The annual herbaceous plant Andrographis paniculata, often called creat, green chiretta, or king of bitter is a member of the Acanthaceae family. It is indigenous to Sri Lanka and India.
It is also known as serpentina in the Philippines – not to be confused with the Indian snakeroot plant, which has the scientific name of, Rauvolfia serpentina.
It is commonly farmed in Southern and Southeast Asia. It is said to be effective against various illnesses and bacterial infections. For these uses, the plant’s entire body has occasionally been used; however, the leaves and roots are typically used.
In damp, shaded areas, the plant grows as an upright herb that can reach heights of 30-110 cm (12-43 in). The thin stem has wings at the angles and is square in cross-section. It is dark green. The hairless blades on the lance-shaped leaves can reach lengths of up to 8 cm (3.1 in) by 2.5 cm (0.98 in).
Its tiny, pink flowers are solitary, spread lazily in racemes or panicles, and are petite and solitary. The fruit is a small, yellow-brown capsule around 2 cm (0.79 in) long and a few microns wide. The seeds are glabrous, rugose, and subquadrate. Its flowers bloom from September through December.
The species is found in tropical Asian nations, frequently in sparse areas. It inhabits various environments, including plains, hillsides, beaches, and disturbed and cultivated regions like farms and roadside riparian zones. A. Paniculata’s indigenous populations are widely distributed in Sri Lanka and south India, which may be the origin and diversity of the species.
The herb is an introduced species in the West Indies, Indonesia, Malaysia, northern India, and other parts of the Americas. In addition to these Asian countries, where it may or may not be native, it is also found in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand, Brunei, and Singapore.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the plant as Low Risk or Least Concern. In India, the plant is typically traded between 2,000 and 5,000 tonnes under the name Kalmegh.
Serpentina scientific name
The scientific name for the serpentina plant is Andrographis paniculata.
The serpentina plant’s leaves are around 1.5-7 cm long and 1-2.5 cm wide, ovate-lanceolate, between egg-shaped and lance-shaped, lanceolate or narrowly oval.
How to grow serpentina plant
The plant enjoys an environment that is hot, muggy, and sunny. When fully grown, Andrographis grows to a height of 1 to 3 feet. Ninety days after planting, little white blooms with purple dots bloom. Flower deadheading promotes a second crop. The plant releases many seeds for the crop the following year if the last blossoms are left on the plant in the fall.
- When there is no longer any threat of frost in the late spring, make a bed for Andrographis. The plant may flourish in any soil if there is enough moisture.
- Breaking up large boulders and soil clumps as you double-dig the bed. Add a 3- to 4-inch layer of organic compost to the soil and stir it.
- Overnight soak the Andrographis seeds. Plant the seeds 6 to 8 inches apart and 2 inches deep. Until the seedlings have emerged, gently water the soil and maintain an even moisture level, which should take five to seven days.
- Around the seedlings, apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch, taking care not to encircle the plants.
- When the plants are established, thin Andrographis to 12 to 18 inches apart, discarding the weakest seedlings.
- Once the sprouts grow, water less frequently, just watering when the soil’s surface starts to feel dry.
- Whenever weeds appear, manually remove them. Andrographis faces competition with weeds for moisture and nutrients. About three to five months after planting, flowers begin to bloom.
- If you’re planting it in a pot, a 5″ pot will suffice.
- Watering – After thoroughly wetting the root ball, wait for the substrate to dry out on the surface before watering again. Although these plants are water hogs, you shouldn’t drown their roots either. Because stagnant water in the armpit of the leaves fosters cryptogamic infections, constantly water the plant from the base and avoid misting it; put bowls of water around (above radiators, for instance) if your environment is dry so that evaporation will humidify the air.
- Indoor planting – A true houseplant, place it in a warm, sunny location like a porch or under a window; they thrive in direct sunlight.
- Pruning – This plant will branch out if you prune it, which is easy.
- Fertilizer – We suggest you repot your plants frequently (twice a year) rather than adding fertilizer because these plants are cultivated naturally, without using chemical fertilizers.
- Pests – The easiest way to manage pests attacking your plants, such as aphids or other insects, is by hand. Change the soil around your plants, take out as many pests as you can by hand, and then give them enough watering to flush out any prospective eggs. Spray them with diluted liquid black soap. Several times, separated by a few days, repeat the surgery. Bring them outside in nice weather because most aggressors will die from the rain, sun, and wind.
Although there is interest in using Andrographis for various conditions, there is not enough credible data to determine whether it will be beneficial.
It is used to lower blood sugar, inflammation, high blood pressure, and fever in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. Other uses of the serpentina plants include:
- Common cold. Some persons with the common cold seem to experience less coughing and sore throat when taking Andrographis orally or in conjunction with other herbal products. It’s unclear if Andrographis aids in cold prevention.
- Osteoarthritis. People with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis who take Andrographis extract orally daily report less pain and stiffness.
- Tonsils and throat infections. The effectiveness of Andrographis oral suspension in lowering fever and pain associated with tonsillitis is comparable to that of Tylenol.
- Ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is a kind of inflammatory bowel condition. For eight weeks, taking Andrographis extract orally lowers ulcerative colitis symptoms and mesalamine.
Serpentina side effects
In human studies, Andrographis has rarely been linked to minor side effects; nonetheless, a small number of occurrences of urticaria have been documented. Urticaria is a skin reaction characterized by abrupt wheals, bumps, and intense itching.
High dosages of Andrographis may result in nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
You should be cautious when taking Andrographis with any of the following medications because Andrographis could interact with them.
- insulin/oral hypoglycaemic agents.