Thursday, 5 August 2010
Kingdom : Plantae
Family : Apocynaceae
Genus : Rauwolfia
Species : Rauwolfia serpentina
Scientific Name : Rauwolfia serpentina
The use of rauwolfia is recorded in Hindu texts dating from around 500 B.C. In the West, it was unknown until 1943, when an Indian doctor wrote an article about the plant, emphasizing the efficiency of its sedative effects in treating high blood pressure. In the United States, reserpine had a rapid success in replacing the use of electric shock therapy and lobotomy for mental disorders
Rauvolfia serpentina, commonly known as or Indian Snakeroot or Sarpagandha, contains a number of bioactive chemicals, including ajmaline, aricine, corynanthine, deserpidine, lankanescine, rauwolscine, rescinnamine, reserpine, reserpiline, isoreserpine, isoreserpiline, serpentinine, and yohimbine
Reserpine is an alkaloid first isolated from R. serpentina and was widely used as an antihypertensive drug. It had drastic psychological side effects and has been replaced as a first-line antihypertensive drug by other compounds that lack such adverse effects, although combination drugs that include it are still available in some countries as second-line antihypertensive drugs.
Other plants of this genus are also used medicinally, both in conventional western medicine and in Ayurveda, Unani, and folk medicine. Alkaloids in the plants reduce blood pressure, depress activity of the central nervous system and act as hypnotics.
Rauwolfia serpentina, also known as "rauvolfia," "Indian snakeroot" and "serpentwood," is a woody evergreen sub-shrub, originally from India, Indochina, Borneo, Sri Lanka and Sumatra. Its roots, which have a bitter taste, contain reserpine, an alkaloid substance with a powerful sedative effect that has various medicinal uses. Some herbalists, though, discourage the use of rauwolfia because of the numerous adverse reactions it may cause.
Significant increase in blood pressure might occur when the drug is taken along with cough and flu medicine or appetite suppressants. Alcohol should not be consumed in association with reserpine because it can cause severe impairment of reactions. Anti-psychotics and barbiturates increase the drug's effects. If taken in combination with digitalis glycosides, it can cause slow heart rate. The drug effects are reduced and other undesired muscle movement effects may occur when it is taken in association with levodopa (medication for Parkinson's disease).
Women who are pregnant, may be pregnant, or plan pregnancy in the near future should not ingest Rauvolfia plants or preparations made from them. They may also be harmful for people with any chronic disease of the gastrointestinal tract, such as stomach or duodenal ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (reflux esophagitis), ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and diverticulosis. No "safe" dosage has been established