Sarpagandha or snakeroot is a popular homeopathic herb. Ayurveda honors it for its potent medicinal benefits. It’s also known as Rauwolfia serpentina L. and is native to India and Southeast Asia.1 You can find it as a pill or powder.
In Ayurveda, sarpagandha doubles as a cure for migraines, irregular menstruation, diarrhea, hypertension, fever, skin irritation, stress, anxiety, and snake bites. Clearly, it’s pretty amazing!
But like all good things, there are some drawbacks. Here are five possible side effects of sarpagandha.
As a powerful sedative, sarpagandha is great for getting rest. It’s even used to beat insomnia.2
However, it pays to be mindful of the dose and time of the day. If you’re not careful, you might feel drowsy while driving or doing other tasks. This is especially dangerous if you’re operating heavy machinery at work.
2. Pregnancy Complications
Sarpagandha is an emmenagogue, which means that it induces menstrual flow. This is useful if you’re dealing with irregular periods and not trying to get pregnant. But if you’re trying to conceive, this herb will work against you.
This side effect is even more important if you’re already pregnant. Keep in mind that sarpagandha can also induce uterine contractions.3 So, for the sake of your baby’s health, avoid this herb at all costs.
3. Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Since sarpagandha promotes menstrual flow, it’s vital to not overdo it. If you bleed too much, you’ll develop menorrhagia or heavy menstrual bleeding. This condition is diagnosed when your period lasts for more than seven days, which may include quarter-sized blood clots.4
If you’re already suffering from menorrhagia, it’s crucial to skip this herb. You should also avoid it if you have fibroids, polyps, bleeding disorders, or endometriosis. Sarpagandha should not be taken with blood-thinning medications like aspirin. If you bleed too much, you’ll have a greater risk for side effects like iron-deficiency anemia.5
4. Weight Gain
If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t take sarpagandha. It’s can boost your appetite6 and make you eat more. As a result, you’ll be more likely to take in more calories – which is exactly what you don’t want!
5. Low Blood Pressure
For people with hypertension, sarpagandha can successfully reduce systolic blood pressure.9 This is the measurement of blood pressure when the heart beats.10 But if you already have low blood pressure or hypotension, this side effect is bad news.
Some people naturally have hypotension, but are perfectly healthy. Yet, if it gets too low, symptoms like dizziness, fainting, and nausea might develop. At this point, a doctor should be contacted immediately.11
Despite its many benefits, sarpagandha can be harmful. Take note of these side effects if you want to take this herb. If you have certain conditions, like menorrhagia or hypotension, sarpagandha isn’t for you.
Play it safe by checking with your doctor first. When you purchase this herb, be sure to read and follow the instructions.
|↑1||Gomathi, M., L. R. Gopinath, S. Archaya, and R. Bhuvaneswari. “Review on Rawlofia serpentina-An Endangered Plant Species.” International Journal of Advances in Interdisciplinary Research 1, no. 9 (2014).|
|↑2||Sharma, Ritu. “Vedic Medicines with Special Reference to Rauwolfia Serpentina.”|
|↑3, ↑6||Pathak¹, Vandna, Renu Srivastav, and Puspendra Shukla. “Pharmacognostical Study of Rauwolfia serpentine (Sarpagandha) Root.” Int. J. Rec. Biotech 2, no. 3 (2014): 67-77.|
|↑4||Heavy Menstrual Bleeding. Centers for Disease Control.|
|↑5||Heavy Menstrual Bleeding. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.|
|↑7||Janssens, Pilou LHR, Rick Hursel, and Margriet S. Westerterp-Plantenga. “Nutraceuticals for body-weight management: The role of green tea catechins.” Physiology & behavior 162 (2016): 83-87.|
|↑8||Song, Mi-Young, Bong-Soo Kim, and Hojun Kim. “Influence of Panax ginseng on obesity and gut microbiota in obese middle-aged Korean women.” Journal of ginseng research 38, no. 2 (2014): 106-115.|
|↑9||Bhogayata, Kamlesh, P. P. Sharma, and B. R. Patel. “A clinical evaluation of Saptaparna (Alstonia scholaris L., R. Br.) on essential hypertension.” AYU (An international quarterly journal of research in Ayurveda) 30, no. 3 (2009): 318.|
|↑10||Description of High Blood Pressure. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.|
|↑11||What Is Hypotension? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.|