Andrographis for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Like other autoimmune conditions, the symptoms and joint damage of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are the result of the body’s own defensive actions working against itself. People with RA often look to over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers to deal with initial discomfort, and then add prescription drugs to their regimen that dampens down the overzealous immune responses that cause problems to begin with.

The trouble with that approach is that the pain relievers can damage the stomach lining, the liver, brain signaling, or cause addiction. The drugs used to curtail autoimmune conditions can make individuals more susceptible to bacterial or viral invaders. Fortunately, for individuals suffering from RA, an herb that has been widely used in Ayurvedic practice for centuries, andrographis (Andrographis paniculata), may relieve the systemic inflammation brought about because of immune system imbalances.

Andrographis is currently the focus of intensive study around the world. That’s mostly due to one of the plant’s most studied compounds, called andrographolide. Although many of the components of andrographis contribute to its value for our health, this particular compound has been researched for liver protection, immune defense, digestive disorders, and joint and muscle pain.

This research found that andrographolide reduces inflammation by moderating the levels of neutrophils, white blood cells that normally protect us from harm, but can run rampant in cases of autoimmune conditions. Because of the natural compound’s less intensive, but still effective actions, researchers in this study feel that andrographis may have real value in addressing difficult to treat rheumatoid arthritis. 


Li X, Yuan K, Zhu Q, Lu Q, Jiang H, Zhu M, Huang G, Xu A. Andrographolide Ameliorates Rheumatoid Arthritis by Regulating the Apoptosis-NETosis Balance of Neutrophils. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Oct 11;20(20). pii: E5035.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by symmetric polyarthritis with swelling and pain at synovial joints. In RA patients, delayed neutrophil apoptosis amplifies the inflammatory response and massively released neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) induce tissue damage and provide self-antigens. Andrographolide (AD) is the major active labdane diterpenoid derived from Andrographis paniculata, which has multiple pharmacological effects, including hepatoprotection, anti-angiogenesis, anti-thrombosis, and anti-inflammation. In the present study, we investigated the effect of AD on an adjuvant-induced arthritis (AA) murine model of RA and found that AD alleviated murine arthritis by reducing neutrophil infiltration and NETosis in the ankle joints and relieved the systematic inflammation. In vitro experiments showed that AD accelerated the apoptosis of lipopolysaccharide-activated neutrophils and inhibited autophagy-dependent extracellular traps formation of neutrophils. These findings suggest that AD has considerable potential for RA therapy.