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The plant is well known in Bengal by the name 'Kalmeg'. It is a principal herb in the domestic medicine called 'Alui', which is given to infants. Both in Ayurveda and Unani, it is confused with 'Chitetta' (Swertia chirata), but both are different plants. It is widely available in ArabiaIt is mentioned in the official pharmacopoeia of India.. It is given for fever along with several herbs. It was advertised in England as a substitute for quinine.


It grows throughout India from Assam and Himanchal Pradesh to all over south India. Grows well in moist and shaded places, but it prefers sunny situations. It is cultivated all over India.

Morphology Description (Habit)

It is an erect annual herb. Stem is dark green, quadrangular with longitudinal furrows and wings on the angles of the younger parts and slightly enlarged at the nodes. The leaves are glabrous, dark green, arranged opposite decussate, lanceolate and pinnate. The flowers are small, in lax spreading axillary and terminal racemes or panicles. The capsules are linear-oblong and acute at both ends. The seeds are numerous, sub-quadrate and yellowish brown in colour.

Principal Constituents

Andrographolide was isolated and its structure was elucidated1.


It increases biliary flow and liver weight in rat2. It shows hepatoprotective action3. It improves non-specific immune response4. Andrographolide produces a significant dose dependent choleretic effect, as evidence by increase in bile flow, bile salt and bile acids in conscious rats and anaesthetised guinea pigs5.


There is no adverse effect reported on use of this plant.


It is the principal ingredient of a reputed household medicine, which is used as a bitter tonic and febrifuge. The decoction of the juice is blood purifying.

  1. J. Sci. Ind. Res., 1964, 1, 14.
  2. Indian J. Exp. Biol. 1978, 16, 830.
  3. Indian J. Med. Res., 1990, 92(B), 276-283.
  4. J. Nat. Prod., 1993, 56(7), 995-999.
  5. Anonymous, 1998, Wealth Asia CD-ROM, CSIR, New Delhi.