- Alternative & Natural Medicine
Healing Properties of the King of Bitters Herb
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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