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Sarpagandha – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, Precautions & More

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The content has been written by a medical expert.

Introduction:

Sarpagandha Ghan Vati is an Ayurvedic medicine derived from sarpagandha, a valuable root obtained from the flowering plant, Rauwolfia serpentina.1

In Sanskrit, Sarpagandha refers to snakeroot as the plant’s root is twisted and resembles a snake. Alkaline reserpine is a compound produced by Sarpagandha which has antihypertensive and antipsychotic effects on the human body.

Sarpagandha Benefits & Therapeutic Uses Are:

Rauvolfia serpentina roots, the Indian snakeroot, devil’s pepper or serpentine wood (Sarpagandha). Sarpagandha is also known to have many medicinal properties. These include

  • Improving blood sugar levels
  • Anti-bacterial properties
  • Anti-diarrheal properties
  • Improving heart rhythm
  • Sedative properties
  • Improving digestion
  • Laxative properties

Alkaline reserpine obtained from the plant is the principal active component. Sarpagandha Ghan Vati improves symptoms of hypertension, insomnia (sleeplessness), anxiety, irritability, constipation, fever, and manias.4

This medication is also useful in conditions like sexual aggression and vertigo. It contains hypnotic and sedative properties. Sarpagandha is widely used in the treatment of schizophrenia.1

Uses of Sarpagandha Root:

  • From ancient times, serpentina roots, and juice have been thought to have therapeutic value, attracting the attention of physicians.3
  • The roots of this plant are rich in reserpine alkaloid which is used in the production of sleep-inducing and blood pressure-lowering drugs.3
  • The root of this plant is used in folk and tribal medicine to induce uterine contractions and facilitate the expulsion of the fetus. It is also an effective treatment for painful bowel disorders.3
  • Roots of this plant are used to treat a variety of disorders related to the central nervous system.3

Uses of Sarpagandha Leaves:

  • The leaves of this plant are used in herbal pastes for the treatment of snake bites and wounds.2
  • The juice obtained from the leaves of Rauwolfia serpentina helps remove opacities from the corneas of the eyes.
  • Fresh leaf pieces from the plant are consumed to reduce blood pressure, promote infant birth, and manage mental conditions, wounds, and snake bites.3

Benefits of Sarpagandha for High Blood Pressure:

  • The powder derived from Sarpagandha roots is an excellent natural remedy for treating hypertension.
  • Sarpagandha lowers blood pressure and improves blood circulation by dilating the blood vessels and controlling nerve function in the muscles that lead to the heart.6

Benefits of Sarpagandha for the brain:

Benefits of Sarpagandha for Anxiety:

  • Sarpagandha is beneficial in the treatment of anxiety symptoms.
  • As per Ayurveda, Vata is responsible for all body movements and nervous system processes.
  • An imbalance in Vata is the primary cause of anxiety.
  • Due to its Vata-balancing properties, Sarpagandha aids in improving anxiety symptoms.6

Benefits of Sarpagandha for Insomnia (Sleeplessness):

  • People have trouble sleeping even after a tiring day when they have insomnia.
  • When combined with other ingredients, Sarpagandha has been reported to be effective in the management of insomnia.
  • A disturbed Vata dosha, according to Ayurveda, disrupts the nervous system, resulting in insomnia.
  • Sarpagandha’s sleep-inducing properties help to calm the nervous system and promote restful sleep.7

Benefits of Sarpagandha for Fever:

  • Sarpagandha also contains properties that help in reducing fever.
  • Ama, in Ayurveda, is a toxin that persists in the body because of improper digestion. Fever may be caused due to accumulation of Ama in the body.6
  • Sarpagandha has a property called Ushna that aids in reducing fever.
  • It is also reported that Sarpagandha exhibits some laxative properties that help in relieving constipation.6

Benefits of Sarpagandha for skin:

  • Sarpagandha is also used to treat various skin problems like boils and acne.
  • It is also used in various places across India for treating scabies.7

Also Read: 16 Home Remedies for Glowing Skin

Other Benefits of Sarpagandha:

  • The dry roots of Sarpagandha are made into pills and are used in the treatment of malaria. Sarpagandha is used as a constituent in various herbal medications to reduce malarial fever within just a week.8
  • Indian snakeroot is also known to be helpful in the management of eye diseases and in the initial phases of pneumonia.8
  • The powder or juice obtained from the plant is used by some local tribes to treat asthma.
  • Sarpagandha is used in Rajasthan and Bangladesh for treating headaches.8

How to Use Sarpagandha?

