Sarpagandha, also known as Rauwolfia serpentina (Rauvolfia serpentina) or black snakeroot is one of the very important Ayurvedic herbs. It is used in treating high BP, lack of sleep (insomnia) etc.
Botanical Name: Rauwolfia serpentina Benth ex. Kutz.
Family – APOCYANACEAE (Kutaja Kula)
Table of Contents
English Name- Sepentina root, Indian snakeroot, Rauvolfia root, serpentine root.
Hindi name – chota chand, Dhaval barua, Nayi, Nakulikand, Nkulkanda, Dhavalbarua, chotachand, Rasna, Rarnabheda, Herkai chandra, Candrabhaga.
Kannada name – Sarpagandhi, Chandrika, sutranabhi, patala garuda.
Bihari name – Dhanmarua, Chandmarua, Isargaj, Dhanbarua, Dhavalbarua, Sanachando
Telugu name- Patala Garuda, Patalagani, Patalagaruda, patalagandhi, padagpuchahv, dumparasna
Bengali Name- Chandar, Nakuli, Sugandhanakuli, chotachand, gandrasana, chandra Nolbel, amepadi. \
Marathi Name- Adkayi, Adakayi, Harki, Sapasanda, Chotachand
Gujarati Name- amelpodi, Amelpadi, Norbal
Tamil name – Carpakanta, Covanna Milpadi, sivan amalpodi, savannamibori, covanna milpori, sarppaganti, civan amal podi.
Malayalam Name- Chivan Amalpodi, Chivan Avalpori, Tullunni, Chuvanna avilpori, amalpori, Chuvanna amalpari, civan amalpadi.
Tamil name – Chivan Amalpodi
Chinese name – shég?n mù, yìndù shémù
Burmese name – Bongmaiza.
Chandramara – Chandramaahlaadam maarayati – Chandra refers to mind. The herb that helps to relieve the tensions of mind.
Dhavalavitapa – Dhaavati shodhayati mano dehamcha – The herb that cleanses and purifies mind and body
Naakuli, Sarpasugandha, Sugandha, Mukta, Nakuleshta
Susruta – Aparajita Gana (Uttara Tantra)
Dhanwantari Nighantu – Karveeradi varga
Priynighantu – Shatpuchpadi varga
Sodhala mighantu – Guduchyadi varga, Kerveeradi verga
P.V. Sharma – Rakshoghna Dharaneeya gana, Kutaja kula
Different varieties – Rauvolfia tetraphylla is also widely supplied as Sarpagandha. Its actions are quite similar to Rauvolfia serpentina.
It is reported that rauwalfin has about 26 different species.
- Rauwalfia densiflora : Contains sclerenchyma
- tratraphylla – has uniform cork, abundant scleroids of fibats but devoid of resinnumine.
- R vomitoria – having very large vessels.
- R. conescence
- R. beddomei
- R. caffra
- R. cumminsfi
- R. obscura
- R. rosea
- R. mambasiana
- R. volkensii
- R. nitida
- R. oreogition
All of them contains Reserpine.
Distribution- Grows in shady forests in India. It is an endangered species in many parts of India. Hence export of this plant is restricted from India.
Global : India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Burma, Bangladesh, Andaman Islands, Indonesia (Tropical region of Asia), America, Africa, Java.
National : Moist tropical hills of different states of India.
Regional : Sub Himalayan tract from Sirhind eastwards from Dehradun to Assam- till 4000 feet ht. Abundant in Darjeeling and Sikkim Tarai.
Rasa (Taste) – Tikta (Bitter)
Guna (qualities) – Rooksha – dryness
Vipaka- Katu – Undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion
Veerya- Ushna – Hot potency
Effect on Tridosha – Balances Vata and Kapha Doshas.
Prabhava – Nidrajanaka – induces sleep.
Part used- root
Sarpagandha – chemical constitution –
Ajmalicidine, Ajmalicine, Rouhimbine, Indobinine, Reserpiline, Reserpine, Sarpagine, Serpentine, Serpentinine, Yohimbine, Ajmalimine, Ajmaline, Rauwolfinine(Perakenine), Sandwicolidine, Serpinine etc.
Reserpine (an indole alkaloid ) is the antihypertensive principle having tranquillizing property also. Ajmaline in combination with other hypertensive agents, is used in the treatment of HTN complicated with arrhythmia.
(Reference: Illustrated Dravyaguna Vijnana, Vol. II, by Dr JLN Shastry)
Insomnia 250 mg – 1 gram in divided dose per day.
