Herbs for Every One

Botanical Name: Andrographis paniculata (ACANTHACEAE)
English Name: Indian echinacea, andrographis
Hindi Name: Kalmegh

Introduction: The controvery in the identity of Kalamegha and Kiratatikta is similar to that between Brahmi (B.monnieri) and Mandukaparni (C.asiatica). Now, there is no more controversy since the former is identified as A. paniculata while the later is identified as Swertia chirata. Both the plants are often called by a common name Bhunimba. This plant is traditionally used for the management of fevers and wound healing. In the recent years it is well known for its hepatoprotective activity and anti-hepatitis B-activity.

Distribution: It is an erect annual herb found throughout the hotter and tropical parts of India from UP to MP, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamilnadu, Punjab, Haryana etc.

Chemical Constituents: Andrographolides, kalameghin, andrographin, andrographidine A, B, C, D, E & F, andrographoside, neoandrographolide, paniculides etc.

Parts Used: Whole plant.

Properties: Febrifuge, bitter, alterative, anthelmintic, digestive etc.

Indications: Hepatitis, fevers, diabetes, worm infestation, jaundice, anemia, wounds etc.

Dose: 2-3 g of powder & 30-60 ml decoction.

Therapeutic Uses:

  • Vomiting: Paste of kalamech (5g) is mixed with sugar+honey and given orally.
  • Diabetes: Powder is taken twice daily with water (2-3g).

Scientific Studies:

Anti-snake venom activity: It is used as curative or preventive in snake bite (I.M.J. 1963, 57, 307).

Heptatoprotective activity: It increased biliary flow and liver weight in rats and decreased hexabarbital-induced sleeping time ( Ind.J. Exp. Biol. 1978, 6, 830). Hepatoprotective activity of andrographolide was reported in acute hepatitis in rats ( IJMR, 1990, 92, 284).

Cardiovascular activity: Pretreatment with a single dose of kalamech leaf ( 500 mg/kg p.o) or andrographolide (5ml/kg p.o.) prevented CCI4-included increase of SGOT and SGPT but decreased liver levels of these enzymes in dog ( IRCS Med. Sci. 1984, 12, 466). Total root flavonoids effective against experimental myocardial ischemic necrosis induced by isoprenaline in rats and by ligation of left descending coronary artery in rabbits; decreased infarction size and pathological changes in ST segment and Q wave inhibited ( Zhongcaoyao, 1987, 18, 315).

Anticancer activity: Leaf extract showed significant cytotoxicity against KB and P388 cells ( J.Sci.Res; Thailand 1992, 18, 187).

Cultivation Technology: The plant is cultivated on wide range of soil from loam to lateritic soils with moderate fertility. Seeds are sown in nuesry beds during April-May under irrigated and July-August under un-irrigated conditions. 15-20 cm long seedlings are transplanted to the main plots at the distance of 30x30 cm. Irrigate the field immediately after transplanting and later as and when required.

Harvesting: The crop becomes ready for harvest in 100-150 days after planting on the initiation of flowering. Entire plant is cut at the base with the help of a sickle and dried in shade.