Sarpagandha (Rauwolfia serpentina) plant medicinal uses and pictures

Sarpagandha (Rauwolfia serpentina) plant is a perennial undershrub grows up to 2 feet in height. You can find it in moist forests. The tuberous roots have a pale brown cork.

The leaves appear in whorls of three each with the lighter leaves appearing above. The tip of the leaves is acuminate. The base is slender and tapering. The petioles are long.

Sarpagandha plant

The flowers are irregular corymbose. They are white in color and tinged in violet. It has stout pedicles and long peduncles. Flowering season is in March to May. The fruits are fleshy and oval.

Drupes of the plant are slightly connate and ovoid. The 1 cm big fruits become purple-black when they ripen.

Sarpagandha flowers

Common names

The common name for this plant is Indian Snakeroot, Indian Snake Wood and Serpentine Wood.

Botanical name or family

The botanical name is Rauwolfia serpentina. It belongs to the Apocynaceae family.

Geological areas where sarpagandha plant grows

It is native to India, Pakistan, China, Burma, and Sri Lanka. In India, we find it growing in Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Orissa, Punjab, Bihar, Maharashtra, and Kerala.

Rauwolfia serpentina fruits

Sarpagandha medicinal uses and benefits

The Sarpagandha herb is used in both its original form and as a medical preparation. Both have their advantages, but for some ailments, one must choose the right form.

  • Helps deal with high blood pressure: Medicinal preparations of Sarpagandha herb is used in India and the western countries to relieve high blood pressure. The alkaloids that have curative effects on hypertension are included in the preparation. It dilates the blood vessels and slows the heartbeat. These have some unpleasant side effects. You can avoid this by having the drug in its raw form.
  • Medicine for insanity: This medicine is used widely as a cure for insanity. It may not work uniformly for all people. Ayurvedic practitioners prefer to use this herb in powdered form.
  • Anti-anxiety: When you take this herb, you should first check with your doctor, especially thin people with weak body. Strong people who have irritable nature can try this medicine.
  • Antihypertensive: You can take the powder of Rauwolfia serpentina three times a day to get relief from hypertension.
  • Sedative: It has sedative properties. People suffering from insomnia will find it useful to have Rauwolfia serpentina preparations. It takes effect with the first dose itself. It is non-stimulating and should be taken at bedtime.Sarpagandha leaves
  • Relaxing effect: People suffering from hysteria should have one gram of the powdered root of Rauwolfia serpentina daily with milk. This produces a soothing effect on the mind. It will put phlegmatic and gouty people to sleep. People who have uncontrollable fits of temper and unreasonable fear should have this for daily for one week. Use in the form of powder 1 teaspoon with honey. You should continue the medication until the person is completely relieved of the symptoms.
  • Antipsychotic: When people have delusions and hallucinations, use of Rauwolfia serpentina helps to calm them down. It rebalances the serotonin and dopamine levels in the body so that the mood, thinking, and behaviour of the person becomes better.
  • Antiproliferative: This herb is useful in preventing the spread of malignant cells in people afflicted by cancer. You must drink the decoction of the herb twice a day.
  • Anti-diuretic: The Sarpagandha helps balance the water level in the body. It does this by reducing the urination. This reduces the stress on your kidneys.
  • Useful for diabetics: With its special quality of controlling the blood sugar levels, the Rauwolfia serpentina is much sought after by diabetics. It provides an effective method of controlling the sugar levels in the blood.Rauwolfia serpentina root
  • Anti-inflammatory: This proves helpful for rheumatism and oedema because of its anti-inflammatory nature. This will provide fast relief but you must continue the medication for at least two to three weeks.
  • Antifungal: You can treat candidiasis, ringworm, other serious infections such as cryptococcal meningitis with the Indian Snake Wood. You can make a paste of the plant and have it.
  • For menstrual problems: For women who have irregular menstrual periods, treatment with Rauwolfia serpentina helps regularize their periods. You must have it with ginger and black pepper.
  • Hypnotic: You can use the Indian Snake Wood as a hypnotic to slow down the body functions. It induces sleep and helps people with insomnia or those recovering from trauma to take good rest.
  • Anthelmintic: Its anthelmintic property helps get rid of worms in the intestine. This is used daily in the form of a decoction for one week.
  • Antimicrobial: You can apply the paste of the herb to wounds and cuts. Further, you may use it as mouthwash and a hand wash.
  • Relief from itching: For people suffering from urticaria, the administration of one gram of the powdered herb helps in giving relief from itching. Find natural remedies for hives treatment.
  • Helpful for people with cataract: It inhibits the cataract growth in the eye. So, you must have the medicine for two weeks, and you will see improvement in the eye.
  • Can help overcome frigidity: Many gynecological problems like frigidity can be overcome using Sarpagandha.
  • Help maintain a steady heart beat: The herb is given to old people because it helps to maintain a steady heartbeat.
  • Helps fight plague and fever: It helps reduce fevers. You can treat plague using the Serpentine Wood preparation.
  • Good for colic: If you give preparations made with honey and powder of the Sarpagandha, it cures colic and induces sleep in the babies.
  • Treat cholera effectively: It antipyretic properties proves useful in treating cholera. Use the powdered form along with honey thrice daily.
  • Helps uterine contractions: They give preparation of the herb to pregnant women to help uterine contractions during child birth.
  • Remove the toxin from insect bite: When applied to the stings from insects including the scorpion, the toxin is removed. This remedy is used all over the world.
  • Helpful for skin disorders: For people with intractable disorders of the skin, the Rauwolfia serpentina is applied as a poultice. It helps reduce the sweating and the itching.
  • Goitre problems: People who have goitre problems can benefit by having the Serpentine Wood preparation.
  • Help with other problems: You can use the Indian Snake Wood for treating constipation. People with abdominal pain due to constipation will find relief after taking the Serpentine Wood medicine. It also finds use in the treatment of dizziness.

All forms of the medication of the Sarpagandha (Rauwolfia serpentina) are not advisable for pregnant women or those who are planning to become pregnant. It is always safe to use the medicines after you consult your medical practitioner.

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Anoop Sharma

About Anoop Sharma

Anoop Sharma is an IT professional, freelance health writer and creator of He is passionate about helping others learn about health issues and their natural remedies, yoga and healthy food.

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