What is Rauvolfia Serpentina? What are the Benefits of Indian snakeroot, Uses and Side Effects of Serpentine Root?

Table of Content

1. What is Rauvolfia Serpentina? 
2. History & Properties of Sarpgandha
3. Ayurvedic Properties & Dosha Balance
4. Active Compounds
5. Benefits 
6. Uses
7. Ayurvedic Recipes & Formulations
8. Best Times for Sarpgandha Intake
9. Factors to Consider for Maximum Effectiveness
10. Modern Medical Applications of Sarpgandha
11. Side Effects
12. Interactions with Medications
13. Different Forms of Sarpgandha Products
14. Choosing the Right Sarpgandha Product
15. Frequently Asked Question

1. What is Rauvolfia Serpentina? 

Sarpgandha, also known as Rauvolfia serpentina, is a plant that holds great historical significance and has been used for various traditional purposes. It is known for its beautiful flowers and medicinal properties. The plant has a long history of traditional use in various indigenous communities. Sarpgandha has been known and used by indigenous communities for centuries. It has a rich historical significance in traditional medicine practices, especially in South Asia, where it is native. The plant is also sometimes referred to as Indian snakeroot due to its use in treating snake bites.

It is a flowering and evergreen plant and found in sub-Himalayan moist forests in Sikkim, Assam in India, as well as in tropical parts of Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Africa, and the Americas.

The flowers are white and sometimes pinkish or red, the flowering time of the plant is March to May in India. The leaves are bright green and mainly found in whorls of three.

The fruits of the plant are green in color when young and purple when they are ripe, looking like a berry.

Rauvolfia Serpentina

2. History and Properties of Sarpgandha

Historical Significance

The serpentine root was introduced to modern medicine by Dr. Ganpath Sen and Dr. Kartik Chandra Bose, renowned Ayurvedic physicians of Kolkata. Based on studies they found that the root contains several alkaloids.

The quantity of alkaloids has been fairly high in the dried roots. The roots contain a lot of resin and starch and when incinerated provide ash consisting mainly of potassium carbonate, phosphate, silicate, and traces of iron and manganese. 

One of the most well-known uses of Sarpgandha is in the management of high blood pressure. The plant contains chemical compounds that have a calming effect on the body, which helps to lower blood pressure levels.

In Ayurveda Rauvolfia Serpentina roots are used for their medicinal benefits, it is light brown and tuberous and twisted looking like a snake in shape. Dried roots are mainly used. It is the most important and effective herb for high blood pressure and high blood sugar and sedative and tranquilizing effect.

It has carminative, hypotensive, sedative, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is bitter in aromatic, astringent, bitter in taste, and hot in potency. Sarpgandha root produces Alkaline reserpine, a plethora of phytonutrient compounds that have antihypertensive and antipsychotic effects on the human body.

Traditional Uses

Sarpgandha has multiple traditional uses. Here are a few of the most well-known ones:

Management of High Blood Pressure:

It has been used traditionally to help manage high blood pressure. The plant contains chemical compounds that have a calming effect on the body, which can help lower blood pressure levels.

Alleviation of Anxiety and Stress:

It has natural sedative properties, which means it can help relax the mind and body. It has been traditionally used to alleviate anxiety and stress, promoting a sense of calmness and tranquility.

Treatment of Mental Health Conditions:

It has been employed in traditional medicine to assist in the treatment of mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. It possesses antipsychotic properties that may help manage these conditions.

3. Ayurvedic Properties 

In Ayurveda, Sarpgandha is highly regarded for its medicinal properties. It has been used for centuries as a key herb in various Ayurvedic formulations. Let's explore its role in Ayurvedic medicine!

Ayurvedic properties of Rauvolfia serpentina:

1. Rasa (Taste): Sarpagandha is considered to have a bitter taste (Tikta Rasa).

2. Virya (Potency): It is cooling in nature (Sheeta Virya).

3. Vipaka (Post-digestive taste): The post-digestive taste is pungent (Katu Vipaka).

4. Dosha Effects: Rauvolfia serpentina primarily balances Pitta and Kapha doshas. Due to its cooling nature, it may increase Vata dosha in excess or for certain individuals.

Ayurvedic Uses:

  1. Hypertension Management: Sarpagandha is well-known for its antihypertensive properties. It helps in lowering blood pressure by acting on the cardiovascular system.

  2. Sedative and Anxiolytic: The herb has calming and sedative effects, making it beneficial for managing anxiety, stress, and insomnia.

  3. Cardiovascular Health: Sarpagandha supports heart health by regulating blood pressure and promoting healthy heart function.

