Sarpagandha is an Ayurvedic plant which has been used for its medicinal properties. This plant has been used by Ayurveda for thousands of years as a remedy for various diseases such as hypertension, insomnia and even insanity. The plant has been mentioned by sage Charaka in his work, Charaka Samhita. Sarpagandha has a distinction of being one of the first herbs to be listed in the Materia Medica for its therapeutic use in hypertension or blood pressure in the mid 20th century.
Quick facts about Sarpagandha or Rauwolfia Serpentina benth
- Sanskrit name: Nakuli, Candrika, Chandramaarah
- Scientific name: Rauwolfia serpentina benth
- English name: Rauvolfia root, Serpentina root
- Hindi name: Chota Chand, Dhvalbaruaa
- Rasa: Katu, Tikta
- Guna: Laghu, Ruksa
- Virya: Ushna
- Vipaka: Katu
- Karma: Dipani, Kaphahara, Mutral, Pachani, Rucya, Vaatahara, Vishaghna, Nidraapada, Kaamaavasaadaka, hridvasaadaka
The plant is an evergreen plant which can be found in most places in India ranging from the foot hills of Himalayas to the Western Ghats in the south and even in the Andamans. Outside of India, the plant can be found in China, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. It generally grows in tropical and sub-tropical climates. The plant is a small under shrub which can only grow up to a foot in length. The leaves are placed in whorls of three around the branch. The flowers white with traces of violet.
The chemical constituents found in Sarpagandha include Alkaloids (ajmaline, ajmalinine, ajmalicine), Phytosterols, Flavonoids, Phenols, Tannins, Oleic acid, Unsaturated alcohols and Crystalline bases (serpentine, serpentinine).
Scientific research on Sarpagandha began in India in the early 20th century before it was introduced to the western world of medicine. Studies on Sarpagandha revealed the presence of several alkaloids and crystalline bases which have a significant role in fighting many ailments described below.
- Hypertension: According to Ayurveda, sarpagandha was used as a means to control hypertension. Several researches conducted in the 20th century reinstated this benefit.
- Insomnia: Sarpagandha possesses sedative properties and hence it is good remedy for insomnia.
- Urticaria or hives: Urticaria or hives are red coloured rashes appearing on the skin due to allergic reactions, insect bites, sunburn and infections, etc. Sometimes the rashes can be painful and itchy. Ayurveda prescribes Sarpagandha as a remedy for urticaria or hives.
- Antibacterial properties: Sarpagandha also possesses antibacterial properties.
- Uterine contractions: Sarpagandha possess uterine contraction properties which are ideal for inducing labour pains.
- Giddiness: Sarpagandha is good for relieving giddiness and vertigo.
- Mental illnesses and psychiatry: Ayurveda had recognized Sarpagandha as a possible cure for certain types of mental illnesses such as insanity, traumas and hysteria.
- S Dev, 1999, Research Article Ancient-modern concordance in Ayurvedic plants: some examples. Environ Health Perspect. October; 107(10): 783–789.
- Sarpagandha, The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India, Part 1, Volume 5. pp 194
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