Sarpagandha Rauwolfia serpentina Uses, Side Effects- Ayurveda Details

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)

Vernacular names

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.

Sanskrit synonyms

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

Classical categorization

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

Sarpagandha

Varieties, distribution

Different varieties – Rauvolfia tetraphylla is also widely supplied as Sarpagandha. Its actions are quite similar to Rauvolfia serpentina.

Varieties:
It is reported that rauwalfin has about 26 different species.

  1. Rauwalfia densiflora : Contains sclerenchyma
  2. tratraphylla – has uniform cork, abundant scleroids of fibats but devoid of resinnumine.
  3. R vomitoria – having very large vessels.
  4. R. conescence
  5. R. beddomei
  6. R. caffra
  7. R. cumminsfi
  8. R. obscura
  9. R. rosea
  10. R. mambasiana
  11. R. volkensii
  12. R. nitida
  13. 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.

Habitat:
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.

Medicinal qualities

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

Chemical constitution

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)

Dosage

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 :

  1. Ranwolfia –           100-150 mg oral 4d
  2. Reserpine –           150 mg once day (oral)
  3. Maintance dosa –           100-250 mg once day
  4. Rescinnanine –           500 mg oral

Sanskrit verse

Sarpagandha uses
Sarpagandha uses

Therapeutic uses

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.

External use

  • 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.

Internal use

  • 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.

Research

Research on a Sarpagandha alkaloid – Rescinnamine
Methanolic root extract of Sarpagandha

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.

Side effects

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.

Can 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.

With western medicines
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.

Toxicology

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.

Antidote

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.

Precautions

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.

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic medicines with Sarpagandha ingredient –
Sarpagandha Ghanvati,  Siledin, Cardostab, Norbeepee

Threat status

Its red list status  (endangered species) has been assessed as endangered for Karnataka, Kerala & T.N.

Preservation

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.

Adulterant

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.

78 thoughts on “Sarpagandha Rauwolfia serpentina Uses, Side Effects- Ayurveda Details”

    • Hi, it may induce excessive sleepiness.
      BP needs to be monitored. Very high Dose may cause decrease in BP.
      Unless otherwise prescribed by a doctor, it should not be used for a very long period of tie.

      Reply
  1. hi sir,
    this article is very good. where do i get sarpaghandha..
    iam very much interested to buy asap
    thanks,
    praveen

    Reply
  2. Hi Dr,
    Recently my friend bought this sarpaghanda from India for me. 100 tablets in one bottle. Its reduces my BP. I took one tablet each day but the bottle does not mentioned the mg.
    I had somemore thru friends but shall I continue takes and for how long? What is ghe side effect. It is almost 3/4 weeks I didn’t take the sarpagandha and BP increase back to 150/100.
    Pls advice. Tq

    Reply
    • A BP patient with a BP of 150/100 should never self medicate. Please consult your doctor immediately.

      Reply
  3. Hi sir ;
    I have got sarpagandha plant. How to use it for a better health . Does it help in building the body .

    Reply
    • Hi, it is not advisable to use sarpagandha plant in one’s own. It may vary blood pressure. Please consult your doctor. It may not help in body building.

      Reply
  4. Hi sir,
    I have been taking a product Carditone, which ingredients say contains 50mg Rauwolfia with good blood pressure results. I now have rauwolfia root powder I would like to take as replacement. Will dosage of root powder be the same 50mg?

    Reply
    • Hi, Assuming that that the Rauwolfia extract that you were taking was water soluble extract, around 285 mg of root would equate to 50 mg of extract. (Water soluble extractive of Root of Sarpagandha is 17.5 %) But I would suggest to start with 250 mg of root powder, once a day, with regular Blood pressure monitoring and adjust the dosage accordingly.
      But since Carditone contains other ingredients as well, better to consult an Ayurveda doctor for an appropriate substitute.

      Reply
  5. Hi

    How to avoid the side effects of Sarpagandha tablets? I used it for 3 months. After withdrwal it affected the mood and caused anxiety. How to recover from this fully. My suggestion is people with acidity should not use this.

    Reply
    • Hi, If you had taken Sarpagandha for mood / anxiety related disorder, it needs to be withdrawn very gradually over a period of 2 – 3 months, rather than abruptly. In many cases, Sarpagandha should be replaced with milder herbs like Ashwagandha, during the process of withdrawal to avoid adverse effects. All these things can be done only under medical supervision of an Ayurvedic doctor. Self medication with Sarpagandha is dangerous.