  4. Nervous System Support: It is used to manage certain neurological disorders, such as tremors and convulsions.

  5. Mental Health: In Ayurveda, Sarpagandha is used to address certain mental health conditions, such as depression and hysteria.

  6. Antispasmodic: It has antispasmodic properties, which can help in relieving muscle spasms and cramps.

Dosha Balance

Ayurveda recognizes three primary life forces called doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each person has a unique combination of these doshas, and their balance is essential for optimal health.

Sarpgandha is believed to have a balancing effect on the doshas, primarily on Pitta and Kapha. It is thought to help pacify excessive Pitta, which represents fire and transformation in the body. Doing so, it may help cool and soothe Pitta-related imbalances.

Additionally, Sarpgandha is believed to have a grounding effect on Kapha dosha, which represents stability and structure. It may help alleviate Kapha-related concerns by promoting balance and reducing excess Kapha.

Buy Rauvolfia Serpentina Root Powder

4. Active Compound

Sarpgandha root also contains phytochemicals, which are natural compounds with potential health benefits. These compounds contribute to the plant's therapeutic properties. Here are some notable phytochemicals found in Sarpgandha root:

Reserpine:

Reserpine is one of the primary bioactive compounds found in Sarpgandha. It has been traditionally used for its antihypertensive properties, assisting in the management of high blood pressure.

Ajmalicine:

Ajmalicine is another compound present in Sarpgandha root. It has been studied for its potential vasodilatory effects, which means it can help relax blood vessels, aiding in blood pressure regulation.

Serpentine:

Serpentine is a phytochemical that has shown potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in scientific studies. Antioxidants help protect the body against harmful free radicals, while anti-inflammatory properties can support overall health and well-being.

5. What are the Health Benefits of Serpentine Root?

Sarpagandha is a well-known herb in Ayurveda science for its amazing effect, it balances Vata and Kapha doshas.

It is highly beneficial in detoxifying the poison of snakes, spiders, and Scorpios, it is also helpful in high fever and worm infestation. Indian snakeroot is an effective herb for lowering blood pressure and reducing fever.

It helps to stimulate uterine contractions and promote expulsion of the fetus. This however is not corroborated and may be regarded as folklore. 

Here are some awesome health benefits of serpentine 

For High blood pressure

The root powder of Sarpgandha / Rauvolfia Serpentina is beneficial in hypertension, it was reported that sarpgandha lowers systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

It is helpful to relax the blood vessels and regulate nerve function in the muscles which leads to the heart. It is found to be effective in lowering blood pressure.

Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine have preferred to use its root in powder form. Half tsp of powder with water, thrice a day is effective in relieving hypertension.

For Insomnia

Insomnia is a sleep disorder disease, in which a person is trying to sleep but is unable even if they have sufficient time.

According to Ayurveda disturbance of Vata dosha, disrupts the nervous system which leads to Insomnia.

Sarpgandha root powder contains alkaloids and holds a strong sedative that influences an agitated brain. It lowers mental stress, anxiety, and tension, calm the nervous system, and promotes restful sleep.

One dose of Rauvolfia Serpentina enables the patient of a phlegmatic and gouty nature to go to sleep. It is non-stimulating and for sound sleep should be given in a dose of 0.25gm to the patient at bedtime. 

A chronic patient should take 0.25 gm, both in the morning and at night before retiring.

For Skin

Sarpgandha has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, that fight off free radical damage in our body.

A combination of leaves and root powder is very useful in the treatment of damaged tissue in skin infection, injuries, and conditions like eczema, and psoriasis. It also treats boils, acne, and scar.

For High-Grade Fever

Sarpgandha contains analgesic and anti-pyretic properties which helps to reduce high fever, In Ayurveda, the main reason for fever is Ama, which is a toxin that persists in the body because of improper digestion.

Fever can be caused due to accumulation of amla. It brings down the body temperature to the normal range.

Hypertension Management

One of the primary benefits of Serpentine root is its ability to manage high blood pressure. The alkaloids present in the plant help relax blood vessels, reducing the strain on the heart and improving blood flow.

Anxiety and Depression

Serpentine root is known to have a calming effect on the mind and can be used to treat anxiety and depression. It has been shown to reduce anxiety levels and improve mood.

Pain Relief

Some research suggests that Serpentine root may help regulate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Diabetes

Some research suggests that Serpentine root may help regulate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Antioxidant

The plant contains antioxidants that can help protect against oxidative stress, which is linked to various chronic diseases.

Indian Snakeroot

6. Uses

The Indian snakeroot is available in three forms, powder, Ghan Vati, and capsules, there is no prescribed dosage of this herb.

