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Andrographis to fight COVID infection?

Andrographis leaves and capsules
Recent reports about Thailand’s government using Andrographis paniculata in people with COVID infections have put the botanical back on the radar.

As the COVID pandemic accelerated through 2020, interest also rose in traditional remedies for viral infections, in hopes that they may have application in addressing the SARS-COV-2 virus. Researchers from universities in the UK and Brazil in September 2020 published a piece in Frontiers in Pharmacology reviewing 39 such medicinal plants. Among those explored was green chiretta (Andrographis paniculata), for which the team concluded more evidence was needed to assess its benefits and safety in this situation, but could have promise.

At the end of last year, Thailand’s health ministry approved the use of green chiretta—known as Fah Talai Jone in Thai—to treat early stages of COVID-19 infection. Initially, the treatment was available in state-owned hospitals, but was then trialled in the country’s prison system. More than 11,000 inmates with mild symptoms received the herbal remedy, with a 99% recovery rate. This resulted in the approval by the Thai cabinet to use green chiretta in treating asymptomatic COVID-19 cases.

In August, Somsak Thepsuthin, minister of justice, ordered prisons around the country to cultivate the plant. Sky News recently reported that around 140 jails are on board, with the goal of producing 38 million green chiretta tablets by November. Studies are underway on the use of Andrographis to treat mild symptoms of COVID-19, and are expected early next year.

Natural Remedies is the sponsor of Andrographis in the American Botanical Council’s ‘Adopt an Herb’ program, and produces AP-Bio®, a clinically tested branded ingredient from the herb. Abey Thomas, head of global marketing with Natural Remedies, commented that the company has not seen any particular challenges in the raw material supply chain for Andrographis paniculata nor pricing spikes. However, the company has invested in its supply chain and clinical research on its branded ingredient, which Thomas notes can give added confidence to ingredient buyers. He commented: “Years of research on this herb led us to develop standardization methods that we've contributed to global pharmacopeias. Once we have established the methods, we ensure that we can sustainably source the herb. Extensive pre-clinical studies were conducted on the extract to determine its immune health properties, and finally, this was validated in three clinical studies. … AP-Bio is sustainably sourced and has a faster onset of action in providing relief from cold and flu symptoms and strengthening immunity. The rigor in these processes assures formulators of the quality and efficacy of AP-Bio.”

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