Indian Snakeroot (Rauwolfiae radix)

Published September 18, 1986.
List of German Commission E Monographs (Phytotherapy)


Name of Drug

Rauwolfiae radix, Indian snakeroot

Composition of Drug

Indian snakeroot consists of the dried roots of Rauvolfia serpentina (L.) Bentham ex Kurz [Fam. Apocynaceae], as well as their preparations in effective dosage.

The drug contains at least 1 percent alkaloids calculated as reserpine with reference to the dried drug.


Mild, essential hypertension (borderline hypertension), especially with elevated tension of the sympathetic nervous system, for example, sinus tachycardia, anxiety, tension and psychomotor irritation, when dietetic measures alone are not sufficient.


Depression, ulcer, pheochromocytoma, pregnancy and lactation.

Side Effects

Stuffy nose, depressive mood, fatigue, reduction in sexual potency.

Note: This preparation can change reaction time, even when used as directed, leading to decreased ability to drive in traffic or to operate machines. This effect is potentiated in connection with use of alcohol.

Interactions with Other Drugs


Digitalis glycosides:

bradycardia; Neuroleptics:

mutual potentiation; Barbiturates:

mutual potentiation; Levodopa:

reduced effectiveness, but undesired extrapyramidal motor symptoms can be increased; Sympathomimetics (e.g., in cough/cold medications, and appetite suppressants):

initial strong blood pressure increase. Dosage Unless otherwise prescribed:

Average daily dosage:

600 mg drug corresponding to 6 mg total alkaloids. Mode of Administration Comminuted drug. Powdered drug as well as other galenical preparations for internal use.


Based on the strong sympathicolysis [alpha and beta receptor blocking action] (catecholamine reduction), blood pressure lowering and sedating. In addition there are direct central and peripheral receptor sites for specific alkaloids.

Ed. note: The original German monograph writes the genus name in the Latin binomial as Rauwolfia, a spelling commonly used. However, our taxonomic reviewers stipulate the spelling Rauvolfia.]. -->