Rauwolfia (Rauwolfia serpentina) originated in South Asia and is a small, woody shrub whose roots contain a milky substance called Reserpine. Rauwolfia is used by many cultures all over the world for medicinal purposes (both internally and topically) and is reported to have calming effects with a cooling action. It has a bitter taste and is also known as serpentwood, Indian snakeroot and Lu Fu Mu. The plant’s roots were used in the form of a powdered tea as early as 600 B.C.E. in ancient Indian medicine.

Roughly 20, with some publications citing more, alkaloids have been isolated from Rauwolfia serpentina, including Reserpine. Noted as a prime alkaloid (indole) component of Rauwolfia root, reserpine appears to be the key factor for lowering high blood pressure, and can administered in a dosage as low as 0.1 to 0.25mg per day to treat hypertension. Unlike other blood-pressure lowering agents, the action method of Rauwolfia root is different because it affects the central nervous system. When used in the correct dosage and under the supervision of a trained herbalist or licensed physician.

Rauwolfia root extract is a reliable blood pressure lowering and tranquilizing agent, because it controls the heart rate, and the force of peripheral resistance and cardiac contraction. In the US, the raw root, as well as the Rauwolfia serpentina powder, extremely diluted amounts of the herb can be found in homeopathic formulations. It is also sold as a nutritional supplement in some holistic pharmacies for external applications and internal use and some health food stores. Reserpine is available in combination with other drugs that contain a vasodilator like hydralazine and/or a diuretic (these combinations are referred to as a second choice drugs) for the treatment of hypertension in some countries even today.

Hypertension can stem from genetic, race, age, gender, lifestyle, diet (including those who are salt sensitive or those with mineral deficiencies) and stress factors. However, the underlying cause of high blood pressure in as many as 95 percent of cases in the U.S. cannot be determined which is known as essential hypertension. Chronic hypertension can lead to serious health problems, such as stroke, heart attack and kidney failure. The effects of high blood pressure on specific organs are significantly impacted by high blood pressure.

Making healthy lifestyle changes and using a natural high blood lowering formulation containing Rauwolfia root can work to improve and extend a person’s life. Although Rauwolfia root has been documented as a hypotensive agent that has the ability to deplete catecholamines, (type of hormones known to strongly affect blood pressure of the heart and in the blood vessels), common sense should be used as when taking any other plant supplement. It is extremely important to follow dosage recommendations and not have the mindset that taking more of Rauwolfia serpentina is better. This is why people who decide to take this herb should do so starting with moderate doses. For personal safety, it is wise to heed any contraindications that may be documented and proactively research information and studies that have been written about Rauwolfia serpentina and monitor any reactions while taking it.

It is crucial to check with the physician about monitoring and managing the dosages to see if he or she can benefit from combined therapy. According to the conclusion of an international Indian cardiovascular physician, Dr. Rustom Jal Vakil, taking a whole root tincture of Rauwolfia serpentina appeared to improve overall tolerance of taking the formulation and reduced the risk of side effects that happen with the use of alkaloids that have been isolated. Further, dozens of mild to moderate high blood pressure patients who were given the whole root tincture of Raulwofia experienced lower blood pressure, of which some of these had hypertension that was stress-related.

Instead of taking conventional drugs, persons who have mild, moderate or chronic hypertension stage may decide to explore non-prescription treatment options to lower their high blood pressure using whole root tinctures or extracts of Rauwolfia serpentina.

Within pharmaceutical terms, Reserpine is considered to be low in toxicity and relatively safe. However, the use of Rauwolfia alkaloid containing herbs and preparations of known alkaloid content should be restricted to qualified practitioners and should be solely responsible for modifying a Rauwolfia serpentina supplement regimen.
Individuals contemplating taking a Rauwolfia supplement have a greater advantage of controlling their high blood pressure safely, since researchers widely understand the mechanism of action, the predicted effects, and the indications of Reserpine better today than they did when it was first introduced in the U.S. in the 1950s.

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