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Rauwolfia alkaloids as tranquillizing and antihypertensive agents


Rauwolfia and its derivatives have been used extensively for the treatment of hypertension and of agitation, but have now largely been replaced by more effective drugs. Rauwolfia serpentina is available in three major forms: as the crude root, as a fraction containing a mixture of the alkaloids in the naturally occurring proportions, and as pure alkaloids, the most important of which is reserpine. The three forms are essentially equivalent in their effects in the ratio of 100 mg of the whole root (Raudixin - Squibb; and others), to 1 mg of the mixed alkaloids fraction (Rauwiloid - Riker; and others), and 0. 1 to 0.25 mg of reserpine (Serpasil - Ciba; and others). Despite claims to the contrary, there is no convincing evidence that the whole root or any fraction of it is more useful than reserpine. This also applies to the alkaloids deserpidine (Harmonyl - Abbott) and methoserpidine (Decaserpyl - Roussel).

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