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Article
February 25, 1956

CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM AND CARDIOVASCULAR EFFECTS OF RAUWOLFIA SERPENTINA

JAMA. 1956;160(8):622-628. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02960430012003
Abstract

• Alseroxylon (derived from Rauwolfia serpentina) was administered in alternate courses with an identical placebo tablet to three groups of patients. Of these, 50 had symptoms predominantly vascular, 50 were classified as having psychosomatic syndromes, and 10 were included as normal subjects for comparison. A daily dose of 4 mg. was arrived at as having satisfactory therapeutic effects with a minimum of undesired side-effects.

The vascular effects proved difficult to interpret. In 20 hypertensive subjects the individual improvement was not related to the reductions in blood pressure and heart rate, and in 15 patients with angina pectoris the alseroxylon seemed to be no more effective than the placebo preparation.

All subjects with psychosomatic syndromes characterized by tension states improved. Of 15 who improved on therapy, 7 relapsed during placebo administration while 8 maintained their gain through the placebo period; this was interpreted as an instance of the therapeutic prolongation pattern encountered in other phases of the investigation. None of the patients with depressions, hysteria, or hypochondriasis was helped. In this series alseroxylon was most effective in managing the psychophysiological manifestations of tension states.

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