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October 1955

Drug Therapy (Rauwolfia) of Hypertension: I. Pharmacodynamics of Rauwolfia

Author Affiliations

Houston, Texas

From the Departments of Pharmacology and Medicine, Baylor University College of Medicine.

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1955;96(4):518-529. doi:10.1001/archinte.1955.00250150092010

Many recent studies have established the therapeutic effectiveness of Rauwolfia alkaloids, both in internal medicine and in neuropsychiatry. As a consequence, there is great interest in the chemistry, and particularly in the pharmacodynamics, of these alkaloids. Although a chemical study of preparations made from the roots of Rauwolfia serpentina had been attempted toward the end of the 19th century, it was not until 1931 1 that the alkaloids were subdivided into the two principal groups containing the ajmaline and serpentine alkaloids, respectively. Later other extracts were made from Rauwolfia serpentina. The alseroxylon fraction was prepared in 1952.2 In spite of the efforts of many investigators, it was not until recently that pharmacologically and clinically active alkaloids were prepared in pure forms. The first such alkaloid to be isolated was reserpine.3 Some investigators have attributed the hypotensive action of the whole root to this single alkaloid * when used for