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What are the Uses and Health Benefits of Indian Snakeroot (Rauwolfia Serpentina)?

Indian Snakeroot, Rauwolfia serpentina

What is Indian Snakeroot (Rauwolfia Serpentina)?

Originating from India and dating back to the origin of Ayurvedic science, Indian snakeroot (Rauwolfia serpentina) has been a medicinal plant of great importance.

This plant has a very interesting story. This plant has been described by Master Charak by the name Sarpagandha as a useful antidote against snake bite and insect stings.

Rauwolfia is an evergreen shrub and member of Apocynaceae family.

It has a shiny, black or purple round fruits and has small pink or white flowers.

This plant species is a matter of serious concern as it is utilized in traditional as well as modern systems of treatment.

In Ayurveda, Sarpagandha is considered as a whole plant and not merely the alkaloid - reserpine.

  • Botanical Name: Rauwolfia serpentina
  • Family: Apocyanaceae
  • English Name: Indian snakeroot, Rauvolfia root, serpentine root
  • Hindi Name: Chota chand, Nayi, Nakulikand, Rasna
  • Sanskrit Name: Chandramara, Dhaavati

What are the Medicinal Qualities of Rauwolfia Serpentina?

  • Rasa (Taste): Bitter
  • Guna (Qualities): Dry
  • Vipaka: Undergoes pungent taste after digestion
  • Veerya (Potency): Hot
  • Effect on Tridosha: It balances Vata and Kapha doshas.

Which Part of the Plant is Used for the Medicinal Purpose?

The roots of the herb are used for medicinal purposes as its root contains the highest amounts of active substances which are beneficial in anti-anxiety and has anti-hypertensive and relaxing effects.

What is the Chemical Constitution of Rauwolfia Serpentina?

It contains Ajmalicidine, Ajmalicine, Rouhimbine, Indobinine, Reserpiline, Aricine, Rescinnamidine, Isoreserpine, Indobine, Serpentinine, Yohimbine etc.

The main active constituent of Rauwolfia serpentina is Reserpine. Reserpine is well known for its anti-hypertensive and anti-psychotic action.

What are the Medicinal Properties of Rauwolfia Serpentina?

  • Anti-hypertensive
  • Hypnotic
  • Sedative
  • Anti-microbial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-diuretic
  • Anti-anxiety
  • Anti-proliferative

What are the Therapeutic Indications of Rauwolfia Serpentina?

  • High Blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • Insomnia (Sleeplessness)
  • Intestinal Worms
  • High-Grade fever as it reduces fever and feeling of restlessness and discomfort
  • Snakebite
  • Uncontrolled outburst of fear and emotions
  • A Whooping cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Dysentery
  • Abdominal pain due to constipation
  • Hangover due to excessive alcohol intake
  • Uterine pain after miscarriage

What are the Medicinal Uses of Rauwolfia Serpentina?

  • Sarpgandha roots are used for calming the central nervous system.
  • It is also useful in reducing anxiety and schizophrenia.
  • It is also used in the treatment of high blood pressure, dysmenorrhea, snakebite, insomnia, mental disorders, whooping cough, epilepsy, breathing troubles etc.

What are the Health Benefits of Rauwolfia Serpentine?

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Hypertension is a common problem faced by millions of people around the world. Although millions of dollars are spent annually for the treatment and detection of cardio-vascular disease, current conventional treatments have limited scope in reducing the patients suffering from hypertension.

  • Rauwolfia serpentine, when used in crude form, does not cause any side effects. Ayurveda recommends using sarpagandha in its natural form as a whole root powder.
  • Reserpine is an indole alkaloid which has anti-hypertensive and tranquilizing properties.
  • In Hypertension, the paste of its roots mixed with rose water and rock candy is administered to the patient.

Stress and Anxiety

Chewing the root of Indian snake wood can quickly sooth the mind and eliminates stress and anxiety.

  • It impacts hormones on the body that can relax the mind and provides relief from stress and anxiety.

Stomach Relief

It has been used in gastrointestinal stress as an effective remedy for thousands of years.

  • It is used in the treatment of diarrhea and constipation.
  • It cleanses the stomach and promotes its normal functioning.
  • Due to its relaxing effect, it can relieve constipation.

Anti-inflammatory Property

Its anti-inflammatory effect has been known for millennia.

  • Due to its anti-inflammatory effects, it is used against snake bite, insect bite or any other kind of inflamed wound.
  • It can effectively neutralize the toxins of various bites and venoms and also reduce the pain and inflammation of the affected area.
  • Its anti-inflammatory property makes it an effective remedy for arthritis, gout, and tendinitis as well.
  • It is also known to reduce fever.

Menstrual Problems

Indian snakeroot reduces menstrual pain as well.

  • For women, who suffer through difficult menstruation, this plant is a simple solution for them.
  • It induces menstruation and has anti-inflammatory and mood-modulating properties.
  • It can eliminate cramps, bloating and mood swings that commonly occur during menstruation.
  • It also provides relief in uterine pain occurring after a miscarriage. The cause of pain is the inability of the uterus to expel the residue from the uterine cavity.
  • Sarpagandha stimulates the contractions of uterine muscles which helps in eliminating the toxins from the uterine cavity.

Skin Diseases

Sarpagandha can be used in the treatment of various skin disorders such as urticaria. The common symptom of urticaria is intense itching.

  • This herb can be used to treat skin infections as it is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent.
  • Hence, Sarpagandha is commonly used to treat boils, acne, eczema, and cellulitis.


Sarpagandha possesses sedative properties. Hence, it is useful in treating insomnia.

  • Sleeplessness is caused due to the hyperactivity of the mind which can be well-managed by the use of this herb.
  • It produces a mild-hypnotic effect which helps to induce sleep.

What are the Other Uses of Rauwolfia Serpentine?

  • The juice of the leaves of Sarpagandha is instilled into the eyes and is used as a remedy for the removal of opacities of the cornea.
  • The juice or decoction of this plant is used as an effective medicine in treating hysteria and epilepsy.
  • The decoction of its root is also used to cure pimples and boils.
  • Its root is also used to enhance uterine contraction to facilitate or ease childbirth.

What are the Side Effects of Rauwolfia serpentina?

Most of the adverse effects of reserpine are due to its effect on C.N.S. sedation, more serious in the occasional psychotic depression that can lead to suicide.

  • It is contraindicated in the ulcer, hyperacidity, renal disorders, and bronchial asthma.
  • It stimulates the uterus so this herb should not be taken in pregnancy and after child birth.
  • It is not suitable to be used in the cases of depression.


  • It should be used in patients with caution who are mentally as well as physically weak.
  • Its withdrawal should be done gradually, rather than abruptly.

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