You can also make a Sarpgandha tea to relax. Oral consumption of this herb is dependent upon case-to-case and person-to-person.

For safety concerns, reach out to an Ayurvedic doctor for better use of this herb. For external use first, try a small patch on your skin and check the allergic reaction and hypersensitivity, to avoid any harmful side effects on the skin.

7. Ayurvedic Recipes & Formulations

In Ayurveda, Sarpgandha is often combined with other herbs to create powerful formulations. Let's explore some synergistic herbs that are commonly used with Sarpgandha:

Sarpgandha with other herbs

Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is a popular herb known for its adaptogenic properties. When combined with Sarpgandha, it may enhance the stress-relieving and calming effects.

Brahmi: Brahmi is considered a brain tonic in Ayurveda, supporting mental clarity and cognitive function. It can be synergistic with Sarpgandha in promoting mental well-being.

Jatamansi: Jatamansi is an herb known for its calming and grounding properties. When combined with Sarpgandha, it can further enhance the sedative and relaxation effects.

Shankhpushpi: Shankhpushpi is often used in Ayurvedic formulations for its memory-enhancing and brain-boosting benefits. It can complement the mental health support provided by Sarpgandha.

Tagar (Valeriana wallichii): Tagar is an herb that is often used in Ayurveda for its calming and sedative properties. When combined with Sarpgandha, it may enhance relaxation and sleep-supporting effects.

Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia): Guduchi is a versatile herb known for its immune-boosting and detoxifying properties. When combined with Sarpgandha, it may provide additional support to the overall health and well-being of the body.

Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna): Arjuna is an herb commonly used for cardiovascular health. When combined with Sarpgandha, it can complement the blood pressure-regulating effects and promote a healthy heart.

Amalaki (Emblica officinalis): Amalaki, also known as Indian gooseberry, is a potent antioxidant and rejuvenating herb. When combined with Sarpgandha, it may provide additional support for overall health and vitality.

Formulations

Sarpgandha Churna

This is a powdered form of Sarpgandha root. It is often used in Ayurvedic preparations to address hypertension. A common dosage is half a teaspoon of Sarpgandha Churna mixed with water, taken three times a day.

Sarpgandha Ghrita

Ghrita refers to medicated ghee. Sarpgandha Ghrita is prepared by mixing Sarpgandha root powder with ghee. It is believed to have a calming effect on the mind and is used in Ayurveda to manage anxiety and insomnia.

Sarpgandha Kashayam

Kashayam is a herbal decoction prepared by boiling herbs in water. Sarpgandha Kashayam is used to regulate blood pressure and promote cardiovascular health. It is typically consumed in small quantities under the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner.

Sarpgandha Taila

Taila means oil, and Sarpgandha Taila is an oil infusion of Sarpgandha root. It is applied topically for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, making it useful for conditions like arthritis and muscle pain.

Recipes

Sarpagandhadi Vati:

Ingredients:

  • Sarpgandha root powder
  • Jatamansi powder
  • Shankhpushpi powder
  • Vacha (sweet flag) powder
  • Brahmi powder
  • Ashwagandha powder

Method:

Combine all the powders in equal proportions. Mix them thoroughly to create a well-blended powder. This formulation can be consumed as per the dosage recommended by an Ayurvedic practitioner. It is commonly used for managing hypertension and promoting relaxation.

Buy Jatamansi Powder
Buy Shankhpushpi Powder
Buy Vacha Powder
Buy Brahmi Powder
Buy Ashwagandha Powder
Brahmi-Sarpagandha Taila (Oil):

Ingredients:

  • Brahmi powder
  • Sarpgandha root powder
  • Sesame oil or coconut oil

Method:

Take equal parts of Brahmi powder and Sarpgandha root powder. Mix them well. Heat sesame oil or coconut oil in a pan and add the herbal mixture to it. Stir gently and let the herbs infuse in the oil on low heat for about 20-30 minutes. Once cooled, strain the oil and store it in a clean, airtight container. This oil can be used for head massage, especially for promoting relaxation, calming the mind, and supporting mental well-being.

Sarpagandha-Ashwagandha Ghrita (Medicated Ghee):

Ingredients:

  • Sarpgandha root powder
  • Ashwagandha powder
  • Ghee (clarified butter)

Method:

Take equal parts of Sarpgandha root powder and Ashwagandha powder. Heat ghee in a pan and add the herbal powder to it. Stir well and let the mixture cook on low heat for about 10-15 minutes. Once cooled, strain the ghee, and store it in a clean, airtight container. This medicated ghee can be consumed as per the dosage recommended by an Ayurvedic practitioner. It is commonly used for its calming and stress-relieving properties.

