Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
I have been hearing a lot about andrographis; is it a promising treatment for colds?
A: According to a few well-designed studies, andrographis can reduce the symptoms of colds and possibly prevent colds as well. The greatest improvement in symptoms has been seen in earaches, sleeplessness, nasal drainage, and sore throat.
According to one study, andrographis may actually increase resistance to colds. A total of 107 students participated in a 3-month trial that used a dried extract of andrographis. Fifty-four of the participants took two tablets of andrographolide daily. The other 53 students were given placebo tablets with a coating identical to the treatment. Then, once a week throughout the study, a clinician evaluated all the participants for cold symptoms.
By the end of the trial, only 16 people in the group using andrographis had experienced colds, compared to 33 of the placebo-group participants. This difference was statistically significant, indicating that andrographis reduces the risk of catching a cold by a factor of two as compared to placebo.