Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
Are there any health reasons that one should not take andrographis for colds?
A: No significant adverse effects have been reported in human studies of andrographis. In one study, researchers tracked participant reports of side effects, in addition to monitoring lab tests for liver function, complete blood counts, kidney function, and some other laboratory measures of toxicity. All of their tests were within the normal limits.
However, full formal safety studies have not been completed. This means that the herb is not recommended for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease.
There are some concerns, stemming from animal studies, that andrographis may impair fertility. One study showed that male rats became infertile when fed 20 mg of andrographis per day. In this case, the rats stopped producing sperm and exhibited physical changes in some of the testicular cells involved in sperm production. These animal studies are somewhat worrisome and warrant further investigation.
Also, because andrographis may stimulate gallbladder contraction, it should not be used by individuals with gallbladder disease except under physician supervision.
You may also try these specially formulated Traditions of Tao products for cold treatment and prevention: “Cold & Flu”, “Immunity”, “Perpetual Shield” and “Chest Congestion”. Of course, discuss with your physician before beginning any new health regime.