In the 1930s, the late Mr. M. Manal, founder of Himalaya, traveled to Burma, where he observed locals feeding some plant roots to restless elephants to calm them. When he returned to India, he had the plant, Rauwolfia serpentina, clinically tested and discovered it was a natural tranquilizer with anti-hypertensive properties. After research and testing, Serpina, the world's first natural anti-hypertensive medicine was launched in 1934.
Serpina was well received, and the success of this experiment laid the foundation for the organization's research progress. At Himalaya, Mr. Manal's legacy of researching nature and using modern science to unlock ayurveda's power continues. This emphasis on primary research has earned us the trust of millions of people who today form part of the global Himalaya family.
When high blood pressure was discovered in 1912, it was treated with benzyl benzoate, calcium chloride, sunflower seeds, garlic, liver extracts, etc, which were often poorly tolerated by patients. Sodium and potassium thiocyanate were in vogue in the 1940's and produced a significant fall in blood pressure in a few cases. However, the general lack of success of medical treatment led to attempts at relief by surgical procedures(1).
Reserpine was isolated in 1952 from the dried root of Rauwolfia serpentina (Indian Snakeroot)(2) and introduced in 1954, two years after chlorpromazine(3). It was synthesized in the laboratory couple of years later by Dr. Robert Woodward of Harvard University. Reserpine works by controlling nerve impulses along certain nerve pathways. As a result, it acts on the heart and blood vessels to lower blood pressure(4).
- Fleming PR, A Short History Of Cardiology, Rodopi, 1997, page 186.
- Rauwolfia, Dorlands Medical Dictionary. Merck Source. 2002.
- Lopez-Munoz F, Bhatara VS, Alamo C, Cuenca E. "[Historical approach to reserpine discovery and its introduction in psychiatry]" [Article in Spanish] Actas Esp Psiquiatr. 2004 Nov-Dec;32(6):387-95.