- Rauwolfia (also spelled Rauvolfia) is a genus of evergreen trees and shrubs in the Apocynaceae family. The approximately 85 species in the genus can mainly be found in tropical regions. Rauvolfia caffra is the South African quinine tree.
- Rauvolfia serpentina, or Indian Snakeroot or Sarpagandha, contains a number of bioactive chemicals, including ajmalicine, deserpidine, rescinnamine, serpentinine, and yohimbine. Rauvolfia root or Serpentine root is one of the important crude drugs used in modern medicine.
- The root contains ophioxylin (an alkaloid having orange colored crystalline principle), resin, starch and wax. The total alkaloid yield is 0.8%. Five crystalline alkaloids isolated are ajmaline, ajmalicine, serpentine, serpentinine, and yohimbine. Its roots are often used as an adulterant of R. serpentina.
- Reserpine is an alkaloid first isolated from R. serpentina which was widely used as an antihypertensive drug. It had drastic psychological side effects and has been now replaced by blood-pressure-lowering drugs that lack such adverse effects.
- Reserpine is the most important alkaloid present in root, stem and leaves of the plant. It varies from 1.7 to 3.0 %. The root barks has more than 90% of the total alkaloids in roots. The % of the alkaloid depends on the geographical place from where the plant is collected and also the season of collection.
- Reserpine has a highly complex pattern of activity. The effects of reserpine include respiratory inhibition, stimulation of peristalsis, myosis, relaxation of nictating membranes, and influence on the temperature regulating centre. It increases the volume and free acidity of gastric secretion.
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