For hypertension – 250 mg – 2 gram in divided dose per day.
In the treatment of schizophrenia – 500 mg – 4 grams in divided doses per day, is the maximum dose.
Hysteria – 1 g with cow milk
Dosage of Alkaloid :
- Ranwolfia – 100-150 mg oral 4d
- Reserpine – 150 mg once day (oral)
- Maintance dosa – 100-250 mg once day
- Rescinnanine – 500 mg oral
Vranahara – useful to heal wound quickly
Krumihara – useful to relieve worm infestation and infection
Useful in the treatment of insect bite, scorpion bite, rat bite etc. Removes the toxic effect of rodent bite.
Vishamajwara – useful in recurrent and chronic fever
Sarpagandha has calming effect over mind and brain. It induces sleep. It also relieves excited state of mind, hence useful in schizophrenia (insanity).
It decreases blood pressure.
It contracts uterus and induces menstruation.
It is used in the treatment of epilepsy, panic attacks and anxiety, although, it is not indicated in the treatment of depression.
It suppresses early ejaculation. Hence used in the treatment of premature ejaculation and early excitement.
- Juice of leaves can be applied to the eyes as a remedy for corneal opacity.
- In serpent bite, its root powder is applied on site of bite.
- In Anidra, it works well when given along with ghee.
- It is used in gastrointestinal maladies like anorexia, dyspepsia, worm and abdominal pain.
For this purpose – sarpagandha, kutaja bark skin. and vyaghri eranda roots are mixed in – 1:2:3 proportion and given the milk, It destroys ama and eliminates vata from the gut.
- In Hypertension, the paste of its roots, mixed with rose water with rock candy ameliorates, mental stress, headache, giddiness, and induces sound sleep.
- In Atisara, its root and ishwari root are powdered and administered.
- Kutaja skin and butter milk with its root works in bacillary dysentery.
- In Sarpa visa root powder (10-20 mm) in given with water.
- The decoction of root is used to increase uterine contraction.
Mahamahapadhya Kaviraj Gananath Sen, made a full research study of the use of the drug and has published his researches and finding in the Indian medical world July 1931 and has given the indications for use of the drug, in case of insanity as its use in cases of high B.P. which fact was first noticed by him.
In 1930 Dr. Kartikachandra vasus lab – lat V.M.M.K. and Gananath senji. Dr. Vasu had conducted the experiment on Sarpagandha.
Sarpagandha side effects –
It is contra indicated in – Bronchial asthma, Duodenal ulcer, Hyperacidity, Renal disorders.
Because it stimulates uterus, this herb should not be used during pregnancy.
This medicine should be used strictly under medical supervision.
It is not suitable to be used in cases of depression.
It is not ideal to use this in children and after delivery.
It is not ideal to take this medicine along with Digoxin, Levodopa.
Special care is needed when it is administered along with other medicines for high BP. The combined effect may lower the BP to a great extent.
Its sleep enhancing effect may further increase if taken by an alcoholic. Hence, precaution is needed.
There are many reserpine side effects that are co-related with Sarpagandha side effects. This is a wrong practice. Ayurveda does not use reserpine extract as Sarpagandha. Ayurveda considers Sarpagandha as a whole plant and not merely the alkaloid – reserpine. Hence all the side effects of reserpine cannot be attributed to Sarpagandha. When in doubt, please feel free to ask about the safety of the medicine prescribed, with your doctor.
Interaction with medicines, supplements
Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.
this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets,
Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.
Most of the adverse effects of reserpine are due to its effect on C.N.S. sedation, etc. Inability to concentrate or perform complex tasks are the most common adverse effects, more serious is the occasional psychotic depression that can lead to suicide. Other side effects include nasal stuffiness and exacerbation of peptic ulcer disease which is uncommon with oral doses in small quantity.
Reserpine must be discontinued at the first sign of depression and the drug should never be given to patients with a history of depression. But it has been reported that reserpine induced depression may last several months after the drug is discontinued.
It should be used on established disease with mental disturbances. Used with caution in patients who are mentally as well as physically weak.
Sarpagandha withdrawal should be done gradually, rather than abruptly.
Its red list status (endangered species) has been assessed as endangered for Karnataka, Kerala & T.N.
Rauwalfia root should be taken from a 3 to 4 year old plant and it should be washed and dried in shade and stored in a dry place.
In market, products with Sarpagandha root stem will be given. In stems, less amount of alkaloids are present.
As supply in much less than its demand, there are more chances of adulteration.