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Healing Properties of the King of Bitters Herb

Updated on March 6, 2013

Andrographis paniculata

King of Bitters
King of Bitters

Health Benefits of the King of Bitters

Add one more ancient herb to the natural list of medicines used in the U.S. for a variety of health disorders. During the last two decades, the King of Bitters (andrographis paniculata) has become popular in the prevention and treatment of colds and respiratory infections, and has been shown to reduce the symptoms.

The antioxidant compounds in the herb have a beneficial effect on the liver, improves gall bladder function, aids digestion, is used to treat e.coli, and promotes a healthy heart by preventing blood clots and blocked arteries. The King of Bitters has been used for centuries and is known worldwide by other names such as Kalmegh, Green Chireyta, Ganhelian, Kiryat, Fah Tolai, Sambiloto and Bhunimba. The herb has a long history of use throughout Asia.

Andrographis paniculata belongs to the Acanthaceae family of the andrograhis genus. This genus is made up of 28 species, with andrographis paniculata, or the King of Bitters, being the most powerful and one of the few possessing healing properties.

What's so special about the King of Bitter? An amazing history?

Overall, the herb is known to be a powerful immune booster. In recent history, the global flu epidemic of 1919, killed millions in countries all over the world, but India used the prophylatic benefits of the herb and was credited with stopping the epidemic.

Can you describe it?

Andrographis paniculata is an annual herb that can grow erect to the size of a shrub. The height can vary between 30 to 110 cm. The stems are dark green with leaves that are glabrous. The flowers are small and can be white with petals that have rose-purple spots, or white-purple. The flowers will eventually turn into capsule-shaped fruits which will contain yellowish brown seeds. (see photo)

How has it been used?

Ancient and Modern Chinese and Indian medicinal literatue has described andrographis paniculata as an important herbal remedy for a wide variety of diseases. This includes disorders of the urinary, digestive and cardiovascular systems. Andrographis paniculata has also been used to treat fever, upper respiratory infections and sore throat. Herbalists use the herb to eliminate symptoms of malaria, dysentery, and herpes.

Are there any modern benefits?

Research into the benefits of andrographis paniculata has shown it to be useful in the treatment of cancer, HIV/AIDs infections, heart attacks, blood clots, diabetes, fever, flu and cold. Andrographis paniculata has a known reputation in Tribal folklore as one of the best remedies for malaria; it is believed to be a better option than quinine.

How is it prepared?

The active phytochemicals are extracted from the stems and leaves. The main medicinal componet is andrographolide, which is colorless and crystalline in appearance and has a very bitter taste. The herb was originally prepared as a tea, tincture, and fresh juice beverage. The herbs can now be found on the market in capsule and tablet form, and as an extract, gel and ointment.

Before using an unfamiliar herb, it is always advisable to do extensive research and consult a qualified herbalist.

For more information on healing herbs, please see the links below.


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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      hun is such a powerful herb infect I want to call it all round answer to all kind of diseases

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Great information - thank you Brightonbreezy!

    • Brightonbreezy profile image


      6 years ago from Brighton, UK

      Thank you for telling everyone about King of Bitters - I think more people need to know about the great benefits. Every time I have a cold I use andrographis to aid symptoms and it really works. I have found a good online store to buy it from and they tell you hundreds of other good uses for it too!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Used the herbs to cure piles

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're welcome shwetha123. Thanks for commenting!

    • shwetha123 profile image

      Shwetha Shetty 

      7 years ago

      Very Informative. Thanks for sharing

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I'm glad you shared that airdy. Thanks for commenting!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      King of bitters is vry useful to me

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I'm so glad you found the hub worthwhile msorensson! And I have to go back now and see what Hmrjmr1 were talking about. Thanks for commenting.

      You're welcome Lgali! Thanks for writing!

    • Lgali profile image


      8 years ago

      thanks for this useful info.

    • msorensson profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi, BkCreative,

      I laughed when I read your post with Brita by Hmrjmr1...about buying a third term..

      I have never heard of this King of Bitter before today, so thank you. are a fantastic resource for herbal medicine!!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're welcome creativeone59. Seems like this herb may be a good one to have for this cold and flu season coming up.

      Thanks for writing!

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thanlk you Bk, never knew anything about this plant, less on the healing properties. Thank you so much for sharing. Godspeed.creativeone59

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I hope you grow it RTalloni - and then share that information with us. What a super herb this is - there are so many and yet this information is just not forthcoming. And freshly grown has to be the best and healthiest.

      It is pretty now that you mention it InfinityVal. Goodlooking and beneficial. Wow!

      Hope you find it in a product you like Pollyannalana!

      Thanks for the comments.

    • Pollyannalana profile image


      8 years ago from US

      Great info, this will be my next hunt and try!

    • InfinityVal profile image


      8 years ago from NNY

      Thanks for sharing information about a little known herb. Funny how such a pretty plant could be so bitter.

    • RTalloni profile image


      8 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks so much. I've not heard of this in any of its name forms. I'm looking forward to learning more about growing and using it, whether the leaves are dried for tea, etc.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I think you summed it up nicely pmmcray. And thanks for commenting!

    • pmccray profile image


      8 years ago from Utah

      Whoa this is the monster herb. Thank you for the extensive research. I'm going to check this out. Peace my friend.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're welcome Pamela99 - glad you found the history of bitters interesting, too. Thank you for commenting!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This is a very interesting hub. I didn't know anything about the history of bitters before. Thanks.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You know it would be nice to know exactly what is Angostura bitters. I have read that it is a protected secret recipe made up of gentian (an herb from Germany and it seems the creater of this product was originally from Germany), herbs and spices. A must for special drinks and some recipes but originally it was used for medicinal purposes.

