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Kalmegh: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, Precautions & More!

By Dr Anuja Bodhare +2 more

Introduction: 

Andrographis paniculata (Burm.f.) Nees is known as kalmegh in Hindi. It is known to be an important native crop of India and Srilanka.1

kalmegh herbs & capsules

Kalmegh is also called ‘BhuiNeem’ as it looks very similar to neem and though smaller, has a bitter taste.2 Kalmegh is an erect herb that grows annually. It is used as a wonder drug in tribal medicine and in Indian Siddha, ayurvedic systems of medicine.2,3  

Properties of Kalmegh

Let me tell introduce you to andrographolide. It is a key active compound found in the Kalmegh plant. It has been studied for its potential in fighting cancer. Numerous research studies have demonstrated that andrographolide may possess anticancer properties.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Kalmegh is an important herb for its benefits for health as it acts by inducing enzymes. The potential beneficial properties of Kalmegh are as follows.

  • It may have immunity building properties
  • It may have antithrombotic properties that may help to reduced the risk of blood clots
  • It may have potential to help with typhoid
  • It may have antimalarial properties
  • It may have antibiotic properties
  • It may have liver protecting properties
  • It may show anti-inflammatory activity.2,4  

Did You Know ?

  • Kalmegh has been used in traditional medicine to treat liver disorders. source: PubMed
  • The active compounds in kalmegh have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects on the respiratory system. source: NCBI
  • Kalmegh extract has shown potential in reducing symptoms of malaria. source: PubMed
  • Studies suggest that kalmegh may have potential anti-cancer properties. source: ncbi

Potential Uses of Kalmegh:

I recently came across an interesting study. It was seen that the water-based extract of Kalmegh might have significant protective effects on the kidneys of male albino rats that were exposed to gentamicin, a nephrotoxic substance. This means that the extract may have the ability to reduce the harmful effects of gentamicin on the kidneys.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Indian systems of medicine, including Ayurveda, have been using the plant for its potential benefits for health since ancient times.1 In countries like China, India and other south-east Asian countries, kalmegh is traditionally used for various health conditions.4   A variety of compounds have been isolated from the plant may be used in medicinal formulations.1    The potential uses of kalmegh and its extracts are:

Potential uses of kalmegh in infections:  

Kalmegh may not be a substitute for antibiotics, but it could have a complementary effect when used along with antibiotics in several infections.  Some infections it may be helpful in are gastrointestinal tract infection, upper respiratory tract infection, throat infections, fever and cold.4 It is however, essential to consult your doctor before taking kalmegh for any infection.1

Potential uses of Kalmegh as an Analgesic & Anti-inflammatory Herb  

Based on some research, I have found that andrographolide, present in Kalmegh, may have the potential in fighting HIV. Scientists created different versions of andrographolide and found that some derivatives were effective against HIV. Further research is needed, but these findings suggest that andrographolide derivatives might be useful in managing HIV.

Dr. Smita Barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.

Kalmegh may act as a pain killer, and it may also reduce swelling and blood loss. The anti-inflammatory action of kalmagh may probably be mediated, in part, by its adrenal function.4  Moreover, for pain and inflammation consult your doctor for relief.

Potential uses of Kalmegh in Improving Digestion  

Kalmegh helps improve digestion due to its laxative properties; it aids in the elimination of faeces. It is also choleretic (helps in improving the properties of bile and causes a substantial increase in the flow of bile) and thus aids in digestion.4  

Potential uses of Kalmegh for Protecting the Liver    

Kalmegh may be effective against liver toxicity by producing a cleaning solvent and inhibiting the production of free radicals that destroy cellular membranes that surround liver cells. Free radicals might cause liver cirrhosis. This can further result in coma and death. Studies have shown that kalmegh may be an effective solution for infective hepatitis treatment. In a study decoction obtained from the kalmegh plant demonstrates cleaning and purifying activity, especially of blood. Thus, it may be used to cure jaundice.  Kalmegh may be helpful for the treatment of fatty liver, and it can reduce the risk of gallstone formation. Thus, it might also aid in fat digestion.2,4 Moreover, for any conditions related to liver you must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor.

