Serpasil

Name: Serpasil

Why is this medication prescribed?

Reserpine is used to treat high blood pressure. It also is used to treat severe agitation in patients with mental disorders. Reserpine is in a class of medications called rauwolfia alkaloids. It works by slowing the activity of the nervous system, causing the heartbeat to slow and the blood vessels to relax.

High blood pressure is a common condition and when not treated, can cause damage to the brain, heart, blood vessels, kidneys and other parts of the body. Damage to these organs may cause heart disease, a heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, loss of vision, and other problems. In addition to taking medication, making lifestyle changes will also help to control your blood pressure. These changes include eating a diet that is low in fat and salt, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising at least 30 minutes most days, not smoking, and using alcohol in moderation.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking reserpine,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to reserpine, aspirin, any other medications, tartrazine (a yellow dye in some processed foods and medications), or any of the ingredients in reserpine tablets. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, or herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: amitriptyline; clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), digoxin (Lanoxin), doxepin (Silenor), ephedrine, epinephrine, imipramine (Tofranil), monoamine oxidase (MAO inhibitors such as isoxcarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar); tranylcypromine (Parnate), methylphenidate (Concerta, Metadate, Ritalin, others), nortriptyline (Pamelor), phenylephrine, protriptyline (Vivactil), quinidine, and trimipramine (Surmontil). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney disease, gallstones, ulcers, ulcerative colitis (a condition which causes swelling and sores in the lining of the colon [large intestine] and rectum), a history of depression, or have received electric shock therapy.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking reserpine, call your doctor.
  • talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking reserpine if you are 65 years of age or older. Older adults should not usually take high doses of reserpine because it is not as safe as other medications that can be used to treat the same condition.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking reserpine.
  • you should know that this medication may make you drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how it affects you.
  • ask your doctor about the safe use of alcohol while you are taking reserpine. Alcohol can make the side effects from reserpine worse.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.

What other information should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your blood pressure should be checked regularly to determine your response to reserpine.

Your doctor may ask you to check your pulse (heart rate) daily and will tell you how rapid it should be. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to teach you how to take your pulse. If your pulse is slower than it should be, call your doctor before taking reserpine that day.

Weigh yourself every day. Call your doctor if you experience rapid weight gain.

Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

Brand names

  • Serpalan®
  • Serpasil®

Serpasil Overview

Serpasil is a prescription medication used to treat high blood pressure. Serpasil belongs to a group of drugs called rauwolfia alkaloids. These work by slowing the activity of the nervous system, resulting in decreased heart rate and lowering of blood pressure. 

This medication comes in an oral (by mouth) tablet and is usually taken once daily, with or without food. 

Common side effects of Serpasil include vomiting, diarrhea, and headache.

Serpasil can also cause drowsiness and dizziness. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how Serpasil affects you.

Uses of Serpasil

Serpasil is a prescription medication used to treat high blood pressure. 

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Side Effects of Serpasil

Serious side effects have been reported with Serpasil. See the "Serpasil Precautions" section.

Common side effects of Serpasil include the following:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • dry mouth

This is not a complete list of Serpasil side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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