Sarpagandha is available in three forms:6,9

  1. Sarpagandha powder
  2. Sarpagandha Ghan Vati
  3. Sarpagandha capsule

Your Ayurvedic physician will prescribe you the form and dosage as per your health condition.

Side Effects of Sarpagandha:

 The most common side effects of Rauwolfia Serpentina (sarpagandha) include nasal congestion (nose block) and dryness of the mouth. Some other reported side effects are:10

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Drowsiness and convulsions
  • Symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease
  • Diarrhea

Also Read: Chirata – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, & Precautions

Precautions & Warnings to Be Taken with Sarpagandha:

Sarpagandha is unsafe to use in the following medical conditions:8

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding- It is not safe to use Sarpagandha during pregnancy as the chemicals present in the medicine may lead to birth defects. These chemicals can also enter the breast milk and might harm the baby.
  • Gall stones- Rauwolfia Serpentina is not recommended if you have gall stones, as it might worsen the condition.
  • Stomach ulcers and ulcerative colitis- Sarpagandha is contraindicated in these conditions as they could make the condition worse.
  • Allergy to alkaline reserpine- Sarpagandha is not advised if you are allergic to reserpine or similar medications.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy- It is essential to stop taking Sarpagandha a week before initiating electroconvulsive therapy.
  • Surgery- It is claimed that Sarpagandha will interfere with surgical procedures by elevating blood pressure and heart rate. Therefore, it is essential to stop taking the medicine at least 2 weeks before a planned surgery.
  • Depression- Sarpagandha can lead to depression, particularly in individuals who have previously suffered from depression.
  • Diabetes: Blood sugar levels can be reduced by using Indian snakeroot. When combined with other diabetes medications, it may cause blood sugar levels to drop too low.

Also Read: Shikakai – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

Interactions with Other Drugs:

It is essential to keep in mind not to use Sarpagandha with any of these medications:11

  • Digoxin- This drug helps a damaged heart pump more strongly. Sarpagandha slows down the heartbeat. Digoxin’s effect on heart rate might be interrupted when Sarpagandha is taken along with digoxin.
  • Levodopa- Parkinson’s disease is treated with levodopa. Taking Indian snakeroot with levodopa could reduce levodopa’s effectiveness and should consumed with caution.
  • Anti-depressants- Sarpagandha has a chemical that has effects on the body. This chemical might aggravate the side effects of a few anti-depressants drugs like phenelzine and tranylcypromine. It is important to consult with your doctor if you are taking any such medicines.
  • Anti-psychotic drugs- Sarpagandha has a calming effect. Medications for psychosis (mental conditions) help you relax. Taking Sarpagandha along with a few anti-psychotic drugs may increase the risk of side effects of antipsychotic drugs.
  • Stimulant drugs- These medications stimulate the nervous system and make you feel restless. They also increase your heart rate by stimulating the nervous system. Sarpagandha may also help to boost the performance of the nervous system. Taking Sarpagandha with stimulants might lead to dangerous effects like increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure. Some stimulant medications include epinephrine and pseudoephedrine.
  • Anti-diabetic drugs- These drugs are used to lower blood sugar levels. Sarpagandha might also reduce blood sugar levels. Taking these medications together might lower your blood sugar even more. You might have to change the dose of your anti-diabetic medicine if you are taking Sarpagandha. Some anti-diabetic medications include glimepiride, insulin, tolbutamide, and chlorpropamide.
  • Anti-hypertensive drugs- These drugs help in reducing blood pressure. Sarpagandha also has this property. Therefore, when these drugs are taken together, blood pressure might become very low. Some anti-hypertensive drugs that are commonly used are enalapril, captopril, diltiazem, losartan, and amlodipine.
  • Anti-coagulants/ anti-platelet drugs- These medications retard the clotting of blood. A chemical found in Sarpagandha might also help to slow down the blood clotting process. Taking these medications together might increase the probability of bleeding.

