Sarpagandha(Rauvolfia serpentina)

Basonym of Drug

Sarpagandha, a revered herb in Ayurveda, goes by the scientific name Rauwolfia serpentina. Let’s explore the diverse dimensions of this medicinal gem.

Main Sanskrit Synonyms

Sarpagandha’s legacy is mirrored in its Sanskrit synonyms, each capturing its unique attributes. Some primary Sanskrit synonyms of Sarpagandha include:

  1. Sarpagandha: The name itself signifies the plant’s aroma resembling that of a snake, infusing it with a distinctive quality.
  2. Chandrabhaga: “Chandra” denotes moon, and “Bhaga” signifies light. This name might reflect the herb’s cooling properties and its potential to pacify imbalanced doshas.
  3. Chandramara: It relives mental stress.
  4. Dhavalavitapa: It cleanses and purifies the mind and body.
  5. Vishamardini: It is used as an antidote of poison.

Regional Name (Vernacular Names)

Sarpagandha’s influence extends across regions, adorned by vernacular names:

  • Hindi: Sarpagandha, Dhavalbarua
  • English: Indian snakeroot
  • Tamil: Chandrika
  • Telugu: Patalagani
  • Kannada: Suthigombe
  • Malayalam: Chivanamavu
  • Marathi: Adakai, Saisan
  • Bengali: Chota chand

Scientific Classification of Dravya

Sarpagandha finds its place in the scientific classification as follows:

  • Kingdom: Plantae (Plants)
  • Clade: Angiosperms (Flowering plants)
  • Clade: Eudicots
  • Clade: Asterids
  • Order: Gentianales
  • Family: Apocynaceae
  • Genus: Rauwolfia
  • Species: serpentina

Classical Classification of Dravya (Gana)

Sushruta Samhita: Sushruta Samhita categorizes Sarpagandha as part of the “Aparajita Gana,” signifying its role in enhancing appetite and digestion.

External Morphology

Sarpagandha’s distinctive external features contribute to its botanical identity:

  • Leaves: The leaves are glossy, elliptical, and arranged in an alternate pattern.
  • Flowers: Sarpagandha produces small, tubular white or pinkish flowers that grow in clusters.
  • Fruits: The plant bears small, round, fleshy fruits that contain seeds.

Useful Parts

Sarpagandha’s therapeutic value resides in its roots and other plant parts:

  • Roots: The roots of Sarpagandha are the primary source of its medicinal properties.

Important Phytoconstituents

Sarpagandha’s pharmacological attributes are attributed to a group of alkaloids present in its roots, notably:

  1. Reserpine: This alkaloid is primarily responsible for Sarpagandha’s antihypertensive and sedative effects.
  2. Rescinnamine: Another alkaloid with antihypertensive properties.
  3. Ajmaline: This alkaloid contributes to the plant’s potential antiarrhythmic effects.

Rasa Panchaka:

Rasa (Predominant Taste): Sarpagandha primarily embodies the “Tikta” (bitter) taste, contributing to its distinct characteristics.

Guna (Property): The qualities of Sarpagandha encompass “Ruksha” (dryness), shaping its pharmacological properties.

Veerya (Potency): Sarpagandha’s potency is classified as “Ushna” (hot), implying its dynamic impact on the body.

Vipaka (Post-digestive Effect): Sarpagandha’s post-digestive transformation (Vipaka) is “Katu” (pungent), influencing its ultimate effect on digestion and metabolism.

Prabhava: Sarpagandha’s unique efficacy, known as “Prabhava,” manifests in its specific ability to induce sleep (nidrajanana).

Action on Dosha, Dhatu, and Mala:

Dosha: Sarpagandha primarily works to pacify the “Vata” and “Kapha” doshas, making it particularly useful in managing imbalances associated with these doshas.

Dhatu: Sarpagandha’s effects extend to the “Rasa” dhatu (plasma) and “Rakta” dhatu (blood tissue), contributing to its potential benefits in these tissues.

Mala: Sarpagandha’s influence on doshas contributes to its effect on the balanced elimination of waste products (malas) from the body.

Prayogarha Vyadhi (Therapeutic Indications):

Sarpagandha’s therapeutic applications encompass various health concerns, including:

  1. Hypertension: Sarpagandha’s antihypertensive properties make it a valuable herb for managing high blood pressure.
  2. Anxiety and Insomnia: Its sedative effects can aid in managing anxiety and promoting better sleep.
  3. Psychiatric Disorders: Sarpagandha may be utilized to support certain psychiatric conditions, including mood disorders and anxiety-related issues.
  4. Cardiovascular Health: Its potential to relax blood vessels contributes to its role in maintaining cardiovascular health.
  5. Arrhythmias: Sarpagandha’s antiarrhythmic potential can aid in managing irregular heartbeats.
  6. Digestive Disorders: Sarpagandha’s bitterness can stimulate digestion and support overall digestive health.
  7. Fever: Its role in fever management aligns with its “Ushna” potency.
  8. Inflammation: Sarpagandha’s anti-inflammatory properties may be beneficial in managing inflammatory conditions.

Amayikaprayoga and Matra (Therapeutic Administration and Dose):

Sarpagandha is typically administered in various forms:

  1. Powder: The root powder is commonly used, with doses typically ranging from 125 mg to 500 mg, under professional guidance.

Vishishta Yoga (Names of Important Formulations):

Sarpagandha is a key ingredient in various Ayurvedic formulations, highlighting its significance in promoting well-being. Some notable formulations containing Sarpagandha are:

  1. Sarpagandhadi Churna: This formulation often combines Sarpagandha with other herbs to support cardiovascular health and blood pressure management.
  2. Sarpagandha Vati: This formulation is used to manage hypertension.

Vishakta Lakshan (Adverse Effects):

Sarpagandha, while beneficial, should be used cautiously and under professional guidance. Excessive use or incorrect administration may lead to:

  1. Hypotension: Sarpagandha’s antihypertensive effects may lead to low blood pressure if not used properly.

Chikitsopachara (Remedial Measures):

In case of adverse effects due to Sarpagandha consumption, consider these measures:

  1. Hydration: Ensuring proper hydration and moderating the dosage to alleviate potential side effects.

Shodhana (Purification Method):

Sarpagandha doesn’t typically require specific purification methods before use.


Sarpagandha, scientifically known as Rauvolfia serpentina, stands as a testament to Ayurveda’s treasure trove of healing plants. Its Rasa Panchaka, therapeutic indications, and potential formulations underline its potential contributions to holistic health. As with any herbal remedy, professional guidance is crucial before integrating Sarpagandha into your health regimen. This article provides insights into Sarpagandha’s multi-faceted nature and its potential to enhance well-being, while emphasizing the importance of responsible and informed use.

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Note: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult with a qualified healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment of any other medical condition.

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