      Reply
  6. Sir I took ramdev babas mukta vati, and experienced impotence and depression although my BP came down to 120/80, but what about thea above problems, it contains sarpgandha, is the dose to high I was told to take 2 tablets twice daily before food, my BP without medicine is 140/90

    Reply
  7. This is a very good article for anyone looking for ayurvedic alternative for BP. I have a question. Does taking Sarpagandha cure the blood pressure? Or One will have to continue taking it daily to maintain normal range?

    Reply
    • Hi, Sarpagandha does not cure the blood pressure. if someone takes this (or any other BP medication) along with lifestyle and diet changes, then the need for medicines can be lowered over a period of 4 – 6 months.

      Reply
  8. Can stopping sarpgandha abruptly cause depression, anxiety, impotence, insomnia, shaking and rise in BP, why do all Ayurveda companies write no side effects

    Reply
  9. My BP is 140/100. What should be the dose of Serpina (Himalaya) 4 mg tablet per day? Should I take it before breakfast and bedtime OR before and after food?

    Reply
  10. Hello sir, does this herb help with insomnia also. I can not bring myself to sleep on time at night. This is effecting me on a daily basis from past few years.

    Also I have read about the effect of this herb as a sedative. How much dose should be taken for this purpose. I am also taking shilajit at night

    Reply
  11. Hello Doc!
    I had bp 180/100.
    Started taking 2 tabs twice daily and after 5 days, it is 129/71. Now changed to 1 tab twice.
    Now, what to do? When & how to stop taking pills?

    Reply
  12. iam taking sarpagandadi tablet after food daily one tablet and my BP controls just after 2 days . i heard that this herbal medicine will effect brain is it true please advise

    Reply
  13. You should consult an Ayurveda doctor directly for the right advice. Please note that a BP reading of 130/80 or 130/ 86 is quite normal. Do not try to reduce it further.

    Reply
  14. Hello,
    I am using 250mg rauwoulfia root powder daily. I would like to use Serpina tablets because they are more convenient to use.
    The tablets ingredient is Rauwoulfia serpentina total alkaloids chemically standardized 4 mg.
    what is the dosage of tablets to equal 250mg ground root?

    Thank you so much for your help.

    Reply
  15. I have been taking Sarpagandhadi gulika for past 3 years two tablets daily. recently i suffered giddiness and transhipment vision problem which was diagnosied due to low pulse rate. is this because of this medicine.

    Reply
  16. I have been taking one tablet of Cardostab (Combination Of Sarpagandha & Triphala) per day since January 2015 until now to treat my high BP problem. Based on my consultation from an Ayurvedic Doctor, he suggested me to take one tablet per day for 3 months and monitor my BP.

    However I have continued the treatment for 10 months now and my BP reading currently fluctuates between 140 – 130 / 80 – 95 and I’m in my early 30’s.

    Do you suggest me to continue my treatment course?

    Reply
  17. Dear sir, As we all are genetically different with different constitutions and patterns, we respond to treatments in many different ways that is why the inclination. Would advise you to take a expert opinion for the same because it needs outmost care at this stage.

    Reply
  18. Hello dr can u throw some light on serotonin and dopamine decrease caused by sarpgandha and whether it is good or bad for the body

    Reply
    • Hi, first up, Sarpagandha and reserpine are not equal. Reserpine is just one chemical compound of Sarpagandha herb. Effect of the herb Sarpagandha on serotonin and dopamin are not clearly know.
      Reserpine decreases serotonine and dopamine, hence useful in calming down hyperactive mind, excess thinking etc.

      Reply
  19. Hello sir, As you have very fluctuating Blood pressure would advise you to be under medical supervision. Please do not take any over the counter medication and worsen the symptoms.

    Note: As we all are genetically different with different constitutions and patterns, we respond to treatments in many different ways. Hence Standard Ayurvedic Treatments are always individually formulated. For specific treatment, always consult with a qualified Ayurvedic physician.

    Reply
  20. It is a very safe and natural treatment for hypertension. This herbal remedy can control the high blood pressure to some extent.

    Reply
  21. Hebbar Sir, I am 42 years and had been prescribed Biserpex 1 tab/day for my Mild BP (140/90). My BP is predominantly in the category of “white collar”, where it shoots up when at the doctor. It is is under control while taking the tablet. I have been prescribed long term use and have been taking for years now. For about 1 year now, I have been getting lower back pain and also pain in the thighs (typical of nervous issue, pinched nerve?). can this medicine cause nervous issues? Please let me know whether it is safe for long term use? I have tried stopping this a few times, but my BP then increases to 140/90 or 140/95 and also has kind of withdrawal symptoms like anxiety. Also felt that back-pain subsides during absence from this medicine. Thanks in advance for your kind advice. Is it safe to continue 1tab/day for long term?
    (composition of the tablet: Sarpagandha 75mg, Swet Chandan 3mg, Extract of : Jatamansi 20mg, Chopcheeni 6mg, Gokkhur 13mg, Takta punarnava 20mg, Bach 7mg, Haritaki 30mg, Kur 7mg, Berela 13mg, Bringaraja 20mg, Shushunishaak 30mg)

    Reply
  22. Hello Sir, I am schizophrenia patient . I want to take sarpagandha. How much dosage and how long do i need to take this. I m also planning to take jatamansi churna and bramhi grutha. Please advice.
    Thanks, Sharma

    Reply
  23. I took medicine of sarpagndha pill as per Dr advise 2 a day , from last 2 month , but now a days I started depression, and other bed dream at night , wt should I do.? is their is side effect of this pill.

