, devil pepper, or serpentine wood, is a species of flower in the milkweed family Apocynaceae. It is native to the Indian subcontinent and East Asia(from India to Indonesia). Rauvolfia
is a perennial undershrub widely distributed in India in the sub-Himalayan regions up to 1,000 metres (3,300 ft).
It is the source of the phytochemical, reserpine, which has been used in the treatment of systolic hypertension.
In Malayalam Sarpagandhi or Amalpori is a shrub found in evergreen and deciduous forests of India and Malaysia. This plant belongs to the Apocynaceae family and is scientifically known as Rauwolfia serpentina.
Indian Snakeroot/Sarpagandhi is one of the most endangered medicinal plants today.
The leaves are dark green, up to 1 m tall. Petiole three-lobed from node. The plant starts flowering after the monsoon season. Inflorescence axillary racemes, white flowers. After pollination, the inflorescence leaves and the flowers fall off, and within a few days the green fruits appear on the spot. The fruits ripen in less than a month. This can be seen when the nuts turn intense pink.
Indian snakeroot grows in shady, hot and humid areas. It can be grown by planting seeds, cutting off stems and roots. Its roots are said to smell like snakes, hence the name snake smell.
Indian Snakeroot is generally accepted as a medicine for high blood pressure. The medicine is made from its root. Modern medicine has acknowledged that serpentine, which is produced from snake venom, has the ability to lower high blood pressure. In Ayurveda, serpentine has been accepted as a sleeping pill since ancient times. Serpentine is also used to treat neurological diseases, epilepsy and intestinal diseases. Although this plant was well known in India, westerners paid no attention to it until an Indian physician Rustom Jal Vakil, wrote an article on rauvolfia in 1943. Because of the drug's noted sedative effects, it was used to treat over a million Indians in the 1940s for high blood pressure. After a U.S. physician named Wilkins demonstrated the positive effects of reserpine (1952), the plant made front page news. This drug rapidly replaced electric shock and lobotomy as treatments for certain types of mental illness. Moreover, knowledge about the chemistry of this natural plant stimulated the synthesis of other similar alkaloids that are now used as major tranquilizers.