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Effects of Rauwolfia serpentina in patients with hypertension


Cotten HB, Herren WS, McAdory WC, Klapper MS


Wilkins first introduced the use of Rauvolfia serpentina in the United States for the treatment of hypertension in 1952. Many studies confirming the efficacy of this drug and its derivatives in lowering the blood pressure in certain hypertensive patients have since been reported. Because of the effectiveness of this agent, and the paucity and mildness of side effects, Livesay et al., and Finnerty have advocated the use of Rauvolfia serpentina in preference to barbiturate sedation in patients with mild hypertension. Others have demonstrated its value in increasing the effectiveness and decreasing the undesirable side effects of more powerful antihypertensive agents.
Reduction of blood pressure by these drugs is the result of decrease in the peripheral vascular resistance to blood flow. However, cardiac work is dependent upon the cardiac output as well as the peripheral resistance. We therefore felt it would be of interest to determine the effect of Rauvolfia on cardiac output by applying the formula recently devised by Starr to our data.
It is the purpose of this report to summarize our experience with this agent, emphasizing not only the hypotensive response to therapy, but also the slowing of the heart rate. This drug-induced bradycardia may prove to be an indication for the use of Rauvolfia serpentina in many patients with cardiac hypertrophy or dilatation due to causes other than hypertension.


Plant local nameSerpentina
Scientific nameRauwolfia serpentina
Is local study?
"" plant grouping3
Abstract availabilityYes
"" plant name IDSPT3
Type of studyFor classification
Full text available?
Full citationCotten HB, Herren WS, McAdory WC, Klapper MS. Effects of Rauwolfia serpentina in patients with hypertension. Am J Med Sci 1955;230(4):408-414.