Thailand approves the herb andrographis for early stage COVID-19

Thailand’s health ministry has made this surprising herb the first herb to be approved for treating COVID-19.

As cases of COVID continue to increase in Thailand, the ministry of health has approved the herb andrographis for the treatment of early stage COVID-19 with mild respiratory symptoms like cough runny nose and sore throat.

According to reporting by Bloomberg, andrographis is approved for treatment for people between the ages of 18 and 60 and will be given on a voluntary basis. Bloomberg reports that Thailand based its approval on human trials that showed that patients’ condition improved within 3 days when taking andrographis without side effects. They say that the herb should be taken within 72 hours of testing positive.

Though we have been unable to locate a published version of the study the Thai government seems to have based its approval on in any journal, we did find a Thai study that screened 122 herbs used in Thailand for activity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.  The study identified four herbs that had potential activity against the virus. One of them was andrographis extract, which had moderate inhibitory activity.

We also found a report in the Thai media that described a clinical trial conducted by the Faculty of Medicine of Siriraj hospital, the Chulabhorn Research Institute, the Medical Science Department, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization and the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine (DTAM). The trial found andrographis extract to be effective at improving the condition of COVID patients. The researchers report that andrographis led to improvement in conditions in people who tested positive within 72 hours of developing symptoms. All of them started showing signs of improvement on the third day of treatment with andrographis. Symptoms that improved without complications, include cough, sore throat, muscle pains, headache and runny nose.

The researchers say that, according to lab tests, although andrographis cannot prevent cells from being infected, it is effective at killing the virus and preventing it from multiplying.

Why would the researchers consider testing andrographis? Because extensive research has proven its efficacy against acute respiratory infections.

Andrographis fights colds and sinusitis better than placebo (Phytother Res 1995;9:559-62; Phytomed 1996;3:315-18; Phytomed 2010;17:178-85). Fast acting and effective, andrographis significantly improves runny nose and sore throat in only 2 days. Cough, headache, ear ache and fatigue are significantly improved in 4 (Phytomed 1999;6:217-23).

Andrographis not only treats but also prevents colds. When children took andrographis or placebo for 3 winter months, the ones on the herb had a 2.1 lower risk of catching a cold (Phytomed 1997;4:101-4).

In the most recent double-blind study, andrographis reduced cold intensity scores by 11.2 points versus 6.3 points on placebo. Significantly more people on andrographis were significantly or completely better after 5 days. After 10 days, 90.4% of the andrographis group, but only 21.2% of the placebo group was clinically cured (Altern Ther Health Med 2018;24(2):16-26).

A combination of andrographis and eleuthero has been shown to outperform a placebo in the treatment of colds, sinusitis, laryngitis and bronchitis (Phytomed 2002;9:598-605).

Most impressively, a massive systematic review of 33 controlled studies has demonstrated the power of andrographis over acute respiratory infections, including, amongst others, cold, flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, laryngitis and tonsillitis. Meta-analysis of 4 studies concluded that andrographis is significantly better than placebo. Meta-analysis of 12 studies concluded that andrographis is significantly better than drugs for all symptoms but cough. Meta-analysis of 6 studies concluded that andrographis + drugs is significantly better than drugs alone (PLoS One 2017;12(8):e0181780).

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For more on andrographis, see our book Healthy Herbs: Your Everyday Guide to Medicinal Herbs and Their Use.

For comprehensive herbal help for health, make an appointment to see Linda Woolven nowLinda’s clinic is now open for virtual appointments.


The Natural Path is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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