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Lyme Disease and Andrographis

Among the common names for Andrographis (andrographis paniculata) are green chiretta, chuan xin lian (in Traditional Chinese Medicine), and kalmegh (Ayurveda), as well as many more.

Andrographis has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antispirochetal (particularly important for the treatment of Lyme Disease), antimalarial, antitumor, antidiarrheal, immune stimulant, sedative, antithrombotic and thrombolytic, and hypoglycemic properties, among others.

Effect of Andrographis on Lyme Disease

Andrographis is considered to be one of the main herbs that can help lower, or even eliminate, lyme spirochete loads in the body, support the innate immune function to help respond to the borrelia infection, and treat some of the symptoms of Lyme disease including central nervous system confusion, arthritic inflammation, and skin issues among others.1

Particularly important is the ability of andrographis to protect against neurodegeneration in the brain, which is one the most serious and devastating symptoms of Lyme Disease. It is also helpful for protecting the heart.

(The other "main" herbs are Japanese Knotweed and Cat's Claw.)

Read more details about Andrographis.

Research Evidence on Andrographis

Andrographis has only recently come to be used in the west, but has been used for centuries in Ayurveda (medicine system native to India) and in Traditional Chinese Medicine.1

Traditionally, andrographis has been used to treat parasites, but the infections spirochetes implicated in Lyme Disease act similarly to parasites, so similar treatments are expect. Also, prior to antibiotics, andrographis was used to treat syphilis, which is another type of spirochete.2

How to Use Andrographis

Excretion of andrographis is fairly rapid (with 50% being excreted through the kidneys during the first two hours) and therefore must be taken on a regular daily schedule to be potentially effective.1

Stephen Harrod Buhner, author of Healing Lyme, suggests taking most herbs in an encapsulated or tablet-form whole herbs rather than tinctures.3

When using andrographis with other herbs, not much of the herb is needed due to its potency. When taken in isolation, the suggested dosage will change. It is important to speak with a qualified herbalist or other trained practitioner who can advise on the among that need be taken.

Safety Issues

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.

Other Uses

Additionally, andrographis is gaining popularity as a treatment for AIDS, colds and flu, and even cancer.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Burgos RA, Caballero EE, Sanchez NS, et al. Testicular toxicity assessment of Andrographis paniculata dried extract in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1997;58:219-224.
  4. 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.
  5. Zoha MS, Hussain AHM, Choudhury SAR. Antifertility effect of Andrographis paniculata in mice. Bangladesh Med Res Counc Bull. 1989;15:34-37.
  6. 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.
  1. Buhner, S.H. Healing Lyme: Natural Healing and Prevention of Lyme /borreliosis and Its Coinfections. Silver City, NM Raven Press. 2005
  1. Buhner, S.H. Healing Lyme: Natural Healing and Prevention of Lyme /borreliosis and Its Coinfections. Silver City, NM Raven Press. 2005 p. 81
  1. Buhner, S.H. Healing Lyme: Natural Healing and Prevention of Lyme /borreliosis and Its Coinfections. Silver City, NM Raven Press. 2005 p. 85

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