Kalmegh (Andrographis Paniculata) – The King of Bitters – Uses, Benefits, & Side-Effects

At the heart of Ayurveda – the mother of all healing – lies an important herb that’s been utilized since 1500 BC: “Kalmegh.”

It’s only recently that western medicine has begun to acknowledge the wonders of this powerful herb. Adding to this is the fact that as per Market Research Future (MRFR), the Global Herbal Medicine Market will generate a revenue of USD 111 Billion by the end of 2023.

Just recently, the University of Southampton initiated new trials of Andrographis paniculata. In the trial, this natural herb was prescribed to patients with colds and flu to see if the plant can soothe symptoms such as sore throats, coughs, and sinusitis. The objective was to replace it with cold-suppressing antibiotics. It goes without saying this is a one-of-a-kind initiative where Ayurvedic medicine is being actively used by modern Science experts. So let’s understand why kalmegh plant is gaining momentum in the “healthy lifestyle-driven” circles.

Kalmegh - Andrographis Paniculata
Kalmegh – Andrographis Paniculata – Kalamegha

Whether you call it Green Chireta (English name), Andrographis Paniculata (Scientific name), Kalmegh / Kalamegha / Kirayat (Hindi name), or Nilavembu (Tamil) – this plant has displayed many avatars, forms, and uses since time immemorial. Small in appearance, the plant is native to India, Sri Lanka and tropical South-East Asian countries and belongs to the Acanthaceae family. It is also widely known as the “King of the Bitters” due to its – as you may have guessed – bitter taste and weak scent. It is an annual herbaceous plant that comes with anti-bacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. Typically, its leaves and roots are extracted from the Kalmegh tree and are used for a variety of medicinal purposes.


Andrographis Paniculata Constituents


1. Diterpenoids (Anti-cancer)


2. Flavonoids (Anti-atherosclerotic)


3. Polyphenols (Anti-oxidant)


Kalmegh Uses: Nutritional Information & Dosage


  • For children experiencing loss of appetite or frequent diarrhoea, Baba Ramdev suggests a remedy: Boil Kalamegha leaves in water till the mixture thickens, and add some jaggery (Gur) to sweeten the taste. Once it’s cool, make balls out of it and give to children.
  • The standard dose of Kalmegh in various forms is: juice (5-10 ml), powder (1-3 gm), and decoction (20-30 ml)


Fun facts:

  • Influenza broke out after WWI and the kalmegh leaf was credited with halting Influenza in India!
  • “Kalmegh” is being cultivated by many farmers in the Tangail district (Bangladesh) and is being believed to reduce poverty and uplift the area’s economy!

Important: Please consult a doctor before taking the Kalmegh herb in any form just as a precautionary measure. Better to be safe than sorry, right?


Top 15 Kalmegh Benefits for a New Lease of Life – Nilavembu Benefits



Kalmegh / Kalamegha – loosely translated as the “Dark Cloud” in Hindi – is known to fight off microbes, malaria, parasites, and cancer. In addition to this, it helps enhance cognitive abilities and aids in skin collagen formation. Let’s look at the various benefits of the Kalmegh plant in greater detail.

1. Dengue & Chikungunya: This herbal nine-ingredient nilavembu plant is useful for treating dengue. Fact: It was approved for public use by the late CM Jayalalithaa during her tenure when Chickungunya broke out in Tamil Nadu.

2. Kidney stone: Ingesting 1000mg (2X daily) for 5 days following kidney stone treatment reduced the presence of pus, blood, and protein in the urine.

3. Common cold & sinus: It reduces all symptoms of the common cold including earaches, headaches, cough, fever, and fatigue. Dose: 100 mg (2X daily) for 5 days. Note: It is safe to give to children for the common cold.

4. Inflammation & pain: According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Kalmegh “cools” and relieves internal heat, inflammation, and pain. It is also shown to lower chronic inflammation in the brains of mice.

5. Cancer: Kalmegh’s key component – Andrographolide – can regulate 939 genes involved with anti-cancer promoting benefits, such as inhibiting cancer cell duplication and cell division, suppressing tumour tissue growth, and promoting cancer cell death. Let’s look at its various effects on different types of cancer:

Colon: Acts as a potent growth and multiplication inhibitor in colon cancer cells, slows the growth of polyps in the colon – typically associated with increased colon cancer risk.

– Breast: Induces breast cancer cell death.

Blood: Exhibits a high degree of cytotoxicity in the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia and reduces the proliferation of cells and increased cell death of multiple myeloma.

