Andrographis, between Tradition and Modernity
Andrographis paniculata ; its traditional usage, its therapeutic future.
Different Traditional Chinese Medicine plants are studied scientifically, as for example, l'armoise annuelle (Artemisia annua L.), used in malaria and andrographis (Andrographis paniculata (Burm. F.) Nees.
The Chinese Medicine having a long experience in China in the diseases treatments and even more an efficacy proved through numerous clinical practices, the Chinese Government allocates more and more money to scientific works realized with plants used in therapeutic for centuries.
According to Professor De-An Gu, from Shangai Research Center for TCM Modernization, many Chinese Pharmaceutical companies have grown very fast and now invest more and more in the research and development of herbal medicines.
Since 2005, an andrographis extract (Andrographis paniculata (Burm. F.) Nees; Family of Acanthaceae ; Genus andrographis) the HMPL-004 appears in several recent studies. The Pharmaceutical Company HUTCHISON MEDIPHARMA, in Shanghai, developed it.
The andrographis is a plant used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines to treat infections of the respiratory tract, skin and intestines. The Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China documents the use of andrographis in the treatment of influenza with fever. Traditionally the plant aerial parts are presented under their dry form and used in decoction. However their very bitter taste conduces the therapists to elaborate an extract presented in capsule or tablet. It’s one of the bitterest plant which motivates its surname « the King of Bitters ».
In 2009, HUTCHISON MEDIPHARMA conducted a Phase II clinical study over 400 patients with the botanical extract HMPL-004, standardized in andrographolides, in the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). The results of this study show:
• A pharmacological activity compared to Infliximab. Infliximab is a monoclonal antibody factor alpha (TNFα) for treatment of ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease... It was administrated by intravenous injection. The HMPL-400 could have a similar immune-modulator effect but without the important side effects of Infliximab. Furthermore, it has the advantage to be absorbed per os.
• A “dose-depend” effect comparable to the mesalamine or 5-aminosalicyclic acid, an anti-inflammatory drug treating ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, two inflammations of the digestive tract.
• A good tolerance among the patients
We have here an excellent example of a plant known and used for millennium in Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine, which today is studied scientifically to prove its therapeutic qualities.
Remark: the WHO admits, also, the andrographis use in the prevention and treatment of the respiratory infections such as colds, bronchitis, sinusitis and pharyngitis.
Dr Pascale IMBERT
GIRI, due to its international structure, organizes workshops yearly throughout the world. The aim of the GIRI is to bring together pharmacologists, biologists, physicians, chemists, physicists and other professionals to communicate, exchange experiences and develop joint research projects; the distinctive feature of the research activities of the group is the study of ultra low dose substances or high dilutions, homeopathy included. Although the mechanism of action of the very diluted solutions of active principles on biological systems is an important concern of the GIRI, the major interest of the Group is directed towards the advancement and understanding of high dilution effects. More than one hundred persons are GIRI members, coming from 20 different countries.