Rauvolfia serpentine: History, Classification, Distribution, Morphological Features and Uses
The Rauvolfia serpentina shrub can grow as tall as 60 cm and is evergreen, woody, glabrous, and perennial. The plant has a tuberous root, a corky tube, and three whorls of elliptic to lanceolate or obovate leaves. The leaves have a light brown colour. The Apocynaceae family of plants includes the plant, which grows in environments in tropical and subtropical areas. The family has 50 species, which are native to India, Bangladesh, and other parts of Asia. They are found around the world in the Himalayan region, the Indian peninsula, Burma, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. The herb is also referred to as Sarpagandha, Chandrabagha, Snake Root Plant, Chotachand, Chandrika, and Harkaya, among other names. Due to the high concentration of secondary metabolites (N-containing indole alkaloids) found mostly in the roots and rhizomes, the roots, leaves, and juice are of therapeutic relevance and have caught the attention of practitioners of indigenous systems of medicine. As a component of the Ayurvedic medicinal system, it has been utilised in India to treat a variety of illnesses. The roots of R. serpentina are used in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for hypertension, insomnia, mental agitation, gastrointestinal problems, excitation, epilepsy, traumas, anxiety, excitement, schizophrenia, sedative insomnia, and insanity. In Siddha medicine, the roots of R. serpentina are used to treat amenorrhea, oligomenorrhea, and dysmenorrhea-like abnormalities as well as headache, dizziness, and hypertension-related hypertension. Fruits and seeds have reportedly also been utilised for medical or ethnobotanical purposes by the ethnic communities of Tamil Nadu’s Virudhungar area, according to Rajendran and Agarwal (2007).
Due to the plant’s usefulness in medicine, scientists have been focusing on the phytochemical study of the plant. Both anthelmintic and anti-hypertensive medications have been made from it. It serves as a remedy for bug bites from other deadly species as well as snake bites. R. serpentina also had a significant part in diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, fever, an opacity of the cornea, central epilepsy, and ecbolic. Due to the plant’s abundance of alkaloids, it is well known for treating a variety of circulatory diseases. The root’s juices or extract are used to treat a variety of gastrointestinal conditions in children, including the expulsion of intestinal worms. According to Mao et al. (2009), the plant is a result of the ethnobotanical diversity of north-eastern India. The plant also demonstrates how locals in Bangladesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and the Eastern Ghats used it to prevent snakebites. Milk is used to smash the roots and leaf buds, create a paste, and apply it externally to the afflicted areas. Asthma, respiratory issues, eye irritation, spleen ailments, body aches, eczema, burns, menstruation disorders, scabies, skin malignancies, pneumonia, malaria, and fever can all be treated with R. serpentina.
Rauwolfia serpentina is said to appear in Sanskrit as an Ayurvedic medicine named Sarpgandha and Chandra. Sarpgandha, snakes smell or repellant refers to the use as an antidote for Snake-bite. Sen and Bose in 1931 reported the Rauwolfia serpentina valuable and safe in the treatment of High blood pressure “almost to a precision not found possible with any other drug, Eastern or western”. In 1949 Vakil concluded that, after extensive trials of various hypotensive remedies in several thousand cases of hypertension, in both private and hospital practice during the previous ten years, He found Rauwolfia serpentina to be the most successful drug and maintain a definite place in medicine because Rauwolfia serpentina lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and It was non-toxic, with only mild toxic effects.
Common Name: Chandrabhaga, Chota-chand, Sarpagandha, Rauvolfia /Indian snakeroot, Lu fu mu
The family has 50 species, which are native to India, Bangladesh, other parts of Asia, the Himalayan region, the Indian peninsula, Burma, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. A significant medicinal plant, sarpagandha is found practically everywhere in the nation, up to an elevation of 1300–1400 metres, at the foothills of the Himalayan range. In many other nations, including Africa, China, and India, it is utilised in traditional medicine. It grows in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India. It is widely spread in India’s sub-Himalayan region, from Punjab to Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan. Additionally, it can be found on the eastern, western, and Andaman Islands’ lower hills in the Gangetic Plains. It can be found primarily in moist deciduous forests between sea level and 1,200 metres above sea level. It is related to bamboo forests in the Deccan.
1. Rauvolfia serpentine is a perennial evergreen shrub with a 60 cm maximum height, (L. (Deshmukh, Dhanashree, Patil et al., 2012).
2. The plant, which is a member of the Apocynaceae family, can be found in tropical and subtropical climates.
3. The plant Rauwolfia serpentina is erect, perennial, glabrous, and evergreen.
4. Its roots have tuberous, light-brown cork-covered roots.
5. The plant’s leaves are arranged in whorls of three, elliptic to lanceolate or obovate, thin and bright green above and below. The leaves are arranged in whorls of three, are elliptic to lanceolate or ovate, and are brilliant green above and thin and pale green below. It is simple, elliptic or lanceolate, glabrous, pointed, 7.5–10 cm long, 3.5–5 cm wide, green above and light green underside.
