Sambiloto’s four related medicinal compounds were tested for a protective effect against liver toxicity (hepatotoxicity) produced in mice by giving them carbon tetrachloride (a cleaning solvent), alcohol, or other toxic chemicals. These chemicals damage the liver by causing lipid peroxidation. This is a process whereby free radicals produced by the chemical attack and destroy cellular membranes that surround liver cells. When the Sambiloto compounds were given to animals in two separate trials three days before the toxic chemicals, there was a significant protective effect in the liver. This effect was attributed to the antioxidant ability of the Sambiloto compounds. This is a significant finding for followers of the Western lifestyle, which often involves high consumption of alcohol, which is a liver toxin with serious consequences taken over the long term.
In another study, andrographolide from Sambiloto was shown to produce a significant increase in bile flow. Bile is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder and aids in digestion. When a chemical, paracetamol, was given to animals pretreated with Sambiloto, the usual decrease in bile production seen with this chemical was prevented. In this case Sambiloto was more potent than Silymarin, another similar but inferior herb.
Infective hepatitis is an acute inflammatory condition of the liver. It is often followed by liver cirrhosis and may progress to a coma and death. In Indonesia, there is much anecdotal evidence to confirm that Sambiloto is an effective cure for Hepatitis, particularly when taken in combination with Curcuma. Other indications of effectiveness of Sambiloto included improvement in liver function tests, and many recorded cases of hepatitis cures in Indonesian literature.
The andrographolides present in Sambiloto are potent stimulators of gallbladder function. In animal experiments, those that received andrographolides for seven consecutive days showed an increase in bile flow, bile salts, and bile acids. These increases are beneficial and result in enhanced gallbladder function. Use of Sambiloto is therefore likely to decrease the probability of gallstone formation and also aid fat digestion. The andrographolides also prevented decreases in the amount of bile that are caused by acetaminophen toxicity.