(L.) Benth. ex Kurz
Rauvolfia serpentina, or Indian snakeroot or sarpagandha, is a species of flowering plant in the family Apocynaceae. It is native to the Indian Subcontinent and East Asia (from India to Indonesia). Common English names : Devil-pepper, Snake-root.
Bengali: Chandra; Hindi: Chandrabagha, Chota chand; Kannada: Patalagondhi, Sarpagandhi,Shivavabhiballi, Sutranavi; Malayalam: Chuvanna-vilpori, Suvapavalforiyan; Marathi: Harkaya, Harki; Oriya:Patalgarur, Sanochada; Tamil: Chivan amelpodi; Telgu: Paataala garuda, Paataala goni; Urdu: Asrel.
Rauvolfia serpentina The plant contains more than 50 different alkaloids which belong to the monoterpenoid indole alkaloid family. The major alkaloids are ajmaline, ajmalicine, ajmalimine, deserpidine,indobine, indobinine, reserpine, reserpiline, rescinnamine, rescinnamidine, serpentine, serpentinine and yohimbine.
The extract of the plant has also been used for millennia in India – Alexander the Great administered this plant to cure his general Ptolemy I Soter of a poisoned arrow. It was reported that Mahatma Gandhi took it as a tranquilizer during his lifetime. It has been used for millennia to treat insect stings and the bites of venomous reptiles. A compound which it contains called reserpine, was used in an attempt to treat high blood pressure and mental disorders including schizophrenia, and had a brief period of popularity for that purpose in the West from 1954 to 1957. . R. serpentina is also known for its antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, antidiuretic and anticholinergic activities.
Recent research has proved that Rauwolfia serpentina exhibits profound activity toward drug-resistant tumor cells.
The wood, commonly known as serpentwood, is mildly popular amongst woodcarving and woodturning hobbyists.
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