Also Read: Tejpatta – Benefits, Side Effects, Nutritional Value & Precautions

Frequently Asked Questions:

1) Does Sarpagandha lower blood pressure?

Yes, Sarpagandha contains a chemical compound called reserpine that helps in reducing blood pressure.

2) Is Sarpagandha found only in India?

 Sarpagandha is not only found India, but is also found in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Thailand and Burma. In India, it is widely found in the sub-Himalayan region in Punjab, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim.12  

3) What are the other names of Sarpagandha?

Sarpagandha has other names such as Indian snakeroot, Rauwolfia serpentina, snakeroot, snakewood, serpentine, Racine de Serpent, Raudixin, etc.9

4) Can Sarpagandha harm the kidneys?

If you have kidney disease, you must avoid taking herbal supplements as some herbal products can damage your kidneys and potentially worsen the condition. Some herbal medicines may contain aristolochic acid, which can harm your kidneys.12

5) Can Sarpagandha be used to treat ulcers?

Yes, Sarpagandha is used to treat stomach and intestinal ulcers. It can also be used in the treatment of ulcerative colitis.10

6) Does Sarpagandha have anti-oxidant properties?

Anti-oxidants are compounds that can help to prevent or delay cell damage. The leaves of Indian snakeroot have anti-oxidant properties.7

7) Can Sarpagandha be used to treat itchy skin?

Yes, Sarpagandha can be used to relieve itchy skin and is also used in the treatment of urticaria.13

Also Read: Amaltas – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and Precautions

References:

  1. International Ayurvedic Medical Journal. A review on Sarpagandha- whole herb v/s reserpine-its alkaloid in the management of hypertension. [Internet] Available from: http://www.iamj.in/posts/2015/images/upload/565_569.pdf
  2. Council of scientific and industrial research. Sarpagandha. [Internet] Available from: https://www.csir.res.in/ruralsectors/sarpagandha
  3. Pratibha Choudhary, Richa Singh, Pooja Goswami; Magical power of medicinal plant: The Sarpagandha. Rashtriya Krishi. 2018 Dec; 13 (2): 49-51. Available from: http://researchjournal.co.in/online/RKE/RKE%2013(2)/13_49-51.pdf
  4. Karunadu Karnataka. Sarpagandha. [Internet] Available from: https://karunadu.karnataka.gov.in/kampa/Documents/Sarpagandha.pdf
  5. International journal of current research. Rauwolfia serpentine (Sarpagandha). A review based upon phytochemistry and ayurvedic uses. [Internet] Available from: https://www.journalcra.com/sites/default/files/issue-pdf/41003_0.pdf
  6. Planet Ayurveda. Sarpagandha (Rauwolfia serpentina) Powder- Usage, dosage, and health benefits. [Internet] Available from: https://www.planetayurveda.com/sarpagandha-powder/
  7. National center for biotechnology information. Global pharma and local science: the untold tale of reserpine. [Internet] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5836351/
  8. Research gate. Rauvolfia serpentine L. Benth: A potential source of clinically relevant metabolites (medicinal properties of Rauvolfia serpentine metabolites). [Internet] available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311144735_Rauvolfia_serpentine_L_Benth_A_potential_source_of_clinically_relevant_metabolites_Medicinal_properties_of_Rauvolfia_serpentine_metabolites
  9. Planet Ayurveda. Sarpagandha Ghan Vati. [Internet] Available from: https://www.planetayurveda.com/library/sarpagandha-ghan-vati/
  10. RxList. Indian snakeroot. [Internet] Available from: https://www.rxlist.com/indian_snakeroot/supplements.htm
  11. WebMD. Indian snakeroot- Uses, side effects, and more. [Internet] Available from: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-787/indian-snakeroot
  12. Planet Ayurveda. Sarpagandha (Rauvolfia Serpentina) – Usage, dosage, and benefits. [Internet] Available from: https://www.planetayurveda.com/sarpagandha/
  13. National kidney foundation. Herbal supplements and kidney disease. [Internet] Available from: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/herbalsupp
  14. National center for biotechnology information. Rauwolfia in the treatment of hypertension. [Internet] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566472/

Disclaimer:

The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.





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