Herboveda Series: 10 Sarpagandha Therapeutic Plants & Materials History Chemistry Therapeutic activity Pharmacological Benefits Contraindications Indian snakeroot Sarpagandha, technically known as ‘Rauwolfia serpentina’ was referred in the ancient medical literature by saint Charaka. Initially, It was used in the treatment of snake bite as antidote and hence the name ‘Sarpa’, which means snake.  Its unique smell used to work as snake repellent. A few other effective medicinal uses were indicated in the ancient medical scripts such as ‘Ayurveda’.   This plant originally was native to Indian subcontinent and surrounding countries.  Now, sarpagandha plant is found in areas like America and Africa as well.  Sarpagandha came in to lime light in the modern medicine,  with the discovery of an important alkloid by name reserpine  in the plant roots, in the year 1952 by Dr Mueller. The plant ‘Rauwolfia serpentina’, commonly called as Sarpagandha,  is an  evergreen shrub that can grow up to   a height of half meter.  Its leaves are simple, 7.5 cm long and 3.5 – 5 cm broad, elliptic or lanceolate, glabrous, bright-green above and pale green beneath pointed.   The stem has no branches and has irregularly longitudinally fissured, pale brown and corky bark. The taproot of this plant is tuberous, soft,   irregularly nodular and bitter.  The fruit is a drupe, around 0.5 cm in diameter possesses shiny black colour when fully ripen.   The fresh roots  aroma and are very bitter in taste.  Features of roots The roots have strong therapeutic properties. They  are odourless and  bitter. The roots look sub cylindrical with slight tapering and have  diameters   ranging between 1 and 3 cm. The surfaces are rough with longitudinal marks.  The  colour of the surface varies from greyish yellow to brown. Kingdom: 		Plantae Family: 		Apocynaceae Genus: 		Rauwolfia Species: 		serpentina Scientific Name: 	Rauwolfia serpentina ‘Rauwolfia serpentina’,  contains  alkaloids, carbohydrates, flavonoids, glycosides, phlobatannins, phenols, resins, saponins,  sterols, tannins and terpenes. Reserpine is the predominant alkaloid. Sarpagandha roots, leaves and rhizomes have been used for centuries, in Ayurvedic and traditional medicines to cure many diseases. A few prominent applications/uses are: 	Blood pressure control. 	Antidote for snake poison and insect bites. 	To increase contractions for expulsion of fetus during delivery. 	Can ease painful affections of bowels, diarrhea, dysentery, cholera and colic. 	Can treat  circulatory disorders. 	Root and leaf paste to make pills and sun dried used against malarial fever. 	Highly beneficial in treating psychosis,  insanity, schizophrenia and hysteria. 	Very effective remedy in treating insomnia because of sedative properties. Reserpine controls catecholamines in the nerve endings. They inturn reduce blood pressure. Ajmaline has been reported to stimulate respiration and intestinal movements.  Other pharmaco observations of Sarpagandha are- Antiandrogenic,  Antidote, CNS Depressant, Expectoran, Hypnotic, Hypothyroid,  Uterocontractant,  Vermifuge etc. Reserpine, by its dopamine-depleting effect, may raise prolactin levels in both men and women. Galactorrhea is one of the side effects of reserpine.  Dopamine depletion activity can affect/aggravate Parkinson’s condition or may interfere with levodopa.  Other side effects include depression, dizziness, drowsiness, dyspnea,  lethargy, rashes   and stuffy nose that are common due to excessive usage.   Infants and pregnant women may need Physician’s advice
Health Scan-May 2019-www.healthscan.biz