    Reply
  24. Hi Dr. Thanks for your great information. I bought some Sarpagandha powder but it smells a bit like peanut butter, especially when you boil it with milk. Is that how its supposed to smell?

    Reply
  25. Hallo,
    could you consult about the better way to take raufolvia for treating psychosis and schizophrenia?
    Would tablets Serpina from Himalaya be advisable? How many tablets and for how long to take them?
    Should there be a time-off every two months e.g. , take withania and then start again?
    Thank you a lot
    (The person also has a bit high blood presuure)

    Reply
  26. Hello Dr J V Hebbar,

    The article and clarifications to queries are very informative and I am sure are useful to many.

    My BP was 200/110 some time back. I have been prescribed Telma 80mg 1 tab a day.
    BP reading is fluctuating. Some times it is just around 165/105 some times more.

    What dosage of Sarpagandha would help? Please help.

    Reply
  27. Hi, the BP is too high to be managed with Ayurvedic medicines.
    Continue consulting your allopathic doctor and bring it further down, as soon as possible.

    Reply
    • Hi, there are a few research made on its anti cancerous properties, but nothing is conclusive.
      Here is one
      von-Poser G, Andrade HH, Da-Silva KV, Henriques AT, Henriques
      JA, Genotoxic, mutagenic and recombinogenic effects of
      Rauvolfia alkaloids, Mutation Research Journal, 232, 1990, 37-43.

      Reply
  28. Hi Dr.

    I’m in trouble with Sarpagandha brand, CardiMap.

    I was taking for anxiety 2 tablets of 250mg 2x/day. I was having anxiety due to psych drug withdrawal.

    Now, I’m in withdrawal hell again after taking CardiMap for 3 months and further tapering psych drugs!

    The CardiMap helped me initially with sleep and I think for hypertension too but now, I’m fried.

    Lots if lethargy, apathy, shortness of breath, weakness. Plus now, anxiety too.

    It was stupid of me to self medicate and maybe it can be a lesson fir others…

    Also on: Cymbalta, Viibryd, Seroquel, and Klonopin.

    SHALL I COLD TURKEY, TAKE 1 TWICE A DAY, TAPER?

    Please assist.

    Thabks.

    Reply
  29. Hi sir, I have BP (160/100) ..i was told to have H,T Kot in morning and sarpagandha in night…Now the problem due to sarpagandha tablet ..i have headache/dizziness in the morning till eve. and also heard of its side effects..Could you lemme knw if only HT kot is enough to reduce HP

    Reply
  30. Dear Sir, I actually take 0,1mg reserpine as prescribed by my doctor with good success due to high blood pressure but want to change to Himalaya “Serpina”. Each 250 mg Serpina tablet contains 4 mg of Indian snakeroot extract. How high is the amount of reserpine in one tablet? So contains one tablet more or less than 0,1mg reserpine, what do you think?
    Thanks for your help!

    Reply
  31. Hi Dr J V Hebbar,

    Thank you for sharing such useful information, I would like to know which book of yours I can purchase that will have information like this about all the various types of plants and herbs.

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    Aman

    Reply
      • My niece is recently diagnosed to bipoler disorder … her mind is nt working properly three days passed with English medicines and no improvement yet … can you please suggest any ayurveda medicines … would be a kind help …

        Reply
  32. Would this herb be contraindicated in a person with ulcerative colitis trying to control hypertension naturally?

    Reply
  33. Thank you so much for responding!
    If taken with musta would it reduce that possibility ? and if punarnava is also added to these for the diuretic action .. would that be a recommended formulation for these conditions?

    Reply
  34. hi doctor ,,i came to know that my bp is fluctuating between 140-150 –90-100 ,i do not want to take English medicine ,i have just started sarpagandha vati once in day and arjunaristh 15 ml in night also i have started yoga and morning walk ,kindly suggest will it helpful or not in controlling bp ?

    also i have started rock salt in low amt instead of tata namak .

    pls suggest any thing else if it req.

    thanks

    Reply

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