6. It has white, frequently violet-tinged blooms in irregular corymbose cymes.
7. In Indian circumstances, the flowering period is from March to May.
8. Its fruits are Drupe, single or didymous, glossy black, with red pedicels, a calyx, and a white corolla on the inflorescence.
9. When fully mature, the fruit is a drupe measuring 0.5 cm and is a dazzling black. Fruits in irregular corymbose cymes are white with frequent violet touches.
10. In a plant that is two years old, the root structure consists of a conspicuous, tuberous, delicate taproot that is 30 to 50 cm in length and 1.2 to 2.5 cm in width.
11. It is an upright shrub with cylindrical stems that can reach a height of 1 metre. These stems are made of viscous light-coloured latex and have pale bark.
Alkaloids, phenols, tannins, and flavonoids are a few of the several phytochemical substances or secondary metabolites found in R. serpentina.
The Rauwolfia serpentina plant has three different types of alkaloids.
1. Weakly basic Indole Alkaloids: The main alkaloids are tertiary Indole Alkaloids such despiridine, reserpine, and rescinnamine.
2. Indoline Alkaloids of Intermediate Basicity: Tertiary Indoline Alkaloids include Reserpiline, Ajmaline, Iso-Ajmaline, and Rauwolfinine.
3. Strong Anhydronium Bases: The anhydronium alkaloids serpentine, serpentinine, and alsotonine are all very basic.
The additional alkaloids found in Rauwolfia serpentina include Ajmalinine, Ajmalicine, Chandrine, renoxidine, reserpinine, Sarpagine, Tetraphyllicine, Yohimbine, and 3-epi-ayohimbine. The most significant alkaloid found in the plant’s roots, stem, and leaves is reserpine. It includes not less than 0.15% of the alkaloids belonging to the Reserpine-rescinnamine group, also known as Reserpine. The geographical location from which the plant is harvested, as well as the time of year, affect the percentage of alkaloid. The optimum month for the collection for collecting more percentage of the alkaloid is December, and samples from Assam often contain a higher proportion of alkaloids (2.57%).
R. serpentina in pharmacology
Various alkaloids found in the oleoresin fraction of the roots of R. serpentina give it a significant place in the pharmaceutical industry.
This plant’s alkaloids are extremely valuable in medicine for treating conditions like human promyelocytic leukaemia, breast cancer, arrhythmia, different psychiatric illnesses, high blood pressure, and hypertension.
The primary alkaloid that exhibits a highly complicated pattern of activity, primarily variations in amine concentration in the brain, is reserpine. Glycogen, acetylcholine, g-amino butyric acid, nucleic acids, and anti-diuretic hormone concentrations are all affected by it. Reserpine inhibits breathing, stimulates myosis and peristalsis, relaxes nictating membranes, and affects the area of the brain that controls body temperature. The volume and free acidity of gastric output are both increased. Arsol (R. serpentina) works as Musakkin-wo-Munawwim (sedative and hypnotic), Mudir (diuretic), Musakkin-eAsab (nervine sedative), and Mukhaddir in the Pitkriya capsule (an Unani formulation) (anaesthetic). Anticholinergic, hypotensive, anticontractile, sedative, relaxant, hyperthermic, antidiuretic, sympathomimetic, hypnotic, vasodialater, antiemetic, anti-fibrillar activity tranquillizing agent, anti-arrhythmic, antifungal, and nematocidal are only a few of its many pharmacological properties.
The pharmacological properties of R. serpentina are thought to be as follows:
(1) By acting on the vasomotor centre, which results in widespread vasodilation by reducing blood pressure.
(2) By exerting a depressive effect on the cerebral centres while calming the entire nervous system.
(3) It has a calming effect on the gastric mucosa and a stimulating effect on the simple intestinal muscles.
Additionally, it activates the bronchial musculature.
As a medicinal herb and treatment
R. serpentina offers a wide range of beneficial therapeutic effects, including the ability to cure hypertension as well as psychotic conditions like schizophrenia, anxiety, epilepsy, sleeplessness, and insanity. It is also used as a sedative and hypnotic medication.
According to reports, the plant has a huge amount of therapeutically beneficial indole alkaloids, and these alkaloids are primarily found in the roots. The many ethnobotanical benefits for treating various circulatory diseases were highlighted by Fabricant and Fransworth (2001). Root extracts are prized as anathematics and for treating digestive ailments, particularly diarrhoea and dysentery. They have been used in combination with other plant extracts to treat fever, colic, and cholera. The root was advised for use in childbirth because it was thought to stimulate uterine contraction. In a study by Azmi and Qureshi (2012)30, Rauvolfia had therapeutic effects with only partial hypoglycemic activity in patients with diabetes and hypertension.
