Sarpagandha – Rauwolfia serpentina
Sarpagandha – Rauwolfia serpentina or Rauvolfia serpentina, or ‘snakeroot’ is a species of flowering plant in the family Apocynaceae. It is native to South and East Asia. Sarpagandha choornam is a unique Ayurvedic herbal powder solely for hypertension. It also relieves stress, anxiety and insomnia which are usually found associated with hypertension.
- Scientific name: Rauvolfia serpentina
- Rank: Species
- Higher classification: Rauvolfia
- Latin name: Rauwolfia Serpentina
- Family: Apocyanaceae
- Common name: Sarpgandha
- English name: Rauwolfia
- Indian Names : Arachoritita, Chandrabhaga, Chota-chand, Sanochado, Sarpagandha, Chandrika, Patalguruda
- Parts used: Root
- Pharmacological action: sedative, depressant, febrifuge, and tonic
- Actions and uses in ayurveda: kaphvatashamak, nidrajannan, raktbharshamak, jvaraghna.
Chemical Properties of Sarpagandha(Rauwolfia Serpentina)
The powdered root (Rauwolfia Serpentina) generally contains anywhere from 0.15% to 0.2% active alkaloid (reserpine and rescinnamine) by weight. Rauwolfia is cultivated for the medicinal use of its 30 alkaloids (particularly reserpine found in the root), many used in treating hypertension68 . Besides reserpine, other alkaloids used in hypertension and other cardiac disorders are ajmaline, rescinnamine, serpentinine, sarpagine, deserpidine, and chandrine.
Sarpagandha Properties and action
- Nidrajanana Promotes sleep
- Dıpana Enkindles the digestive fire
- Amapacaka Digests ama toxins
- Visaghna Destroys poisons
- Krmighna Anthelmintic
- Hrdaya Treats the heart
- Aparajita Alleviates insanity
Preparations: Decoction, powder, pills
Sarpagandha is an Ayurvedic plant which has been used for its medicinal properties. This plant has been used by Ayurveda for thousands of years as a remedy for various diseases such as hypertension, insomnia and even insanity. The plant has been mentioned by sage Charaka in his work, Charaka Samhita. Sarpagandha has a distinction of being one of the first herbs to be listed in the Materia Medica for its therapeutic use in hypertension or blood pressure in the mid 20th century.
Sarpagandha Plant Description
Sarpagandha is found in abundance in the Western Ghats in the moist forests. Apart from these areas, this Indian medicinal plant is also found widely scattered in the shaded under storey of moist deciduous forests as well as in open, secondary scrub forest and grassy moist habitats. It grows on a variety of soils from sea level up to 1200 metres altitude, generally on sites that were previously inhabited.
This plant is admired in household and people grow it for getting benefit from this entire plant. Sarpagandha is widely grown in India as well as all over the world. It is glabrous under-shrub which grows in waste places and shady forests in India. It is now considered red listed and widely cultivated at many parts of India.
Sarpagandha is an erect, evergreen sub-shrub. This plant is 0.2m to 0.6 m tall. The stem has no branch and has irregularly longitudinally fissured, pale brown and corky bark. The taproot of this plant is tuberous, soft, sometimes irregularly nodular and bitter. The leaves are placed in whorls of 3 or 4 and are 5cm to 18 cm long and 1.5 cm to 7 cm wide. They are elliptic-Lanceolate or Obovate, apex acute or acuminate, base tapering, the surface is dark green and the beneath of the leaf is pale green and the petioles are 0.6cm to 1.4 cm long.
The flowers of Sarpagandha are white or violet-tinged. The flowers blossom in abundance at a time and have Corymbose Cymes. The peduncles are 0.5 cm to 12.5 cm long. The pedicels are stout, 0.3cm to 0.6 cm long and bright red in colour. The Calyx is bright red with Lanceolate segments and corolla is 1cm to 1.3 cm long. The tube of the plant is slender and cylindrical in shape. The fruits are obliquely ovoid, 0.6 cm in diameter; they grow purplish-black in colour when they get ripe. The seeds are ovoid and the surface is slightly unsmooth. Sarpagandha flowers generally blossom during April to July and bear fruits from July to September. Sometimes the flowering and fruiting may occur year-round.
Health and Other Benefits of Sarpagandha
- Sarpagandha is used for the treatment of paranoia, schizophrenia, and hypertension.
- In serpant bite, the powder of Sarpagandha roots is given orally, as well as, applied on the site of bite
- It relieves itching in Urticaria
- Specially in snake bite, it is extensively used as antidote
- The Rauvolfia herb is the best remedy for high blood pressure and it has been adapted by medical fraternity in most countries
- It relieves tension, anxiety and worry and fat people especially find it effective. Whenever a patient is extremely irritable and is behaving in an unruly manner, Sarpagandha has been found effective. However, it should be used with great care in the case of the debilitated, or those habitually depressed.
- It relieves constipation in the case of patients suffering from hypertension as also headache. While it is used, a little chill or cold, and sometimes sneezing, may be observed in some cases.
- Sarpagandha’s sedative properties are legendary. It nourishes majja dhatu and reduces vatato benefit insomnia and agitation. It is also used in manic psychological disturbance as a sedating tranquilliser.
- Its affinity for the blood takes it directly to the heart. It swiftly dilates the blood vessels, causing high blood pressure to drop and the heart rate to reduce. Use drop-by-drop doses until the blood pressure has reduced.
- It is a symptomat+ic remedy that treats the high blood pressure via the nervous system and so benefits high blood pressure caused by high vata and arteriosclerosis. It should be used with a diuretic to prevent fluid retention.
- Sarpagandha can cause diarrhoea, low libido and weight gain in larger doses.
- Because of Ushna Virya and Tikta Guna Sarpagandha acts as an appetizer, digestive, cholagogue, anthelmintic, hence it is used in loss of appetite, helminthiasis etc.
- Sarpagandhareduces the heart rate and dilates blood vessels with lowering of blood pressure. Because of this special property of reducing the blood pressure, it is a universally known medicine for high blood pressure.
Sarpagandha has been used as an antihypertensive herbs both in Ayurveda and Modern system of medicine . It is bitter tonic and possesses well marked sedative properties and was used as remedy for poisonous snake bites and in insomnia and irritative conditions of the central nervous system.
All together more than 20 alkaloids have been isolated from Rauwolfia serpentina including Reserpine which is used as a tranquiliser, hypotensive agent, and for various psychoneurotic conditions mainly where anxiety plays an important aggravating role. It is also used in psychiatric disorder, hysteria, schizophrenia ,epilepsy and anxiety stated insomnia and depression.