Andrographis paniculata Extract: A perfect Ethnomedicine to Boost Your Immunity

[During this COVID-19 pandemic the whole world is searching for immune-boosters, but only a few people know about the efficiency of Kalmegh/Andrographis paniculata Extract; it’s a great remedy to fight against coronavirus.]

Plants are the key engineers of this living world where the human races contribute as the mega consumer. In many developing countries, it is estimated that about two-third of the total population relies heavily on traditional practitioners and medicinal plants to meet primary healthcare needs.[1] According to WHO, approximately 4 billion people (80%) of the world currently depend on herbal medicine for some aspects of primary health care.[2]

As a result of the numerous problems associated with orthodox drugs, many plant species are now been revalued by the researchers based on variation in plant species and their therapeutic chemical principles. As per the report by NCI, USA, out of the 877 small biological molecules, 61% of them were introduced as medicinal products worldwide during 1981–2002 which were isolated from nature-derived products.[3] Thus, a new era of phytomedicine has emerged out during the last decade and now is being screened for pharmacological activities.

The pandemic revives the natural resolution in our daily life…

From the beginning of 2020, the global human races are facing the COVID-19 pandemic. The cases of COVID-19 are still increasing day-by-day worldwide, even after a year of its first occurrence in Wuhan city of China. The spreading of SARS-CoV-2 infection is very fast and different from other SARS-CoV infections, possibly due to structural differences in S proteins. Patients with severe diseases may die due to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) caused by systemic inflammatory reactions due to the excessive release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines by the immune effector cells. In India too, it is spreading very rapidly, although, at present, the case fatality rate is above 1.50%.

Related article: Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome related to COVID-19

Under such a health crisis the Andrographis paniculata extract is a super immune-booster as home garden wealth along with other Indian traditional medicinal herbs.

Andrographis paniculata/Green Chirreta: The Ethnobotanical Identity

Andrographis paniculata Extract - Bioactivity
Leaves of A. paniculata

Andrographis paniculata (Burm. f) Nees, commonly known as the “king of bitters”, is an herbaceous plant belonging to the family Acanthaceae and is found throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of Southeast Asia, America, West Indies, and Africa.

The aerial parts’ extract and roots of the plant have been widely used as traditional medicine in China, India, Thailand, and other Southeast Asian countries to treat many maladies. Traditionally, Andrographis paniculata extract was used in ancient oriental and ayurvedic medicine including Siddha, folk medicine.[4]

In India, A. paniculata is known as “Kalmegh” (Bengali) “Mahatita” (Hindi) “Mahatikta” (Sanskrit); in China, it is known as “Chuan-Xin-Lian”; people in Thailand call it “Fah Tha Lai”; in Malaysia, it has been named as “Hempedu bumi”; Japanese calls it “Senshinren”; and in Scandinavian countries, it is known as “Green chirretta”.

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Phytochemicals in Andrographis paniculata Extract

Andrographolide from Andrographis paniculata Extract
Andrographolide

Two basic types of secondary metabolites are present in this plant – terpenoids and flavonoids; besides other minor compounds like noriridoides, xanthones, polyphenols, and trace and macro elements are also isolated from the extracts of this plant.

Andrographolide, a diterpenoid lactone, is the major bioactive phytoconstituent found in A. paniculata leaf extract. The structure of andrographolide has been analyzed by using X-ray, 1H, 13C-NMR, and ESI-MS along with its various derivatives. Flavones are the major flavonoids that have been isolated from this plant.[4]

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Bioactivities of Andrographis paniculata Extract

Crude extracts of this plant exhibits multi-directional pharmacological efficiencies that include  immunostimulatory, antiviral, and antibacterial activities. However, the major active constituent of A. paniculata, andrographolide exhibits some additional of biological activities, such as anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antitumor, antidiabetic, antimalarial, and hepatoprotective.

In recent decades, numerous andrographolide derivatives have emerged and their pharmacological activities have also been evaluated. See table 1 for details:

Parts of the plantEthnomedicinal use
LeafFever, colic pain, loss of appetite, irregular stools and diarrhea, common cold, cough, fever, hepatitis, tuberculosis, mouth ulcers, bronchitis gastro-intestinal disorder, and sores.
Whole Aerial partCommon cold, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, malaria and snakebite, urinary tract infection.
Whole plantSnakebite and insect sting treatment, dyspepsia, influenza, dysentery, malaria, and respiratory infections.
RootFebrifuge, tonic, stomachic and anthelmintic.
Table 1. Medicinal use of Andrographis paniculata extract

Andrographolide and Anti COVID-19 Activities: In-Silico Studies

Andrographis paniculata Extract - Biology
A. paniculata: Aerial twig with leaves

Modern pharmacognosy or drug discovery is interested in finding pure potent plant compounds without adding any analogs or derivatives. At this point, scientists uncovered that the phytochemical, Andrographolide intriguing due to its awesome properties.

