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bhunimba - Andrographis paniculata Nees

bhunimba :

Flowering plant, growing amongst weeds in Thailand Photograph by: Tony Rodd Andrographis paniculata (Burm. f.) Wall. ex Nees (AP) is an important medicinal plant and widely used around the world. It belongs to the family Acanthaceae. AP is used as a traditional herbal medicine in Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand  and is ethnobotanically used for the treatment of snake bite, bug bite, diabetes, dysentery, fever, and malaria. In the Unani and Ayurvedic medicines, AP is one of the mostly used medicinal plants 


In Vedakala references are not available, but in Samhitha kala references are told in the context of grahani dosha chikitsa adhyaya of Charaka, kushta chikitsa of Sushrutha, prameha chikitsa of Astanga hrudaya. In Nighantukala references are available in the Adarsha nighantu & Priya nighantu

Taxonomical Classification

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Family: Acanthaceae
Genus: Andrographis
Species: Andrographis paniculata

Allied species:

Andrographis paniculata var. glandulosa Nees
Justicia latebrosa Russell ex Wall.


Sanskrit: Kalmegha, Bhunimba
English: king of bitters, chiretta , Kariyat, Creat
Hindi: Kirayat, Kalpanath •
Urdu: Naine-havandi
Telugu: Nilavembu
Bengali: কলমেঘ Kalmegh
Marathi: Oli-kiryata, Kalpa
Konkani: Vhadlem Kiratyem
Oriya: Bhuinimba
Gujarathi: Kariyatu
Tamil: நீலவெம்பு Nilavembu
Malayalam: Nelavepu, Kiriyattu •
Kannada: Nelaberu
Punjabi: Chooraita
Arabic: qasabhuva, qasabuzzarirah, qazabuzzarirah
Assamese: কলমেঘ Kalmegh
Japanese: Andorogurafizu paniikuraata, Senshinren.
Chinese: Chuan Xin Lian
Deccan: Charayetah, Kalaphnath.
French: La chirette verte, de
Burma: Say gah gyi, Nga yoke gah.
Persian: naine-havandi, nainehavandi
Sinhalese: :Hinbinkohomba, Ninbinko- homba.


AdarshaNighantu- Vasadivarga
PriyaNighantu - Shatapushpadivarga


The word Kalamegha is derived from “Vangeeya Sampradaya”(Bengali vernacular nomenclature). From distance, it appears like a black cloud in the blue sky . Hence, it is called as Kalamegha


Synonyms in Ayurveda: kalamegh, kirta


Rasa: Tikta
Guna: Laghu Ruksha
Veerya: Ushna
Vipaka: Katu
Karma: Kaphahara Pittahara

is ethnobotanically used for the treatment of snake bite, bug bite, diabetes, dysentery, fever, and malaria. The aerial part of AP is most commonly used; its extracts contain diterpenoids, diterpene glycosides, lactones, flavonoids, and flavonoid glycosides. Whole plant leaves and roots are also used as a folklore remedy for different diseases in Asia and Europe 


A plant of the tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,600 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 30°c, but can tolerate 14 - 38°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,000 - 3,000mm, but tolerates 1,500 - 4,000mm
Prefers a position in light shade, but can tolerate deeper shade and sunnier positions
The plant has escaped from cultivation and become naturalized in many areas of the tropics
In shading experiments, the optimal proved to be 20% shade with average dry-matter production of 13.2 g per 5-month-old plant


Seed - should be soaked for 24 hours and then dried before being sown. Germination starts after 1 week and the mean germination rate is about 80%.
Cuttings consisting of 3 nodes taken from the upper third of 1-year-old plants have given the best results in vegetative propagation, with 80-90% rooting


The leaves should be harvested when the inflorescence axis starts to grow, because the maximum accumulation of andrographolide is at that stage
The roots are harvested when leaves start discolouring or wilting
Yields of 1 - 1.5 kg fresh weight/plant are obtained from 7-month-old plants
In general, the herb is used fresh and consumed within a few days after collection]. However, leaves and roots should be washed and dried in the sun or artificially before storage