      Thanks for making me do this research - it is actually quite interesting!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Hmm. Is this similar to Angostura bitters? That's the stuff you use to make champagne cocktails.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Yes, a super healthy herb. So many of them, Maita. I must find more. Thanks for commenting!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      8 years ago from US

      nice herb, super healthy herb, Nice one again BK, thumbs up, Maita

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks TheListLady - I am so glad we can use a forum like hub pages to share just such information. I'd rather take a risk with an herb than a synthetic drug. I know too many people suffering but they are all under a doctor's care.

      Yes, LivingFood - it makes me think of bitter melon which also has so many benefits - especially for diabetes. It's bitter but I like the bitter taste.

      Thanks for the comments.

    • LivingFood profile image


      8 years ago

      Sounds like a bitter herb with many health benefits. I was always told the worse it tastes, the better it is for you...maybe that was the truth!

    • TheListLady profile image


      8 years ago from New York City

      Wow! Never heard of this one. Sometimes it is embarrassing how far behind we are, or far removed from, safe natural healing. When I think of some of the costs, the risks and serious side effects of synthetic drugs - it's a reminder that profit is the key here, not good health.

      Thanks a lot and rated up!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Your're welcome and I'm so glad you confirmed the use Shalini Kagal. Imagine a natural way to treat jaundice - and it works. I am absolutely overwhelmed with what this one herb can do.

      You're so kind Veronica Allen. You know I enjoy so many of your hubs. And yes, this is just another example of what is not only out there for our benefit - but how far removed we are from all nature has provided. Whew!

      Thanks so much for the comments.

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      I tell you BkCreative, you are just a host of information. I always learn something new from your hubs. This earth holds such an abundance of plants that are so effective in healing and treating our illnesses or conditions. What's so amazing to me though, is the fact that man has only begun to tap into the wonderful resources this wonderful planet of ours has to offer. Cool beans! :)

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      8 years ago from India

      Hi BkCreative - your hubs are so informative! I know we use this herb to treat jaundice but I never knew it was so good for so many other conditions as well! Thank you!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're welcome akirchner. Thanks for commenting!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Great info and never heard of it either! Thanks for sharing with us.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Yes, we do and isn't it so lovely Portamenteff! This sounds so amazing. Stopping a flu epidemic. Wow!

    • Portamenteff profile image


      8 years ago from Western Colorado, USA

      well, you learn something new every day.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      It is kind of bitter Paradise7! I've read that it is the bitter compounds that make the difference. There are so many benefits I could not list them all and it seems to have such a long history, more than centuries but thousands of years. I suspect we will be hearing more about it soon.

      Thanks for commenting!

    • Paradise7 profile image


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      I never heard of this, either. It sounds extremely beneficial. I wonder what it tastes like--"King of Bitters" does NOT sound sweet.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're welcome reddog1027. Glad you found the information informative.

      This one seems to be increasing in popularity HappyHer. Maybe because it has been shown to be beneficial in the case of flu and we are forever reading about - yet another flu epidemic on the way.

      Thanks for the comments.

    • HappyHer profile image

      Tracy Morrow 

      8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      I use herbs quite often and have never heard of this before. I appreciate the new information!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      thanks for an informative hub on a herb I am unfamiliar with.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks for that information travel_man1971 - seems like we insist upon excluding healthy herbs from medicine here in the US. We are still being driven by the synthetic drug industry.

      I'm glad you shared that information GreenGardenGuy. There is nothing like a personal experience. I can share that information with many of my diabetic friends.

      You're welcome Hello, hello. There is so much out there keeping us healthy. I must keep looking.

      Thank you for the comments.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Sounds a great help and thank you for introducing it.

    • GreenGardenGuy profile image


      8 years ago from Fort Myers, FL

      I've been taking this for a couple of years. It's one of the herbs that has helped me to overcome diabetes.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 

      8 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      You're right, BkCreative. It is very popular here in Asia. It is most common in India or even in China.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I'm with you GreenThumbLady and I will see what I can find out here in the City. A lot is sold on the internet in tablet and pill from but I want to go into an authentic herbal shop. And then make a tea.

      Thanks so much for the comment. I'm enjoying your garden hubs by the way!

    • GreenThumbLady profile image


      8 years ago from The Beautiful Earth

      Wow this has a lot of healing qualities! I wonder why we haven't heard much about this? Oh that's right...because pharmaceutical companies would rather sell drugs. Definitely going to look more into this! Sounds like something I should get my hands on!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks theherbivorehippi - I only heard of this herb in the last few months - but it has been used here in the US for decades. Huh? I suspect we have been steered towards capsules but it is always best to look for a tea - at least you can kind of see what you are getting.

      Thanks timorous - it seems to be a miracle herb. I'm going to look for it in tea form. With all the threats of flu and flu epidemics every year - I'd like to have it on hand.

      Thanks for the comments!

    • timorous profile image

      Tim Nichol 

      8 years ago from Me to You

      Wow BK. Never heard of this either. Definitely worth investigating. Thanks.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I did not know about the option to quinine either Natural Remedy. In fact I have to say once I heard about this herb and started researching - I was overwhelmed with information. It's like a miracle herb. Wow! And the preventive benefits are amazing - stopping a pandemic? Wow!

      Thanks for commenting!

    • theherbivorehippi profile image


      8 years ago from Holly, MI

      I have never heard of this! What fabulous information! You know I am always looking for a natural healer! I'm going to link this to a few of my ACV hubs for sure. Super fabulous hub and thanks for the information!! Rated up for sure!!

    • Natural Remedy profile image

      Natural Remedy 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Good information. I didn't know about it as an option to quinine for malaria.


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