The drug compound, Andrographolide can be isolated and produced easily from the plant Andrographis paniculata extract. When the compound was analyzed by in silico computational docking tools it successfully docked against the inhibitor region of the main protease of SARS-CoV-2 virus with a docking score of –3.094357 Kcal/mol; the docking score showed great binding compared to several other synthetic compounds. Notably, when they were docked against Mpro, such as disulfiram, tideglusib, and shikonin the docking scores were, –46.16 Kcal/mol, –61.79 Kcal/ mol, and –17.35 Kcal/mol, respectively.[5]

Andrographolide also showed a great binding score compared to the recently proposed combination of three drugs namely, lopinavir, oseltamivir, and ritonavir whose binding scores were –4.1Kcal/mol, –4.65 Kcal/mol, and –5.11 Kcal/mol, respectively. In this connection it is worth mentioning, kaempferol, quercetin, dimethoxy curcumin, curcumin, catechin, and zingerol are some of the phytochemicals obtained from other plants, were studied to inhibit the main protease of SARS-CoV-2; however, each of those failed to prove their binding score when compared with the Andrographolide.[6]

Moreover, the proposed inhibitor of Mpro, such as PRD_002214 has a docking score of –10.466 Kcal/mol (Bouchentof & Missoum, 2020), which proclaims that Andrographolide has better inhibiting properties against the SARS-CoV-2 virus than that of the many other proposed inhibitors.[7]

Proven Natural Resources Help You Boosting Immunity to Fight against SARS-CoV-2

In Indian traditional medicine, Ayurveda and Rasayanasdravyas are known for their immunomodulation and rejuvenation properties, which may be important in the prevention and management of Covid-19. Clinically, immunomodulatory drugs can be classified into Immunoadjuvant (enhancement of vaccine efficacy), Immunostimulants (enhancements of body’s immunity through innate as well as adaptive immune responses), and Immunosuppressants (suppress the immune system in organ transplant and autoimmune diseases).

In Ayurveda, Acharya Charaka explained the concept of epidemic condition in Janapadodhwans Adhayay, and combating of these diseases is to be done by Rasayana Chikitsa (immune-modulators therapy) by health promotion, immune-modulation, and prevention and reduction of the disease burden from COVID-19. Till date, many of the Rasayana drugs claimed for their immunomodulatory effects via modulation of cytokine secretion, histamine release, immunoglobulin secretion, lymphocyte secretions and phagocytosis, and so on.[8] The coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 mainly alters the immune regulatory mechanism by two-phase and damage immune homeostasis:

Defense phase:

The defense phase is started when the Aerosolized uptake of SARS-CoV-2 enters in lungs and leads to the infection of ACE2 expressing target cells such as alveolar type 2 cells. This phase generates antibody-secreting cells, helper T-cells and activated CD4, and CD8 T-cells that bind to SARS-CoV-2. Innate immune response against viral infection relies on the interferon (IFN) type I and control replication of the virus. SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 share the same cell receptor in the human entry as angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2).[9]

Damage phase:

This phase leads to uncontrolled release of cytokine that causes cytokine release syndrome (CRS), or ‘cytokine storm’ characterized by increasing Interleukin-2 (IL-2), Interleukin-7 (IL-7), IFN-gamma, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha4, etc. Cytokine release syndrome (CRS) damages the tissues of the lungs, kidney, and heart that in the future lead to severe complications like acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), respiratory failure, and death.[9]

Related article: Mutations in Coronavirus will Continue, Why Vaccine then?

India has the exclusive distinction of its own recognized traditional medicine; Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH). These systems are the definite medical and pharmacological modalities based on natural products obtained from plants.

AYUSH Formulations from Andrographis paniculata Extract Act as Potent Immune Booster

Kabasura kudineer and Nilavembu kudineer, two AYUSH drugs prepared from Andrographis paniculata extract, has shown to be very promising according to the recently performed clinical studies and clinical trials. Both the formulations act as immunomodulators and exhibit potent activities including antiviral, anti-allergic, antiasthmatic, anti-inflammatory. Also, they are well-proven as very effective medications for the treatment of respiratory disorders as well as COVID-19-related cases.

The combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, the most commonly used medication for the treatment of COVID-19, brings adverse side effects to the patients that are very alarming. The same version is also applicable for other COVID-related synthetic drugs. On the other hand, the above-mentioned natural product-based formulations are much safer due to having no or minimal side effects, though almost equally effective in fighting against SARS-CoV-2.

Related article: Industrial Chemical Exposure to Maternal Sample

Under the tough pandemic situation when everyone is searching for potent immunity boosters, the easily accessible natural remedy like Andrographis paniculata extract has already proved its efficiency; it is much worthy to adopt it avoiding synthetic immune boosters.


References:

  1. The conservation of medicinal plants, Cambridge University Press; pp 25-51 (1991).
  2. Iain Davidson-Hunt, Ecological Ethnobotany: Stumbling Toward New Practices and Paradigms. MASA Journal, 1-13 (2000).
  3. D. J. Newman and G. M. Cragg, J. Nat. Prod., 83, 770–803 (2020); DOI: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.9b01285
  4. A. Okhuarobo, et. al., Asian Pac. J. Trop. Dis., 4, 213-222 (2014); DOI: 10.1016/S2222-1808(14)60509-0
  5. Z. Jin, et. al., Nature, 582, 289–293 (2020); DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2223-y
  6. S. Khaerunnisa, et. al., Preprints, 2020030226 (2020); DOI: 10.20944/preprints202003.0226.v1
  7. S. K. Enmozhia, et. al., J. Biomol. Struct. Dyn., 1-7 (2020); DOI: 10.1080/07391102.2020.1760136.
  8. P. V. Kumar, et. al., Indian J Exp. Biol., 37, 23 (1999).
  9. S. Ahmad, et. al., Front. Pharmacol., 11, Article 578970 (2021); DOI: 10.3389/fphar.2020.578970
Dr. M. Debnath
Dr. Manojit Debnath
Assistant Professor at Panskura Banamali College | + posts

Dr. Manojit Debnath is the Assistant Professor and HOD, Department of Botany, Panskura Banamali College (Autonomous), Panskura, Purba Medinipur-721152.

Earlier he served as CSIR-Pool  Scientist in CSIR- National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow. He is the recipient of SERB, (DST), India Young Scientist Award, DST ITS award, and Young Researcher travel award from International Phycological Society, USA. He is also a member of the Biodiversity Management Committee and Coordinator of the People's Biodiversity Register, Panskura.

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