Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rauvolfia serpentina (L.) BENTH. EX KURZ

Family : Apocynaceae

Synonym(s) : Ophioxylon album Gaertn., Rauvolfia trifoliata (Gaertn.) Baill., Ophioxylon trifoliatum Gaertn.

English Name : Serpent Wood, Rauvolfia root, Serpentine, Snakeroot plant.


This is a small, upright, perennial shrub with up to only a meter high, usually unbranched slender stem and unbranched prominent tuberous crooked (where the name serpentina comes from) roots. The leaves are opposite or in whorl of 3 to 5, oblanceolate or obovate, the stalks up to 1.5 cm long. The inflorescences are generally terminal, sometimes axillary, cymose, dense-flowered forming a hemispheric head on the end of the stalk, white or red in color. The fruits consist of 1 to 2 rounded with a sharp top drupelets, joined at the base, dark red or blackish when ripe. The seeds are single in each fruit, oval, with a rough and dull surface. It can be propagated by seeds, stem and root cuttings.


Moist forests shady places near rain-forest.

Parts Used : Leaf and root

Herb Effects

Hypotensive, anthelmintic, sedative and aids in contracting the uterus (root).

Active Ingredients

Ajmalicine, ajmaline, ajmalinine, deserpidine, papaverine, reserpine, reseinamine, serpentine, yohimbine (root); corynanthine, stigmasterol (plant).

Medicinal Use

Removing corneal opacity (leaf); central nervous system disorders including various mental problems, anthelmintic, intestinal problems (including dysentery) and lowering blood pressure (root), bile vomiting, blood dysentery, chickenpox, cough, dog-bite, fever, gastric problems, headache, insanity, insomnia, prolapse of rectum, rheumatism / rheumatoid arthritis and spermatorrhoea.


A tincture made from the whole plant should be taken three times a day.
For hypertensive patients: 1-2 gm.
As a sleeping dose: 3-6 gm


Side effects of Rauwolfia include nasal stuffiness and constipation, drowsiness, severe depression, bradycardia, hypergastric secretion, nausea, nasal congestion, diarrhea and various sexual-endocrine dysfunctions (inhibition of menses, impotence).


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