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Indian snakeroot is a plant. The root is used to make medicine.
Indian snakeroot is used for mild high blood pressure, nervousness, trouble sleeping (insomnia), and mental disorders such as agitated psychosis and insanity. Indian snakeroot is also used for snake and reptile bites, fever, constipation, feverish intestinal diseases, liver ailments, achy joints (rheumatism), fluid retention (edema), epilepsy, and as a tonic for general debilities.
One of the chemicals in Indian snakeroot is the same as a prescription drug called reserpine. Reserpine is used to treat mild to moderate hypertension, schizophrenia, and some symptoms of poor circulation.
How does it work?
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia). Early evidence indicates that Indian snakeroot in a specific combination with two other herbs might help insomnia.
- Mental disorders such as schizophrenia.
- Liver problems.
- Joint pain.
- Spasms in the legs due to poor circulation.
- Mild high blood pressure.
- Other conditions.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
Indian snakeroot is POSSIBLY SAFE when a standardized extract is used under the supervision of a healthcare professional trained in its use. Standardized Indian snakeroot contains a set amount of medicine. The amount of reserpine and other chemicals in Indian snakeroot can vary from plant to plant. Since the reserpine and other chemicals in Indian snakeroot can be very toxic, the dose must be accurate and the side effects monitored by a trained healthcare professional. Side effects can range from mild to serious and include nasal congestion, stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, drowsiness, convulsions, Parkinson's-like symptoms, and coma. Indian snakeroot can slow reaction times and should not be used when driving or operating heavy machinery.
Self-medication is UNSAFE.
Gall stones: Indian snakeroot might make gallbladder disease worse.
Stomach ulcers, intestinal ulcers, or ulcerative colitis: Don't use Indian snakeroot if you have ever had one of these conditions.
Surgery: Indian snakeroot might speed up the central nervous system. There is a concern that it might interfere with surgical procedures by increasing heart rate and blood pressure. Stop using Indian snakeroot at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
AlcoholInteraction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.
Alcohol can cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Indian snakeroot might also cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Taking large amounts of Indian snakeroot along with alcohol might cause too much sleepiness.
Digoxin (Lanoxin)Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.
Digoxin (Lanoxin) helps the heart beat more strongly. Indian snakeroot seems to slow the heartbeat. Taking Indian snakeroot along with digoxin might decrease the effectiveness of digoxin. Do not take Indian snakeroot if you are taking digoxin (Lanoxin).
LevodopaInteraction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.
Levodopa is used for Parkinson's disease. Taking Indian snakeroot along with levodopa might decrease the effectiveness of levodopa. It is not clear why this interaction might occur. To be on the safe side, do not take Indian snakeroot if you are taking levodopa.
Medications for depression (MAOIs)Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.
Indian snakeroot contains a chemical that affects the body. This chemical might increase the side effects of some medications used for depression.
Some of these medications used for depression include phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and others.
Medications for mental conditions (Antipsychotic drugs)Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.
Indian snakeroot seems to have a calming effect. Medications for mental conditions also help calm you down. Taking Indian snakeroot along with some medications for mental conditions might increase the risk of side effects of medications for mental conditions.
Some of these medications include chlorpromazine (Thorazine), clozapine (Clozaril), fluphenazine (Prolixin), haloperidol (Haldol), olanzapine (Zyprexa), perphenazine (Trilafon), prochlorperazine (Compazine), quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal), thioridazine (Mellaril), thiothixene (Navane), and others.
Propranolol (Inderal)Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.
Propranolol (Inderal) is used to decrease blood pressure. Indian snakeroot also seems to reduce blood pressure. Taking Indian snakeroot along with propranolol (Inderal) might cause your blood pressure to go too low.
Sedative medications (Barbiturates)Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.
Indian snakeroot might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking Indian snakeroot along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
Stimulant drugsInteraction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.
Stimulant drugs speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and speed up your heartbeat. Indian snakeroot might also speed up the nervous system. Taking Indian snakeroot along with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with Indian snakeroot.
EphedrineInteraction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Ephedrine can speed up the nervous system and make you feel jittery. Indian snakeroot can calm you down and make you sleepy. Taking Indian snakeroot along with ephedrine can decrease the effects of ephedrine.
Medications used for depression (Tricyclic antidepressants)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Taking some medications used for depression might decrease the effects of Indian snakeroot.
Water pills (Diuretic drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Indian snakeroot might affect the heart. "Water pills" can decrease potassium in the body. Low potassium levels can also affect the heart and increase the risk of side effects from Indian snakeroot.
The appropriate dose of Indian snakeroot depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for Indian snakeroot. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Briggs GB, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 1998.
Rani PU, Naidu MU. Subjective and polysomnographic evaluation of a herbal preparation in insomnia. Phytomedicine 1998;5:253-7.
Young DS. Effects of Drugs on Clinical Laboratory Tests 4th ed. Washington: AACC Press, 1995.