Also Read: 7 Signs of Liver Stress

Potential uses of Kalmegh for Cancer Treatment  

Kalmegh is believed to have a cancerolytic effect; it fights and may even kill cancer cells. Extract from kalmegh may have some effect on enhancing immune system functions. Studies show the potential of kalmegh as it activates dual responses making it effective against a variety of infectious and cancer-causing agents. 4

Due to this ability, National Cancer Institute terms kalmegh as a cytotoxic substance. It may also have lesser toxicity than most chemotherapeutic agents. While kalmegh shows potential in treatment for cancer, further research is needed to find which types of cancer respond to it.4  

Potential uses of Kalmegh in Treatment of Ulcers  

Kalmegh extract demonstrated antiulcerogenic activity. It may reduce the development of ulcers as it significantly decreases stomach acidity without any major side effects.4  However more studies are needed to establish its effect on ulcers in humans, consult a doctor to get better advice.

Also Read: 12 Home Remedies for Mouth Ulcers

Potential uses of Kalmegh in Treatment of Filaria  

Kalmegh extracts may be effective in the treatment of filaria, in which there is obstruction of lymph channels leading to gross swelling termed elephantiasis. It may shows no apparent toxic effects.4  Thought the exact effects of kalmegh on filaria are not known, thus you must consult a doctor.

Potential uses of Kalmegh for Treatment of Malaria  

Kalmegh extract comprises of antimalarial substance, which is known to show activity against Plasmodium berghei (malaria-transmitting parasite). Its effects were found to be even better than that of an antimalarial drug. It may control the spread of parasite which causes the spread of malaria, thus being more effective.4  Further studies can establish this effect of kalmegh.

Also Read: 8 Simple Home Remedies for Malaria

Potential uses of Kalmegh for Treatment of Inflammation  

Researches show the anti-inflammatory activity of kalmegh; it was found to inhibit oedema.4    It may also treat chronic inflammation of the colon in combination with prescription drugs.4  Local bacterial infection causes kidney inflammation. Studies have shown kalmegh extracts to be effective in the treatment of this condition, and its performance was found to be comparable to the standard clinical drug used for the treatment.4  You should consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment for such conditions, it may be dangerous to self medicate using herbs without proper information of its impact on your condition.

Potential uses of kalmegh as Thrombolytic & Cardioprotective Substance  

Studies show that kalmegh has the potential to increase the time taken for clot clotting. It, may therefore, reduce the risk of restenosis (closing of blood vessels) observed post angioplasty. Contraction of blood vessels caused by injuries to the inner lining of blood vessels or by high cholesterol in the diet may also be reduced significantly by using kalmegh.4  

Reduced blood supply and oxygen availability to heart muscles may cause the heart tissues to die. Kalmegh was found to stimulate the natural process in the body called fibrinolysis that dissolves blood clots in studies.4  However, such effects need to be proved by further research. Moreover, it is essential to consult a doctor before using kalmegh for any apparent health benefits.

Potential uses of Kalmegh in Brain-related Disorders  

Kamegh may also help in maintaining the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. It may therefore helpful in reducing the occurrence of memory loss, impaired mental performance, dizziness, headaches, depression, and ringing in the ears.4  However, these effects need to be proved by further research and it is essential to consult a doctor before using kalmegh for any benefits.

Though there are studies that show the potential uses of kalmegh in various conditions, but these are insufficient and there is a need of further studies to establish the true extent of benefits of kalmegh on human health.  

Also Read: Karisalankanni – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More

How to Use Kalmegh? 

Every part of the kalmegh plant body may be used to obtain active pharmacological compounds for its benefit.4    

  • Fresh leaves, dried leaves, and juice of the plant as an official drug.1  
  • Traditionally, garlic added to kalmegh leaf powder with buttermilk for jaundice.5  
  • The paste formed by leaves and fresh twigs of the plant.5    

Kindly refer to your doctor for advice, consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.  

