Rauwolfia Serpentina (Sarpagandha) Uses, Benefits, Dosages and Side Effects

Rauwolfia root introduction

Rauwolfia Serpentina (Sarpagandha) is one of the important ayurvedic medicinal herbs. The root of this herb has been used since ancient times. The importance of the root and the alkaloids obtained from it has been recognized in the modern system of medicine in the treatment of hypertension and Neuro-psychiatric disorders.


Rauwolfia nutritional facts


The root of Sarpagandha contains a large number of alkaloids. The different biochemical substances present in rauwolfia are ajmaline, ajmalicine, ajmalinine, rescinamine, reserpine, reserpinine, serpentine, serpentinine, and yohimbine. According to Pharmacopoeia of India, the plant comes under the category of hypotensive drugs


Rauwolfia export

The root of the plant has great medicinal values. It has been used to treat diseases and disorders. Because of reserpine therapeutic values, it is exported in large quantities to the developed country.


Rauwolfia distribution

 Rauwolfia serpentina is widely distributed in the sub-Himalayan tract of  Punjab, Sikkim, Bhutan, lower hills of the Gangetic plains, eastern and western ghats, and in some parts of central India. Beyond India, it is found in
East Pakistan, Burma, Malaya, Ceylon, Java, and Thailand.


Different name of rauwolfia

English: Rauwolfia root, Serpentina, Serpentina root, Serpent wood.
Hindi: Chotachand, Harkaichanda, Nai, Nakulikanda, Chandrabhaga
Sanskrit: Sarpagandha, Sarpakshi, Sarpangi, Sarvagandha, Sugandha, Surasa, Surpadini, Suvaha, Vasara, Vasupushpa, Vishamardani, Vishamardnika, Vishanashini, Chandra sura, Chandika,


Rauwolfia medicinal uses

  1. Snakebite: In earlier times, it was used for a variety of diseases, including snake-bite, hypertension, insomnia, and insanity.
  2. Epilepsy: It is used for epilepsy and dysentery.
  3. Hypertension: Reserpine has a depressant action on the central nervous system and produces sedation and a lowering of blood pressure. Clinically, the root is used for the treatment of psychoses and hypertension.
  4. Anti-pyretic: Sarpagandha is an antipyretic, anti-diarrhoeal, anti-hypertensive, anthelmintic, hypnotic, sedative, tranquilizer, and increases uterine contractions.
  5. Intestinal disorders: Extracts of the roots are valued for the treatment of intestinal disorders, particularly diarrhea, dysentery, and also as an anthelmintic.
  6. Fever: When mixed with other plant extracts, it has been used in the management of cholera, colic, and fever.
  7. Childbirth: It is believed that the root helps to stimulate uterine contractions and recommended for use in childbirth to promote expulsion of the fetus in difficult cases.
  8. Cornea health: The juice of the leaves has been used as a remedy for the opacity of the cornea.
  9. Mental illness: Patients with chronic mental illness treated with reserpine often become relaxed, sociable, and co-operative.
    Reserpine is considered valuable in the treatment of chronic schizophrenic
  10. Migraine: In migraine and headache, the daily dose of 50 to 100 mg of Rauwolfia produced relief.

Rauwolfia cautions and precautions

The plant root should be used with caution in anxiety depressive states and in patients with cardiac arrhythmia, myocardial infarction, severe cardiac damage, bronchitis, asthma, and gastric ulcer. Higher doses may cause flushing, insomnia, bradycardia, occasionally Parkinson, and severe mental depression which may lead to suicide.


Why rauwolfia not used in psychiatry

Rauwolfia, these days are not used in psychiatry because of the following reasons:

  • The action is slow.
  • Causes serious mental depression.
  • Induces extra-pyramidal damage.
  • Induces parasympathetic overactivity like salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, and bradycardia.
  • Induces peptic ulceration,
  • Aggravate allergic disorders.

Rauwolfia dosages and administration

  • Dry extract : 15 to 60 mg
  • Liquid extract : 0.2 to 0.5 ml
  • Rauwolfia tablet:4 mg daily or as advised by the physician.
  • Reserpine injection: 0.25 to 1 mg intramuscular
  • Reserpine tablets: In psychiatric state: 1-5 mg daily in divided doses. In hypertension: .05 mg daily.
  • Usual strength : 0.25 mg.
  • Powdered root: 20 to 30 grains twice daily
  • Decoction of Rauwolfia(1:10): 1 to 2 oz.

Rauwolfia health benefits

  1. Sleeplessness: In sleeplessness, 150 mg to 250 mg of powder can be given. It induces sound sleep. In insanity, it should be given with rose water. Diet rich in rice and milk should be given to these patients.
  2. Anxiety neurosis: Take the mix of Sarpagandha powder, Khurasani Ajwain powder, and Sugar (500 mg). t is given with cold water, two hours before bedtime, in case of sleeplessness and one hour after a meal, twice in case of anxiety neurosis and
    under stress and strain conditions.
  3. Nervous System Disorders: Take the equal portion of Sarpagandha powder (1 part), Vacha (Acorus Calamus) (1 part), and atamansi (Nardostachys (1 part). Mix and take one teaspoonful three times a day with cold water or gulabark in the treatment of Hysteria, Schizophrenia, Delusion, Emotional
    states and personality disorders.
  4. Tranquilizer: Take Sarpagandha (1 gm), TrifIa Churan(Trio-myrobalans) (5 gm) and Bael leave juice (Eagle Marvellous) (10 gm). Now, ponder over these powders with the juice and make small pills of 500 mg. One tablet, morning and evening with milk or whey should be taken in High Blood Pressure, Emotional and Aggressive behavior.
  5. High Blood Pressure: Sarpagandha (1 gm), Harad(1gm), and Giloy(1gm). Mix and take daily with Terminalia Arjuna) decoction or water for the treatment of heart problems, high blood pressure, and tachycardia.
  6. Migraine: Take Ashwagandha (1 part), Sarpagandha(1 part), and Piper longum root (1 part). Mix all in equal quantity and take half to one teaspoon, twice a day, for
    the management of sleeplessness, tension headache, and migraine.

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