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Andrographis has not been associated with any side effects in human studies. In one study, participants were monitored for changes in liver function, blood counts, kidney function, and other laboratory measures of toxicity. 1 No problems were found.
However, some animal studies have raised concerns that andrographis may impair fertility. One study found that male rats became infertile when fed 20 mg of andrographis powder daily. 2 In this case, the rats stopped producing sperm and showed physical changes in some of the testicular cells involved in sperm production. Researchers also detected evidence of degeneration of other anatomical structures in the testicles. However, another study showed no evidence of testicular toxicity in male rats that were given up to 1 g per kilogram body weight daily for 60 days, so this issue remains unclear. 3 Furthermore, a human trial using the widely tested andrographis-eleutherococcus combination found no adverse effect on male fertility measurements such as sperm quality and number. 4 One group of female mice also did not fare well on high dosages of andrographis. 5 When fed 2 g per kilogram body weight daily for 6 weeks (thousands of times higher than the usual human dose), all female mice failed to get pregnant when mated with males of proven fertility. Meanwhile, of the control females, 95.2% got pregnant when mated with a similar group of male mice. Another study found a potential explanation for this in evidence that androphraphis relaxes the uterus. 6 While andrographis is probably not a useful form of birth control, these results are worrisome regarding the use of androphraphis by pregnant women.
Finally, if androphraphis does indeed stimulate the immune system, this would lead to a whole host of potential risks. The immune system is balanced on a knife edge. An immune system that is too relaxed fails to defend us from infections, but an immune system that is too active attacks healthy tissues, causing autoimmune diseases. A universal immune booster might cause or exacerbate lupus , Crohn’s disease , asthma , Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis , multiple sclerosis , and rheumatoid arthritis , among other illnesses.
Safety in young children, nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has also not been established.
Also, because andrographis may stimulate gallbladder contraction, it should not be used by individuals with gallbladder disease except under physician supervision.
- Hancke J, Burgos R, Caceres D, et al. A double-blind study with a new monodrug Kan Jang: decrease of symptoms and improvement in the recovery from common colds. Phytother Res. 1995;9:559-562.
- Akbarsha MA, Manivannan B, Shahul Hamid K, et al. Antifertility effect of Andrographis paniculata (Nees) in male albino rat. Indian J Exp Biol. 1990;28:421-426.
- Burgos RA, Caballero EE, Sanchez NS, et al. Testicular toxicity assessment of Andrographis paniculata dried extract in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1997;58:219-224.
- Mkrtchyan A, Panosyan V, Panossian A, Wikman G, Wagner H. A phase I clinical study of Andrographis paniculata fixed combination Kan Jang versus ginseng and valerian on the semen quality of healthy male subjects. Phytomedicine. 12(6-7):403-9.
- Zoha MS, Hussain AHM, Choudhury SAR. Antifertility effect of Andrographis paniculata in mice. Bangladesh Med Res Counc Bull. 1989;15:34-37.
- Burgos RA, Aguila MJ, Santiesteban ET. Andrographis paniculata (Nees) induces relaxation of uterus by blocking voltage operated calcium channels and inhibits Ca(+2) influx. Phytother Res. 2001;15:235-239.