Saraswatarishta:

Ingredients:

  • Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) powder
  • Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis) powder
  • Sarpgandha (Rauvolfia serpentina) root powder
  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) powder
  • Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi) powder
  • Cardamom powder
  • Honey or jaggery (as a sweetener)
  • Water

Method:

Take equal parts of Brahmi, Shankhpushpi, Sarpgandha, Ashwagandha, and Jatamansi powders. Mix them well. In a clean glass jar, add this herbal mixture along with cardamom powder, honey or jaggery (as per taste), and water. Close the lid tightly and leave it to ferment for 4-6 weeks. After fermentation, strain the liquid and store it in a clean bottle. Saraswatarishta is a popular Ayurvedic tonic used to support memory, concentration, and overall mental well-being. It is typically consumed in small doses after meals.

Arjuna-Sarpgandha Kwath:

Ingredients:

  • Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna) bark powder
  • Sarpgandha (Rauvolfia serpentina) root powder
  • Water

Method:

Take equal parts of Arjuna bark powder and Sarpgandha root powder. In a saucepan, add the herbal powders to the water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain the liquid and consume it warm. This combination is often used to support cardiovascular health and manage blood pressure.

Triphala-Sarpgandha Churna:

Ingredients:

  • Triphala powder (a combination of Amalaki, Bibhitaki, and Haritaki)
  • Sarpgandha (Rauvolfia serpentina) root powder

Method:

Take equal parts of Triphala powder and Sarpgandha root powder. Mix them well to create a powdered blend. This churna can be consumed by mixing 1-2 teaspoons with warm water or honey. Triphala-Sarpgandha churna is believed to promote overall health, balance doshas, and support digestive function.

Please note that these recipes are for informational or guidance purposes only, and it is important to consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner or herbalist before preparing and using any Ayurvedic formulations.

Buy Triphala Powder

8. Best Times for Sarpgandha Intake

In Ayurveda, Sarpgandha is generally recommended to be taken during specific times of the day to align with the body's natural rhythms and enhance its therapeutic effects. The following timings are commonly suggested:

Morning: Sarpgandha can be taken in the morning, preferably after breakfast. This allows the herb to support mental clarity, balance stress levels, and promote a calm state of mind throughout the day.

Evening: Another suitable time for Sarpgandha consumption is in the early evening, after dinner. This can help promote relaxation, support a restful sleep, and aid in managing hypertension.

9. Factors to Consider for Maximum Effectiveness

To ensure maximum effectiveness when consuming Sarpgandha, consider the following factors:

Consistency:

It is recommended to take Sarpgandha regularly as prescribed by an Ayurvedic practitioner. Consistency in taking the herb allows the body to benefit from its therapeutic properties over time.

Empty Stomach:

Sarpgandha is generally advised to be taken after meals to prevent any potential stomach discomfort. However, if your Ayurvedic practitioner recommends taking it on an empty stomach for specific reasons, follow their guidance.

Lifestyle and Routine:

Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of a balanced lifestyle and routine. Supporting a healthy lifestyle, including proper sleep, regular exercise, and a nutritious diet, can enhance the overall effectiveness of Sarpgandha and promote well-being.

10. Modern Medical Applications of Sarpgandha

While Sarpgandha has deep roots in traditional medicine, modern science has also recognized its potential in various medical applications. Here are some of the contemporary uses of Sarpgandha:

Antihypertensive Medication:

The alkaloids present in Sarpgandha, particularly reserpine, have been isolated and used in the production of antihypertensive drugs. These drugs help regulate blood pressure and are prescribed for individuals with hypertension.

Antipsychotic Medication

Sarpgandha's reserpine alkaloid has antipsychotic properties and has been used in the treatment of certain mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Antiarrhythmic Effects

Ajmaline, another alkaloid found in Sarpgandha, has antiarrhythmic properties and is used to manage irregular heart rhythms.

Anti-Anxiety Medication

Due to its sedative and anxiolytic effects, Sarpgandha has been explored as a natural remedy for anxiety disorders and generalized anxiety.

Insomnia Treatment

Sarpgandha's ability to induce restful sleep has led to its inclusion in some over-the-counter sleep aids and supplements.

11. Traditional Formulations and Recipes

Throughout its history, Sarpgandha has been featured in various traditional formulations and recipes in Ayurveda. Here are some examples of how Sarpgandha is used in these formulations:

Sarpgandha Churna

This is a powdered form of Sarpgandha root. It is often used in Ayurvedic preparations to address hypertension. A common dosage is half a teaspoon of Sarpgandha Churna mixed with water, taken three times a day.

