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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Glycosides

Kalmegh consists of leaves or entire aerial part of Androgra-phis paniculata Nees., belonging to family Acanthaceae.






Andrographis, King of bitters, Chiretta; Bengal Chirata; Green Chirata; Kiryet (Hindi).


Biological Source


Kalmegh consists of leaves or entire aerial part of Androgra-phis paniculata Nees., belonging to family Acanthaceae.


Geographical source


It grows abundantly in southeastern Asia: India (and Sri Lanka), Pakistan and Indonesia but it is cultivated extensively in China and Thailand, the East and West Indies, and Mauritius.


Cultivation and Collection


It is normally grown from seeds ubiquitously in its native areas where it grows in pine, evergreen and deciduous forest areas, and along roads and in villages. In India, it is cultivated during rainy phase of summer season (Kharif) crop. Any soil having fair amount of organic matter is suitable for commercial cultivation of this crop. About 400 g seed are sufficient for one hectare. The spacing is maintained 30 × 15cm. No major insect and disease infestation has been reported. The plants at flowering stage (90–120 days after sowing) are cut at the base leaving 10–15cm stem for plant regeneration. About 50–60 days after first harvest, final harvest is performed. In Indian condition, the yield varies between 2,000–2,500 kg dry herb/hectare.




The stem is erect, greenish brown, woody, 30–100 cm in height, and quadrangular particularly in the upper regions with four bulges arising on the four corners. The leaves are dark green, lanceolate, with a small winged petiole, 7 cm long, 2–5 cm broad; margin is entire, lamina glabrous, apex acuminate, slightly waxy and base tapering. The midrib varies in outline at different regions of the leaf. Stem branching is profuse which bears small arid solitary flowers. The dried drug is odourless and taste is extremely bitter.


                             Andrographis paniculata

Chemical Constituents


The plant possesses kalmeghin, a bitter crystalline diterpene lactone, such as, andrographolide flavonoids and phenols. The lactones isolated from Kalmegh are andrographolide, 14-deoxy-ll-oxo-andrographolide, 14-deoxy-11, 12-didehydroandrographolide, 14-deoxyandrographolide and neoandrographolide.


The leaves contain β-sitosterol glucoside, caffeic, chlorogenic and dicaffeoyl-quinic acids, carvacrol, eugenol, myristic acid, hentriacontane, tritriacontane, oroxylin A, wogonin, andrograpanin, 14-deoxy-12-methoxyandrogra-pholide, andrographidines A-F and stigmasterol.





Kalmegh has febrifuge, tonic, alterative, anthelmintic, astringent, anodyne, alexipharmic and cholagogue properties. It is useful in debility, cholera, diabetes, swelling, itches, consumption, influenza, piles, gonorrhoea, bronchitis, dysentery, dyspepsia, fever and in weakness. A decoction of the plant is used as a blood purifier and as a cure for torphid and jaundice. The pills prepared from macerated leaves and certain spices (e.g. Cardamom, Clove and Cinnamon) are given for stomach ailments of infants.


Marketed Products


It is one of the ingredients of the preparations known as Purim, Acene-n-pimple cream (Himalaya Drug Company), Herbohep (Lupin Herbal Laboratory), Sage Liverex (Sage Herbals) and Puridil syrup (Aimil Pharmaceuticals).


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