Contains diterpene lactones, glycosides, b-sitosterol-d-glucoside, and flavanoids.
•The active constituent of the extract is andrographolide.
• Study of aerial parts isolated five labdane diterpenes, 14-deoxy-12-hydroxyandrographolide, 14-deoxy-11,12-didehydroandrographolide, 14-deoxyandrographolide, andrographolide, and neoandrographolide. 
• Phytochemical screening yielded various secondary metabolites likes steroids, alkaloids, phenols, catechine, flavonoids, saponins, and tannins. GC-MS analysis of powdered plant sample yielded 13 different phytochemical compounds, viz., 1,1,3-tryethoxy-propane, teradecanoic acid, 3,7,11,15-tetramethyl-2-hexadecen-1-ol, n-hexadecanoic acid, 9,12-octadecadienoyl chloride (Z,Z)-, phytol, 9,12-octanecadienoic acid (Z,Z), 9,12,15-octadecatrienoic acid (Z,Z,Z) 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid, diisoctyl ester, squalene, retinoic acid methyl ester, androstan-17-one, 2-ethyl-3-hydroxy, (5α) and ß-sitosterol.


Studies have shown cardioprotective, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, anticancer, antidengue, antivenom, antidiabetic, larvicidal, renoprotective properties. 

Parts used for medicinal purpose

Whole plant, ,


Churna   1-3 gms
Swarasa - 5-10 ml
Kwatha  20-40 ml


- is a specific antidote to snake venom actions


Bhunimba is accepted as a synonym of kiratatikta (chirayita – Swertia species)
and Andrographis paniculata which is sold in the market as its substitute or adulterant or by the name of Deshi-chirayita and kalamegha also. 


Andrographis echioides Nees. where in andrographolide is not present


According to Bapalal Vaidya, while explaining the controversy of Kalamegha, the Green variety like Chirayata was found in Gujarat which is known as Kalamegha . Bhunimba is accepted as a synonym of kiratatikta (chirayita – Swertia species) and Andrographis paniculata which is sold in the market as its substitute or adulterant or by the name of Deshi-chirayita and kalamegha also. Andrographis paniculata is locally known as bhunimba in Madhya Pradesh and bhunimo in Orissa. In high himalayan regions so called kiratatikta is Swertiachirayita;here other bitter species of swertia are also used as Kiratatikta,but commonly called as Deshi chirayita is Kalmegha.

Commercial value:

Andrographis paniculata Wall (family Acanthaceae) is one of the most popular medicinal plants used traditionally for the treatment of array of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, ulcer, leprosy, bronchitis, skin diseases, flatulence, colic, influenza, dysentery, dyspepsia and malaria for centuries 


A. paniculata is an annual profusely branched, erect herb extremely bitter in taste. It grows to a height of 30-110 cm in moist shady places with glabrous leaves and white flowers with rose purple spots on the petal. The stem dark green, 0.4-1.0 m in height, 2-6 mm in diameter, quadrangular with longitudinal furrows  and  wings  on  the angles  of  the  younger parts, slightly enlarged at the nodes; leaves glabrous, up to 8.0 cm long and 2.6 cm  broad,  lanceolate, pinnate;  flowers  small  and  solitary,  corolla  whitish  or  light  pink  in  color  with  hairs,  in  lax spreading axillary and terminal racemes or icles; capsules linear-oblong, acute at both ends, 1.9-0.3 cm; seeds numerous, subquadrate, yellowish brown.  