Skin: Fights against melanoma skin cancer (in vitro).

Brain: Inhibits the proliferation of human glioblastoma.
Lung: Inhibits growth and reproduction of six tested lung cancer cells, and possesses antioxidant properties against cigarette smoke-induced lung injury.
Kidney: Inhibits growth and reproduction of two kidney cancer cells lines.

6. Gut-healing properties: It acts as a therapeutic agent in treating inflammatory bowel disease. In a study, adults treated with 1200-1800 mg of Andrographis Paniculata with mild-to-moderate colitis had a significantly higher positive response over placebo. Additionally, its extract is shown to cure 88.3% per cent of acute bacillary dysentery and 91.3% per cent of acute gastroenteritis cases.

7. Premature ageing: Topical application of Andrographis Paniculata suppresses UV-induced skin thickness, elasticity, wrinkles, and water content.

8. Arthritis: Viewed as a “natural complement,” it is known to reduce the number and intensity of swollen joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

9. Infections: Kalmegh – a potent anti-microbial – is known to treat life-threatening bloodstream infections, pneumonia, sepsis, tuberculosis, and surgical site infections.

10. Weil’s disease: It has been known to treat Weil’s disease (a relative of Leprosy). Surprisingly, the results were comparable with Nitrofurantoin (an antibiotic) – only with fewer side effects!

11. Parasites: Its anti-parasitic properties help to fight against the giant roundworm typically infecting humans (in vitro). The Kalmegh’s leaf extract in the powdered form (2-3 gm) is mixed with black pepper powder to treat malaria.

12. Liver diseases: Kalmegh for the liver has multiple advantages. It protects the liver against toxins that cause damage, increases the liver’s antioxidant defence systems, and treats various liver-related issues such as constipation, colic, cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, dyspepsia, hyperacidity, hookworm infestation, stomach ache and stomach disorders. It is also used as an aid for jaundice and torpid liver. As a remedy by Baba Ramdev, a decoction of the plant should be consumed which includes 1 gm Kalmegh leaves, 1-2 gm bhumi amla powder, and 2 gm mulethi mixed in 200 ml of water. This infusion should be boiled to a fourth of the quantity and strained for treating irregular bowels.

13. Bites, wounds, and skin problems: The plant’s paste is used as a cure for poisons of snake venom and treats scorpions and snake bites. It is also used as a treatment for skin infection, boils, scabies and patches. According to Baba Ramdev, mix 2-3 gm Kalmegh powder with 1-2 gm Amla in 2 glasses (preferably made of clay) of water at night and consume it on an empty stomach in the morning every day if you wish to have glowing skin.

14. Boosts immunity: It helps to enhance immunity and is used as a blood purifier. Dose: A cold infusion of the nilavembu plant is given in a quantity of 40-50 ml.

15. Diabetes: Studies suggest that plant extracts promote uptake of glucose in fat cells and help manage Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, weight gain and suppression of immune.

Kalmegh Side-Effects: Lesser-Known After Effects


As in the case of ayurvedic herbs, it may cause the following side-effects:

  1. Lowered blood pressure
  2. Nausea-like symptoms and loss of appetite
  3. Extremely bitter taste if not taken in the capsule form
  4. Not recommended for those trying to conceive, pregnant women or women on breastfeeding
  5. May increase auto-immune disease symptoms
  6. Might slow down blood clotting leading to excessive bleeding
  7. Not recommended for patients with gallbladder, kidney, cardiac, and high blood pressure problems
  8. Could worsen ulcers, lead to heartburn, cause rashes or loose motions
  9. Could cause headache and fatigue

It may be the “Bile of the Earth,” but Kalmegh’s medicinal uses and health benefits far outweigh any antibiotic counterparts by miles! Try this multi-purpose herb and judge for yourself.



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Writer & Blogger, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder and CTO Turiya Infotainment Private Limited I am an Ayurveda enthusiast and have a deep love for everything natural. I am also a software engineer by degree and now I work as a full time blogger on Honey Fur! I have been learning about Ayurvedic principles for past 7 years now and have completed certificate courses from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy. The courses I have completed are: Ayurveda For Women Care: A course which deeply dives into women health problems like menorrhea, leucorrhea, amenorrhea. It also gives a detail study of child birth and pregnancy care, pre and postpartum. Ayurvedic Cosmetology: This is a lecture and video course which deeply dives into Skin Care, Hair Care, Eye & Oral Care & Common Issues and solutions pertaining to the same.

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