The leaf juice has been employed as a treatment for corneal opacity. The root juice and extract of Rauvolfia can be utilised to treat circulatory and gastrointestinal conditions. To cure liver discomfort, stomach pain, diarrhoea, and to get rid of intestinal worms, use the juice of tender leaves and root extract. The extract is also used to treat the disorders listed below, including cancer, one of the main causes of death.
One of the leading causes of cancer-related fatalities in males is thought to be prostate cancer. Patients with prostate cancer have not seen any appreciable survival advantages from contemporary treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Compared to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, natural products have shown to be a significant source for the identification of bioactive substances used in the treatment of a variety of illnesses and disorders, including cancer. Traditional Chinese medicine has employed various components of this plant for thousands of years to cure a wide range of illnesses, including fever, general weakness, digestive diseases, liver issues, and mental abnormalities. Alstonine is the primary component of the ß-carboline alkaloid family, which is abundant in extracts from the root bark of this plant. Previous studies on mice that received either YC8 lymphoma cells or Ehrlich ascitic cells as an inoculum found that this substance inhibited the growth of tumour cells. Based on examinations of the gene expression profiles of prostate cancer cells that have been treated, the plant extract displays anti-prostate cancer action in both in vitro and in vivo model systems, which may be influenced by its effects on DNA damage and cell cycle control signalling pathways.
Mental illness, schizophrenia, high blood pressure and other diseases
The plant’s root is used as a sedative, sedative for insomnia, and as a treatment for high blood pressure.
The derived root extract is regarded as the finest treatment for high blood pressure and has been adopted by the medical community in the majority of nations. The resulting alkaloids are frequently utilised in the creation of medicines and have a direct impact on hypertension. Other illnesses like fever, malaria, eye disorders, pneumonia, asthma, AIDS, headache, skin conditions, and spleen disorders can also be treated using R. serpentina extracts.
Rauwolfia’s main uses are
High blood pressure: The Rauwolfia plant is the finest treatment for high blood pressure, and medical professionals in the majority of nations have adopted it. It contains isolated alkaloids that have a direct impact on hypertension and are frequently employed by current medical professionals. But unlike the medicine consumed in its raw form, they have certain undesirable side effects. Its powder, taken three times a day with a half-teaspoon, effectively reduces hypertension.
In insanity: The Rauwolfia herb is very effective in the treatment of madness. Take 250 ml of goat’s milk sweetened with sugar candy and one gramme of powdered root twice daily. Low blood pressure, depression, and hypotensive people shouldn’t use it.
In insomnia: Due to its calming qualities, rauwolfia is a well-known treatment for treating insomnia. The patient with a phlegmatic and gouty temperament can fall asleep after taking the first dose of Rauwolfia. Its root powder, weighing between 0.6 and 1.25 grammes, is ingested after being combined with a perfumed substance. It is non-stimulating and ought to be administered to the patient in doses of 0.25 grammes before bed to promote restful sleep.
In Hysteria: Hysteria can be effectively treated with rauwolfia. You can take one gramme of powdered root three times with milk. Up until a full recovery is achieved, treatment should be continued. In cases of urticaria, it soothes itchy skin. You can consume one gramme of powdered root with water.
R. serpentina as a medicinal herb and therapeutic agent
R. serpentina offers a wide range of beneficial therapeutic effects, including the ability to cure hypertension as well as psychotic conditions like schizophrenia, anxiety, epilepsy, sleeplessness, and insanity. It is also used as a sedative and hypnotic medication. According to reports, the plant has a huge amount of indole alkaloids that are therapeutically beneficial, and these alkaloids are primarily found in the roots. The many ethnobotanical benefits for treating various circulatory diseases were highlighted by Fabricant and Fransworth (2001). Root extracts are prized as anathematics and for treating digestive ailments, particularly diarrhoea and dysentery. They have been used in combination with other plant extracts to treat fever, colic, and cholera. The root was advised for use in childbirth because it was thought to stimulate uterine contraction. In a 2012 study by Azmiand Qureshi, Rauvolfia’s therapeutic effects were demonstrated in individuals with diabetes and hypertension along with its insufficient hypoglycemic efficacy. The leaf juice has been employed as a treatment for corneal opacity. The root juice and extract of Rauvolfia can be utilised to treat circulatory and gastrointestinal conditions. To cure liver discomfort, stomach pain, diarrhoea, and to get rid of intestinal worms, use the juice of tender leaves and root extract. Cancer, one of the primary causes of death, is also treated using the extract.