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Useful Herbs

Health Benefits of Indian Gentian - Indian Gentian Uses in Medicine


uses of indian gentian in medicine and its health benefits

INDIAN GENTIAN USES AND HEALTH BENEFITS

The active ingredients in the Gentian supplement extract are diterpene lactones known as andrographolides. It has many health benefits. Gentian supplement has been used to treat a wide variety of medical conditions and Indian Gentian extracts are being actively used in medicine. Some of the uses and health benefits of Indian Gentian are listed below;

1. Respiratory Tract Infections

Gentian Extract has been used to treat a number of respiratory tract diseases. It is used to relieve the symptoms of Common Cold, such as cough, running nose, post nasal drips and earache. In combination with other herbs, it is also used for the treatment of Sinus infections which cause severe headache, nasal obstruction and respiratory complications. This is believed to be due to immune stimulating and anti-inflammatory properties of andrographolides.

A research study was conducted at the university of Pittsburgh Medical Center in 2004. It involved around 900 participants. It was concluded that Gentian extract was indeed more effective in treating symptoms of above mentioned upper respiratory tract infections.


2. Immunity Enhancement

Gentian extract is thought to enhance the immune function of the body. The proper function of immune systems is needed to fight against infection. Those individuals who have better immune systems face lesser health problems. A clinical trial conducted in Russia suggested that gentian extract is effective in the prevention of the onset of cold in healthy individuals. After three months, the group taking 5mg of gentian extract twice daily had only half the number of colds experienced as compared to the placebo group.

In addition, a very similar report published in the journal “Planta Medica”, supports the fact that the preventive effect of Gentian Extract is due to immune enhancement function.

3. Liver Protection

Gentian Extract is believed to have a protective effect on the liver. In studies done on animals to evaluate the effects of Gentian Extract on Liver, It has been found to increase the levels of important liver enzymes, including Glutathione, Superoxide dismutase and Catalase. All these enzymes are powerful reducing agents. They convert toxic compounds to neutral or less toxic products. For example, they detoxify hydrogen peroxide by converting it to water which is a non-toxic and neutral product. These enzymes play a key role in the other detoxification actions of liver implying that Gentian extract has a potential liver protective effect.

Hepatoprotective effect of Andrographolide was studied on acute hepatitis induced in rats by a single dose of galactosamine or paracetamol. It showed that administration of Andrographolide led to the normalization of toxin-induced increase in the levels of liver biomarkers.


4. Viral Hepatitis

Gentian Extract has been shown to help people with chronic viral hepatitis. This is supported by its traditional use but there is minimum or unsatisfactory scientific evidence so far. This has been mainly reported in the Indian literature over the year and it can be attributed to its liver protective effect by reducing the inflammatory process and free radical-mediated liver injury.

5. Gastrointestinal Disorders

Gentian extract has been used in traditional herbal medicine in India to treat gastrointestinal problems. It is used to treat loss of appetite indigestion, diarrhoea and intestinal gas.

Bile stasis predisposes to the formation of gall stones. It increases the release of bile by enhancing gallbladder contractions. Therefore, it increases the digestion of fats and decreases the incidence of gall stones and other inflammatory conditions of the gall bladder and biliary tree such as Cholecystitis and Cholangitis.

Gastroprotective activities of aqueous and ethanolic extract of Andrographis paniculata leaves has been confirmed in studies done on rats.

6. Infections

Andrographis boosts the immune system and helps fight against microbes. They are thought to have antiviral, antibacterial and anti-malarial activities.

A study published in December 2004 in the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” attributed this anti-malarial activity of Gentian is to Xanthones isolated from the plant’s roots.

Malaria is very common in rural areas of Africa and the use of Gentian extract is very popular in Africa where it has been used to treat Plasmodium infections especially in the areas where there is lack of modern health facilities.

7. HIV and AIDS

Andrographis, found in the Gentian extract has been shown to decrease viral load and increase CD4 lymphocytes count in people with HIV infection. The ability to directly kill HIV and strengthen the immune system in HIV patients is still unknown.

A clinical trial of Andrographolide from the gentian extract was conducted to asses’ safety, tolerability and effects on plasma virion HIV-1 RNA levels and CD4+ lymphocyte levels. It involved 13 HIV positive patients. A significant increase in the mean CD4+ lymphocyte levels of HIV patient’s occurred. However, no significant changes were noticed in the mean plasma HIV-1 RNA levels.

8. Cancers

The immune system enhancing the ability of gentian helps the body to fight against cancerous growths (Understand Cancer). Andrographolide, an extract of Andrographis causes apoptosis or programmed cell death of cancer cells in both hormone-dependent and hormone-independent prostate cancer. It is also believed to inhibit the synthesis of Interleukin-6, a pro-inflammatory molecule responsible for the initiation of Prostate Cancer.

There is an increase in the levels of antioxidants that reduce the effects of the free radical injury. Repetitive cellular injury induced by free radicals is one of the well-known causes of cancer. It also deprives the tumour of the blood supply by preventing the formation of new blood vessels.

It causes induction of cell-cycle inhibitory protein p27 and decreases the expression of cyclin-dependent kinase 4. It also causes the proliferation of lymphocytes and the production of interleukin-2. It enhances the tumour necrosis factor-alpha production and CD marker expression, increasing the cytotoxic activity of lymphocytes against cancer cells. These results suggest that Andrographolide has the potential for being developed as a cancer therapeutic agent.

9. Asthma Treatment

Andrographis Paniculata is useful for the treatment of asthma. It decreases the number of eosinophils. Eosinophils are the white blood cells and their number increases in case of allergic and parasitic infection. They release inflammatory chemicals at the site of allergic reaction and produce symptoms. It also decreases mucus production, histamine release other inflammatory mediators involved in asthma.

A study shows that Andrographolide may attenuate allergic asthma by inhibiting NF-kappaB signalling activity. This implicates a potential therapeutic value of Andrographolide in the treatment of asthma.

10. Diabetes

Gentian extract has been used traditionally by diabetic patients. It delays the progress of diabetes. However, to gather relevant evidence research is going on.

A research study has been done in which diabetic rats were given gentian extract. They were tested for serum glucose level after a few weeks and it was found that they have significantly reduced the level of serum glucose
.

11. Skin conditions

Andrographis paniculata has been used traditionally to treat skin conditions like boils and Scabies and also has been found very effective. These conditions were traditionally attributed to impurities in the blood.

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