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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

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Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Natural Way to Fight the Flu

[This is a reprint from the Health Sciences Institute at http://www.hsibaltimore.com.]

On the heels of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the East was rocked again in 1919 with the Indian flu epidemic that spread as far as Europe. Although largely forgotten in the wake of the famously deadly flu of the year before, the Indian flu is unique in that an herbal remedy - andrographis paniculata - is credited with halting its spread.
Extract of andrographis has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) therapies and Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat common colds and influenza. Last year, researchers at the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth in the UK conducted a review of seven different andrographis trials with very promising results.

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Seven up
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The UK teams conducted a survey of medical databases, herbal manufacturer information and World Health Organization reports to select seven studies that met the criteria for double-blind, controlled trials. The combined studies tested the use of andrographis as a treatment for respiratory tract infection in nearly 900 subjects.

As reported in the journal Planta Medica, researchers analyzed three studies that tested doses of 48 to 60 mg of andrographis per day against placebo. Three other studies examined 60 mg of andrographis per day along with a daily dose of Siberian ginseng versus placebo. And the seventh trial had subjects taking 180 and 360 mg of crude andrographis (as opposed to standardized extracts in the other six studies), measured against a medication for common colds.

In all seven of these studies, subjects who took andrographis after the onset of cold symptoms reported faster recovery, compared to subjects who took placebo or medication.

Researchers concluded that andrographis may be effective in treating "uncomplicated" infection in the upper respiratory tract (throat, sinuses and ears). Adverse effects were described as "mild and infrequent." They also noted that preliminary evidence indicated a possible preventive effect, but further studies will be needed to confirm that.

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Enzyme protection
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In addition to the seven studies mentioned in the UK research, previous laboratory trials have shown that andrographis extract doesn't actually kill the organisms that make you sick - at least not directly. Instead, it boosts your immune system and stimulates natural antibodies.

Your body creates some very powerful disease-fighting enzymes. But if you become ill easily or don't recover quickly from colds and the flu, the production of these antioxidant enzymes may be compromised. Andrographis protects enzymes, enhancing natural disease-fighting abilities.

But andrographis may eventually prove to do more than just bolster disease-fighting enzymes. Here are some results from trials with lab animals:

Research with dogs showed that andrographis may help prevent myocardial ischemia (inadequate blood circulation in the heart caused by coronary artery disease)
A similar study found that andrographis may inhibit the formation of blood clots
Diabetic animals treated with andrographis developed lower blood sugar levels
Andrographis lowered systolic blood pressure in lab rats bred to be spontaneously hypertensive
Andrographis preserved liver function in mice that were given drugs to impair liver function
The potential of andrographis to influence these conditions in humans isn't yet known.

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Northern latitudes
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In the December 2001 Member Alert, we told you about Kan Jang, a brand of standardized extract of andrographis that has outsold all other cold medications in Scandinavia for well over a decade. Kan Jang is formulated by scientists at the Swedish Herbal Institute. They recommend one tablet four times daily to fight colds or the flu. Extracts are standardized to 11.2 mg andrographolides per 200 mg of extract.

Extensive human trials of Kan Jang have only measured the product's impact on cold symptoms and occurrences. And even though those trials didn't identify any adverse side effects, you should consult with your doctor or health care practitioner before supplementing with Kan Jang, especially if you suffer from high or low blood pressure, a blood-sugar disorder, or vascular problems. The American Herbal Products Association also suggests that pregnant or nursing women avoid using Kan Jang.

Kan Jang can be purchased at dietary supplement stores and through Internet sites.

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