Sarpagandha, Rauwolfia serpentina

Description of Plant

Rauwolfia serpentina is an evergreen, erect glabrous perennial shrub that normally grows up to a height of 60 cm.

Roots of this herb are tuberous with a cork of a pale brown color.

Leaves of this plant are generally found in whorls of three, and are bright green colored above and pale green colored below. The base of the leaves is slender and tapering in nature. The petioles of this plant are long.

The flowers are white in color, sometimes violet in color and contains nectar at the deep of the corolla tubes Peduncles are long enough while the pedicles are stout. The calyx is bright red in color. The corolla is usually longer than the calyx. Drupes of this plant are slightly connate, ovoid and are of purplish black color. The flowering period of this plant is March to May in India.

Its fruit are oval fleshy and tiny which turn shiny purple-black on ripening.

General Description

Rauwolfia serpentina has been known for its medicinal value. It is one of the finest remedy that is widely used for high blood pressure and is also as sedative and tranquillizing agent.

Rauwolfia serpentina comprises of many bioactive chemicals with more than 50 different alkaloids. Out of 50 alkaloids, main alkaloids present are ajmaline, ajmalicine, indobine, indobinine, ajmalimine, serpentine, serpentinine deserpidine, reserpine, reserpiline, rescinnamine, rescinnamidine, and yohimbine. Reserpine is quiet useful alkaloid of this plant. About 90 percent of these alkaloids are found in the tuberous roots of this plant.


  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Division: Magnoliophyta
  • Class: Magnoliopsida
  • Order: Gentianales
  • Family: Apocynaceae
  • Genus: Rauwolfia
  • Species: Serpentina


This plant is found in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Burma as well as in Thailand. In India, it is distributed in the sub-Himalayan tract from Punjab to Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan and it is also found in the lower hills of Gangetic plains, Andaman, Eastern and Western Ghats. In India, it is found in moist deciduous forest and shady areas at a height of 4000 feet above the sea level. It is never found growing in bulk at a single place. In short, it is widely cultivated in many parts of the India.


  • English Name - Sepentina root, Black snakeroot, Rauwolfia 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 – Shégēn mù, yìndù shémù
  • Burmese Name – Bongmaiza

Ayurvedic Properties

Hindi / Sanskrit English
Rasa Tikta Taste Bitter
Guna Rooksha Physical Property Dry
Virya Ushna Potency Hot
Vipaka Katu Metabolic Property (After Digestion) Pungent

Effects on Doshas

It balances Vata and Kapha dosha.

Classical Categorization

Sushrut Samhita Dhanwantari Nighantu Priynighantu Sodhala nighantu

Aparajita Gana (Uttara Tantra)

Karveeradi varga

Shatpuchpadi varga

Guduchyadi varga, Kerveeradi varga

Ancient Verse about Rauwolfia serpentina

Ancient Verse about Rauwolfia serpentina

The Bhavprakash nighantu edition of 1998: verse 165-166 page no- 83-86

The names and the properties of sarpagandha are Nakulik, Sursa, Nagsugandha, Gandhanakuli, Nakuleshta, Bhujdrakshi, Sarpadhri and Vishnashani. It is astringent, bitterand pungent in taste and hot in potency. It detoxifies poisons of snake, spiders scorpio and mouse. It also manages fever, wound and worm infestation.


The Bhavprakash nighantu with elaborated Hindi commentary by Padmashri prof. K.C. Chunekar, edited by Dr. G.S. Pandey: edition of 1998: verse 165-166 page no- 83-86.

Practical Uses of Rauwolfia serpentina

  • Sarpgandha has property to maintain the balances of Vata and pitta Dosha in the body.
  • Sarpagandha has ability to reduce the heart rate and dilates blood vessels with lowering of blood pressure.
  • Very useful treatment in high blood sugar, having a special property for lowering blood pressure.
  • It is also a suitable remedy for insomnia, hysteria and hypertensive patients.
  • It benefits in relieving hysteria. One gram powder of root can be taken 3 times with milk every day.
  • This herb has good use in case of cataract.
  • Effective in plague and fever.
  • Sarpagandha is useful remedy in Schizophrenia.
  • It is often used as sedative and tranquilizer in different countries.
  • Rauwolfia serpentina has found to be useful in treatment of anxiety, psychosis and epilepsy.
  • It is also quiet efficient herb for colic and cholera.
  • The root of this plant is given in difficult childbirth.
  • It is useful in uterine contraction.
  • It is used in several part of the world for the treatment of snake (cobra), scorpion or reptile bite and stings of any poisonous insects.
  • Since ages its extract is being used against dysentery.
  • It has been used as a remedy for hypochondria, mental disorders and a certain form of insanity. It is as well-known Medicine for the mentally upset people.
  • Rauwolfia serpentina has also been in use in the treatment of intractable skin disorder as in conditions psoriasis, excessive sweating and itching.
  • It is useful in irregular heart beat in old age.
  • Sarpagandha has ability to treat Goitre.
  • This herb is also beneficial in some of gynecological problems like frigidity. Sarpagandha is effectively used in other conditions like rheumatism, edema and intestinal diseases.
  • It is also good in constipation and dizziness.
  • It can regularizes menstruation when used as a mixture with ginger and black pepper

Part Used

Roots and Leaves of Sarpagandha are used.


  • Roots powder should be --- (for normalizing high blood pressure) - 1-2 gm.
  • For restlessness, anxiety and inducing sleep - 3-6 gm.


Although sarpagandha is Ayurvedic and have healthy effects but sometime it may results in some side effects are like:

  • Swelling may occur in feet and lower legs
  • Diarrhea, nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite

Ayurvedic Product of Rauwolfia serpentine by Planet Ayurveda

Sarpagandhaghan Vati

Sarpagandhaghan Vati is a natural supplement provided by Planet Ayurveda, containing Sarpagandha extract in it. This is a 100 percent natural product that supports healthy blood pressure.

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