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|Rauvolfia tetraphylla L., 1753
About 85 species known.
Rauvolfia (also spelled Rauwolfia) is a genus of evergreen trees and shrubs in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae. The genus is named to honor Leonhard Rauwolf. The approximately 85 species in the genus can mainly be found in tropical regions. Rauvolfia caffra is the South African quinine tree.
Rauvolfia serpentina, commonly known as or Indian Snakeroot or Sarpagandha, contains a number of bioactive chemicals, including ajmaline, aricine, corynanthine, deserpidine lankanescine rauwolscine, rescinnamine, reserpine, reserpiline, isoreserpine, isoreserpiline, serpentinine, and yohimbine.
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Reserpine is an alkaloid first isolated from R. serpentina and was widely used as an antihypertensive drug. It had drastic psychological side effects and has been replaced as a first-line antihypertensive drug by other compounds that lack such adverse effects, although combination drugs that include it are still available in some countries as second-line antihypertensive drugs.
Other plants of this genus are also used medicinally, both in conventional western medicine and in Ayurveda, Unani, and folk medicine. Alkaloids in the plants reduce blood pressure, depress activity of the central nervous system and act as hypnotics.
Rauvolfia serpentina is declining in the wild due to collection for its medicinal uses. Consequently, it is listed in CITES Appendix II. Rauvolfia vomitoria is a highly invasive species in Hawaiʻi, and is capable of establishing dense monotypic stands.
Women who are pregnant, may be pregnant, or plan pregnancy in the near future should not ingest Rauvolfia plants or preparations made from them. They may also be harmful for people with any chronic disease of the gastrointestinal tract, such as stomach or duodenal ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (reflux esophagitis), ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and diverticulosis. No "safe" dosage has been established.
- Rauvolfia caffra Sond., 1850
- Rauvolfia canescens L., 1762
- Rauvolfia mannii Stapf, 1894
- Rauvolfia media Pichon, 1947 (Madagascar)
- Rauvolfia micrantha Hook.f., 1882
- Rauvolfia sachetiae Fosberg, 1981 (French Polynesia)
- Rauvolfia sandwicensis A.DC., 1844 - hao (Hawaiʻi)
- Rauvolfia serpentina (L.) Benth. ex Kurz, 1877 - snakeroot
- Rauvolfia sumatrana Jack, 1820
- Rauvolfia tetraphylla L., 1753
- Rauvolfia verticillata (Lour.) Baill., 1895
- Rauvolfia vomitoria Afzel., 1817 - poison devil's pepper
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- "Appendices I, II and III". Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species. 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- Little Jr., Elbert L.; Roger G. Skolmen (1989). Hao (PDF). United States Forest Service.
- "Subordinate Taxa of Rauvolfia L.". TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
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