor cognition, coordination issues and nervous system inflammation.
In addition, andrographis supports the heart, circulatory system and liver in a variety of ways. For instance, it has been found in studies to prevent platelet clumping and blood vessel clots, and to stimulate gall bladder function, bile flow, bile acids and salts. It also protects the liver against the damaging effects of environmental toxins.
According to Steven Harrod Buhner in Healing Lyme, in Lyme disease, the herb does all of the following (paraphrased):
1) Has anti-spirochetal effects (anti-Borrelia)
2) Is protective and healing for the neurological aspects of Lyme
3) Is a powerful anti-inflammatory, especially for the nervous system
4) Can help ameloriate some symptoms of Lyme, including pain, headache, confusion and chronic fatigue
5) Stimulates the immune system to respond to the infections
6) Protects the heart and cardiovascular system
7) Modulates autoimmunity
8) Acts throughout the body to protect the body against damage from spirochetes, while also killing them and acting as a broadly systemic immune enhancer.
I used andrographis in the early stages of my battle with Lyme disease and found it to be incredibly powerful. I used it in combination with other herbs, such as cat’s claw, noni and artemisinin, to target all of the infections. For me, herbal remedies were not enough to put Lyme into remission, but I believe that they are a valuable adjunct to any regimen and for some people, they may be sufficient. Indeed, Steven Harrod Buhner’s protocol for Lyme patients has been widely regarded as being both safe and efficacious.
Typical dosages of andrographis may be anywhwere from 1-4 400 mg capsules, 3-4 times daily in a preparation standardized to 10% andrographolides. As most herbs and antimicrobial remedies, the dosage should be gradually increased.
Whereas the motto within the Lyme disease community once seemed to be that Herxheimer, or detoxification reactions from treatments were a good thing and a sign that treatments were working, more and more practitioners are giving their patients only enough of an antimicrobial remedy to elicit a mild detoxification reaction. Too strong of reactions can actually worsen patients as symptoms of a Herxheimer indicate that the remedies have created more die-off than the patient’s body was able to handle. The result is that any toxins generated by the detox reaction may end up getting recycled back into the body.
Side effects may include dizziness, heart palpitations and the occasional allergic reaction. If any of these occur, the dosage of the herb should be reduced or even discontinued, according to your doctor’s recommendations.
Further Reading and References
Farzaei MH1,2, Shahpiri Z3,4, Bahramsoltani R3,4, Nia MM2,5, Najafi F6, Rahimi R7,8. Efficacy and Tolerability of Phytomedicines in Multiple Sclerosis Patients: A Review. CNS Drugs. 2017 Sep 25. doi: 10.1007/s40263-017-0466-4. [Epub ahead of print]
Gupta S1, Mishra KP2, Ganju L1. 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.
Low M1, Khoo CS2, Münch G3,4, Govindaraghavan S5, Sucher NJ6.
An in vitro study of anti-inflammatory activity of standardised Andrographis paniculata extracts and pure andrographolide.
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015 Feb 7;15:18. doi: 10.1186/s12906-015-0525-7.
Muhammad T. Islam1,2,* Andrographolide, a New Hope in the Prevention and Treatment of Metabolic Syndrome. Front Pharmacol. 2017; 8: 571. Published online 2017 Aug 23. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2017.00571. PMCID: PMC5572404
Buhner, Steven Harrod. 2005. Healing Lyme. Randolph, VT: Raven Press.
Connie Strasheim is the author or co-author of 11 wellness books, including the recently released New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment: 10 Top Doctors Real Healing Strategies that Work. (October, 2016) and Beyond a Glass of Milk and a Hot Bath: Advanced Sleep Solutions for People with Chronic Insomnia. (March, 2017). She is also a medical copywriter and an editor at ProHealth.com, as well as Editor of the Alternative Cancer Research Institute (ACRI). Her passion is to help people with complex chronic illnesses find freedom from disease and soul-spirit sickness using whole body medicine, and she collaborates with some of the world’s best integrative doctors to do this. In addition to Lyme disease and insomnia, Connie’s books focus on cancer, nutrition, detoxification and spiritual healing. To learn more about her work, see: www.ConnieStrasheim.org.