The root of the plant Rauwolfia serpentina Benth., a shrub indigenous to India, was used for centuries in native Indian medicine for the treatment of a wide variety of diseases, including mental disorders. The drug was introduced into the United States for its use in the management of hypertension. In 1952, Müller, Schlittler, and Bein1 identified a new crystalline alkaloid from the Rauwolfia root. This alkaloid, reserpine, appeared to be the chief active principle of Rauwolfia. In 1954, one of us (N. S. K.)2 reported on the use of the Rauwolfia whole root and reserpine in the treatment of various psychiatric disorders. The present study is an extension of a study3 made several months previously, based on the response of 150 chronically disturbed psychotics to reserpine therapy.
In a hospital building housing 740 chronically disturbed psychotic female patients, 200 of the most disturbed were selected regardless