Transverse sections (hand sections) of the stem from the basal region (5.0 to 6.0 cm from base at maturity) and root (4.0 to 4.5 cm below base at maturity) were made  From fully matured plants (at fruit ripening stage; 110-125 days from sowing), and the sections were double stained using 1.0% Safranine (Merck, AR) dissolved in 50.0% alcohol and 1.0% Light green (Merck, AR) dissolved in 90.0% alcohol

Stem : Tetrangular in outline; angles shortly winged with projections consisting of 1 cell layer epidermis and groups of parenchymatous cells within; shallow between ridges; thin walled compactly arranged cells cover with thin cuticle and associated with glandular hairs outside; hypodermis 2 to 5 cell layer thick, often variable in the shallow region; cells more or less rounded to polygonal, equal or larger than epidermal cells, thin, compactly arranged, containing chlorophylls; cortical layers variable, 5 to 6 cell layer thick, up to 10 below the shallow area, rounded, thin walled, compact, parenchymatous without any contents; stele amphipholic siphonostele occupying maximum part of the stem, more spreading to the ridge area; a few sclerenchymatous cell groups of 2 to 4 or even solitary throughout the periphery of the vascular bundles; outer phloem thin layered, inner phloem mostly in patches; xylem interrupted with medullary rays; pith parenchymatous, cells polygonal to rounded, larger in size, thick walled, compactly arranged, without any content.
Root : Secondary growth visible; epiblema not distinct replaced by cork layer, differentiated into 3 distinct zones; peripheral cell layer loosely arranged, inner cells smaller, compactly arranged; stele occupying the maximum part of the root being the secondary growth; xylem and ray cells in distinct rows, primary vascular bundle crushed; pith insignificant having few parenchymatous smaller cells.

Geographical distribution:

A. paniculata is native to Taiwan, Mainland China, and India. It is also commonly found in the tropical and subtropical Asia, Southeast Asia, and some other countries including Cambodia, Caribbean islands, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam . This plant is also found in different phytogeographical and edaphic zones of China, America, West Indies, and Christmas Island


Village groves, roadsides, waste places, open sandy locations and fields, but also in monsoon and teak forest receiving only 10-20% of full light, at elevations from sea level to 1,600 metres

Plant conservation:

: Low Risk-Least Concerned

General Use:

Natural and Alternative Remedies for Liver
Fatty Liver disease
Liver cirrhosis
Liver cancer
Helps in detoxification of liver
Various types of liver diseases

Therapeutic Uses:

Indicated in Jwara, Krimi, Kushta and Yakrutroga

Systemic Use:

Extremely bitter and cooling.
• Antidiarrheal, antipyretic, anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial. 
• Stomachic, febrifuge.
• Antityphoid, antifungal, antimalarial, antihepatotoxic.
• Anti-cancer.
• Tonic and immune-boosting.
• Studies have shown cardioprotective, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, anticancer, antidengue, antivenom, antidiabetic, larvicidal, renoprotective properties. 




Important formulations 
  1. Bhunimbadi Churna
  2. MahaTiktaka Ghrita
  3. Tiktaka ghrita
  4. Rodrasava
  5. Manasamitravatakam

Clinical trials:

1. A phase I clinical study of fixed combination Kan Jang? versus ginseng and valerian on the semen quality of healthy male subjects / A.MKRTCHYAN / Phytomedicine, Volume 12, Issue 6, Pages 403-409

2. Studies on antivenom activity of Andrographis paniculata and Aristolochia indica plant extracts against Daboia russelli venom by in vivo and in vitro methods / S Meenatchisundaram et al / Indian Journal of Science and Technology/ Vol.2 No 4 (Mar. 2009) / 

3. Antinociceptive and Antiedematogenic Activities of Andrographolide Isolated From Andrographis paniculata in Animal Models / M R Sulaiman et al / Biological Research For Nursing, Vol. 11, No. 3, 293-301 (2010) • DOI: 10.1177/1099800409343311/ 

4. Andrographis paniculata in the Treatment of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections: A Systematic Review of Safety and Efficacy / Joanna Thompson