Sarpgandha Ghrita

Ghrita refers to medicated ghee. Sarpgandha Ghrita is prepared by mixing Sarpgandha root powder with ghee. It is believed to have a calming effect on the mind and is used in Ayurveda to manage anxiety and insomnia.

Sarpgandha Kashayam

Kashayam is a herbal decoction prepared by boiling herbs in water. Sarpgandha Kashayam is used to regulate blood pressure and promote cardiovascular health. It is typically consumed in small quantities under the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner.

Sarpgandha Taila

Taila means oil, and Sarpgandha Taila is an oil infusion of Sarpgandha root. It is applied topically for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, making it useful for conditions like arthritis and muscle pain.

12. Side effects

Sarpgandha / Indian snakeroot is an Ayurveda herbal medicine, it generally does not trigger any minor or major side effects if it’s taken in a prescribed manner. But some side effects can cause due to physical conditions and dosage, which are mentioned below.

  • If the Indian snakeroot is not used in the prescribed dosage, then it may cause nausea, abdominal cramps, loss of appetite, nasal congestion, skin rashes, and drowsiness.
  • It is not safe for pregnant ladies, and breastfeeding women.
  • It is not safe to take sarpgandha in gallstone condition, it may worsen the situation.
  • Do not take if you are suffering from stomach ulcers and ulcerative colitis.
  • It may react with some prescribed medication and should not be taken with a hypotensive drug.
  • In some cases, sarpgandha can cause vomiting, and swelling in the lower legs.
  • Do not take sarpgandha if there is a surgical procedure that happened, stop taking it before 2 weeks of planned surgery.
  • If you are diabetic and on other medication then do not take Sarpgandha, it may drop the sugar level too low.
  • It is highly recommended that do not take sarpgandha if someone is depressed.

Some drugs may interact with Sarpgandha, you should avoid taking Sarpgandha when you are on the below-listed medicine or consult your Ayurvedic doctor first.

Digoxin, Levodopa Anti-depressants, Anti-psychotic drugs, Stimulant drugs, Anti-diabetic drugs, Anti-hypertensive drugs, Anti-coagulants/ anti-platelet drugs.

13. Interactions with Medications

It's essential for individuals taking medications to be aware of potential interactions with Sarpgandha, especially if they are using it for medicinal purposes. Some common medications that may interact with Sarpgandha include:

  • Antihypertensive drugs (e.g., beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers)
  • Antidepressants (e.g., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants)
  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Anticoagulants (blood thinners)
  • Sedatives and hypnotics

14. Different Forms of Sarpgandha Products

The different forms of Sarpgandha (Rauvolfia serpentina) products, including whole root, powdered extracts, capsules, and tablets, in a more human interactive way.

Whole Root

Sarpgandha is a medicinal plant, and one of the ways it is used is in its whole root form. The whole root of Sarpgandha is typically harvested, cleaned, and dried. It can be used in various preparations, such as decoctions or teas, where the dried root is boiled in water to extract its beneficial properties. Some people prefer using the whole root as it is, either by chewing it or making a tincture. Using the whole root allows you to experience the herb in its most natural and unprocessed form.

Powdered Extracts

Powdered extracts of Sarpgandha are another popular form of the herb. The roots are typically dried and finely ground to create a powdered extract. This form offers convenience and ease of use. You can find Sarpgandha powdered extracts available in the market or from Ayurvedic practitioners. The powdered extract can be easily mixed into warm water, honey, or other beverages for consumption. It allows for accurate dosing and easy assimilation of the herb's active compounds into the body.

Capsules and Tablets

Sarpgandha is also available in the form of capsules and tablets. In this form, the powdered extract or standardized extract of Sarpgandha root is encapsulated or compressed into tablet form. Capsules and tablets are convenient for those who prefer a standardized and precise dosage. They are easy to swallow and eliminate the need for measuring and mixing powders. Sarpgandha capsules and tablets are commonly found in health stores or can be prescribed by healthcare professionals.

15. Choosing the Right Sarpgandha Product

 Dosage Recommendations

Determining the appropriate dosage of Sarpgandha is important for its safe and effective use. The dosage can vary depending on factors such as age, health condition, and the form of the product. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, such as an Ayurvedic practitioner or herbalist, who can provide personalized dosage recommendations based on your specific needs.

Choosing a Reputable Brand

When selecting a Sarpgandha product, it is important to choose a reputable brand that adheres to quality standards and follows good manufacturing practices.

Note: This post is about educating about the benefits and uses of Bishop weed, consult the Ayurvedic doctor before starting.

15. Frequently Asked Question


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