Also Read: Kachnar – Uses, Benefits & Nutritional Value

Side Effects of Kalmegh:

When consumed in moderation kalmegh may be safe, but overuse of kalmegh may produce some side effects such as.  

  • Consuming high amounts of kalmegh extract may lead to lethargy and decreased activity.4 
  • Some people may observe allergic reactions from kalmegh, varying from slight skin rashes to a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis due to high dosage.4  
  • Kalmegh may have pregnancy terminating effects and thus can abort the pregnancy.4,6 
  • It shows an antifertility effect as it prevents ovulation and reduces sperm count. Studies have also shown that it inhibits the production of progesterone.4 

In case you experience such side effects you must consult your doctor for help they will prescribe solution as per your condition.

Also Read: Nutmeg – Uses, Benefits & Precautions

Precautions to Take With kalmegh:  

It is advisable that, as a precaution, women may avoid kalmegh usage while they are pregnant.4  The safety of kalmegh in pregnant and breastfeeding women has not been fully studied. Likewise, no research has been done on the safety of kalmegh in children and elderly. Therefore, it should only be taken under the supervision and advice of a physician.

Interactions With Other Drugs:  

There is not much information available on how kalmegh interacts with other medications. Hence, one should consult a doctor before taking barley if they take any other drug or supplement.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) Is kalmegh good for stomach ailments?  

Pills prepared by mixing juice obtained from the leaves of the kalmegh plant and spices (cardamom, clove and cinnamon) are prescribed to relieve infants from stomach ache other stomach ailments.2  You should consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment for such conditions, it may be dangerous to self medicate using herbs without proper information of its impact on your condition.

2) Can we use kalmegh as a sedative? 

Several studies have shown that kalmegh demonstrates some sedative effect. It is rather a relaxing herb as it is not as effective as established herbal sedatives, you should consult a doctor for advice on consuming kalmegh for its relaxing effect.4    

3) Can kalmegh help diabetic patients? 

Kamegh decoction on oral use may reduce blood glucose levels as it demonstrates hypoglycemic effect stimulating the release of insulin from the pancreas, which is similar to that of other antidiabetic medicines.6  3 However, conditions like diabetes must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Kindly consult a doctor and do not self-medicate.

4) Can cholesterol levels in the body be reduced by using kalmegh? 

Studies have shown extracts from kalmegh to have potential hypolipidemic effects. Moreover, it protects our heart without causing any damage to the liver. It reduces bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and triglyceride levels in the blood.6  Kindly consult a doctor as the diseases of the heart must be properly diagnosed and treated by a specialist.

References: 

  1. Verma H, Negi M, Mahapatra B, Shukla A, Paul J. Evaluation of an emerging medicinal crop Kalmegh [Andrographis paniculata (Burm. F.) Wall. Ex. Nees] for commercial cultivation and pharmaceutical & industrial uses: A review. ~ 835 ~ J Pharmacogn Phytochem. 2019;8(4):835-848. 
  1. Kour N. Andrographis paniculata : a review on ethnomedicinal potential and biological activities. J Plant Dev Sci. 2016;8(1):1-6. 
  1. Sabu KK, Padmesh P, Seeni S. Intraspecific variation in active principle content and isozymes of Andrographis paniculata (kalmegh): a traditional hepatoprotective medicinal herb of India. J Med Aromat Plant Sci. 2001;23(4):637-647. 
  1. Siddhartha KM, Neelam SS, Rajendran SS. Plant Review Andrographis paniculata (Kalmegh): A Review. Pharmacogn Rev. 2007;1(2):283-298. 
  1. Benny NR, Ns S, Gs S. Hepatoprotective medicinal plants traditional knowledge to scientific evidences : A review. 2021;10(2):285-288. 
  1. Jayakumar T, Hsieh CY, Lee JJ, Sheu JR. Experimental and clinical pharmacology of andrographis paniculata and its major bioactive phytoconstituent andrographolide. Evidence-based Complement Altern Med. 2013;2013(Figure 1). doi:10.1155/2013/846740 

Also Read: Palash Tree – Uses & Benefits

Disclaimer:

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