2. Cardioprotective Effects of the Ethanol Leaf Extract of Andrographis Paniculata in Isoproterenol-induced Myocardial Infarction in Rats / Adeolu Alex Adedapo, Bisi Olajumoke Adeoye, Ademola Adetokunbo Oyagbemi, Temidayo Olutayo Omobowale, Momoh Audu Yakubu / FASEB Journal, 31(12), Dec 2017

3. Prophylactic effect of Andrographis paniculata extracts against fungal species / G.Rajalakshmi*, D.Aruna, B. Bhuvaneswari, R.S. Venkatesan, A.Natarajan, K. Jegatheesan / Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science Vol. 2 (9), pp. 058-060, September 2012 / DOI: 10.7324/JAPS.2012.2912

4. Harnessing the medicinal properties of Andrographis paniculata for diseases and beyond: a review of its phytochemistry and pharmacology / Abgonhahor Okhuarobo, Joyce Ehizogie Falodun, Osayemwenre Erharuyi, Vincent Imieje, Abiodun Falodun, and Peter Langer / Asian Pac. J Trop Dis. 2014 Jun; 4(3): 213-222 / doi:  10.1016/S2222-1808(14)60509-0


Infants and children: Andrographis is POSSIBLY SAFE in children when taken by mouth, short-term. Andrographis has been used in combination with other herbs for up to one month.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Andrographis is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. There is a concern that it might cause miscarriages. Not enough is known about the safety of andrographis during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side, and avoid using andrographis if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Fertility problems: Animal research suggests that andrographis might interfere with reproduction, but this hasn’t been shown in people. Nevertheless, if you are having trouble fathering a child or getting pregnant, it’s best not to use andrographis.

“Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Andrographis might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using andrographis.

Bleeding conditions: Andrographis might slow blood clotting. This might increase the risk of bleeding or bruising in people with bleeding disorders.

Low blood pressure: Research suggests that andrographis might lower blood pressure. This has not been seen in humans. In theory, however, andrographis might lower pressure too much if taken by people who already have low blood pressure.

Toxicity studies:

Andrographis is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately, short-term. It also appears to be safe when taken as a specific combination product containing andrographis extract and Siberian ginseng (Kan Jang, Swedish Herbal Institute) for up to 3 months.

Andrographis can cause side effects such as loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, headache, runny nose, and fatigue.

When used in high doses or long-term, andrographis might cause swollen lymph glands, serious allergic reactions, elevations of liver enzymes, and other side effects.

Use in other system of medicine:

- Used for fever and liver ailments.
- Used for diarrhea.
- Abortifacient.
- Extensively used in Ayurvedic medicine, found in 26 Ayurvedic formulations to treat liver disorders.
- Called "Indian echinacea" for its use in the prevention and treatment of the common cold.
- In Traditional Chinese Medicine, use for fevers and to remove toxins from the body.
- In Scandinavian countries, used to prevent and treat common colds.
- In China, India, Thailand and Malaysia, used for treatment of sore throat, flu, upper respiratory tract infections. 
- In India, decoction of powdered herb used for post-partum burning sensation in the palm and foot. Leaf mixed with grounded black pepper used for dysmenorrhea. Roots and stems made into paste, mixed with mothers milk and taken internally for intestinal worm infestation. Powdered herb mixed in oil applied to eczema. Leaf paste used externally for abscesses. Aerial parts used for diabetes


Andrographis paniculata is one of the highly used potential medicinal plants in the world. This plant is traditionally used for the treatment of common cold, diarrhoea, fever due to several infective cause, jaundice, as a health tonic for the liver and cardiovascular health, and as an antioxidant. It is also used to improve sexual dysfunctions and serve as a contraceptive. All parts of this plant are used to extract the active phytochemicals, but the compositions of phytoconstituents widely differ from one part to another and with place, season, and time of harvest. Our extensive data mining of the phytoconstituents revealed more than 55 ent-labdane diterpenoids, 30 flavonoids, 8 quinic acids, 4 xanthones, and 5 rare noriridoids.

Photos of bhunimba -

KEY WORDS: bhunimba Andrographis paniculata Nees

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