SERPENTINA (ANDROGRAPHIS PANICULATA):
THE HERB FOR DIABETES, LIVER, HEART DISEASE, COLDS AND FLU
Serpentina is a medicinal herb dubbed as the ‘King of Bitters.’ Despite its bitter taste, it is widely sought after by diabetics because of its efficacy to lower blood sugar. This herb can be taken by itself or mixed with food to lessen the bitterness.
I once suffered from diarrhea. Aware of the potency of Serpentina, I took it by making tea (5 leaves of Serpentina: 1 cup of water) thrice a day. I had to eat a little chocolate in between sips just to finish a cup of it! The following morning my stomachache was history. I also noticed that I was healed from my cold and nasal congestion when I ate Serpentina leaves with honey. Luckily, there are some people who enjoy the pure taste of this herb that Malaysians call ‘Bile of the Earth.’ This definitely makes it to my list of stomachache and common cold remedies.
This herb is popularly known in the Philippines as Serpentina but its name in the ‘List of Philippine Medicinal Plants’ is Sinta. It is known scientifically and internationally as Andrographis Paniculata. This traditional medicine is native to Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, which is used as a cooling herb for fever and flu. Indian tribes also use Serpentina as treatment for liver problems and cancer in their Ayuverdic medicines. Serpentina’s popularity is not limited to its Southeast Asian roots though. It is also regarded as a remedy for common colds in Scandinavian regions.
The many names of Serpentina, Andrographis Paniculata and Sinta, boil down to one and the same herb, which belong to the Acenthaceae family. It is not to be confused with Serpentina Ravoulis though because this herb belongs to the Apocynacea family, which is used as tranquilizer and cure for mental disorders, venom and reptile bites.
There are many scientific studies about Serpentina. Some notable studies are as follows:
In 1911, Dr. Fougere studied on the ‘Bitter Principle’ (pure bitter extract) from the herb. According to his research, this ‘Bitter Principle’ protects the liver.
In 2006, a research was conducted to study the extract from this herb. One of its discoveries is one of the major constituents of this ‘Bitter Principle.’ It is an active ingredient, now scientifically identified as Andropholide, which is both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant.
Serpentina’s Andropholide property is supported by Philippines Medicinal Plant studies. It is said to be anti-diarrheal, anti-pyretic, anti-infective, anti-bacterial, anti-typhoid, anti-fungal, anti-hepatoxin and anti-cancer.
Chinese studies show that it also prevents blood from clotting. It also prevents reclogging of arteries post-angioplasty. It is said to lower blood pressure as well.
Research also supports the uses of Serpentina in Ayurvedic medicine as protection against hyperglycemia (for diabetics) and control of renal disease (kidney).
Studies also support that 6 grams of Serpentina is as effective as an Acetaminophen, which is taken for 2 to 5 days for cold, fever and sore throat.
To reap all these benefits, our common healing practice is to eat five (5) big leaves of fresh Serpentina or six (6) small leaves, thrice (3x) a day. It may also be taken as tea, also three (3x) a day.
Despite all its virtues, there should be some caution in taking Serpentina especially among the following:
1. Pregnant and lactating mothers – Serpentina is an abortifacient for pregnant women. While there is no actual study on adverse effects on lactating mothers, it is better not to risk.
2. Individuals with Auto-immune diseases like multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
If Serpentina is taken regularly and continuously, it is important to note also that it should be limited to only three (3) months for adults and one (1) month for children, whether in capsule or fresh form. It has side effects like swollen lymph glands, serious allergic reactions and elevation of liver enzymes. Too much of everything is unsafe.
Serpentina is very easy to plant and grow. Just place it in an area where there is part sun and part shade. It also wants to be watered daily.
With loving care, it not only adorns the garden with its pretty white flowers, it also gives ready supply of fresh leaves for relief. Enjoy life!
The Gardener, MBA
WebMD.com, Dosage and Caution on Andrographis Paniculata
Wikepedia, Description and Studies on Andrographis Paniculata
Examine.com, Background of Andrographis Paniculata
www.Stuartxchange.com/sinta.html, Philippine Medicinal Plant, Sinta