from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A white to yellowish powder, C33H40N2O9, isolated from the roots of certain species of rauwolfia and used as a sedative and an antihypertensive.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. An alkaloid, isolated from the snakeroot plant, that is used as an antipsychotic and antihypertensive drug
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. antihypertensive consisting of an alkaloid extracted from the plant Rauwolfia serpentina (trade names Raudixin or Rau-Sed or Sandril or Serpasil)
In 1956, Kline heard that scientists had given iproniazid along with reserpine to lab animals, which, far from being sedated, had become hyperactive.
MAOI drugs like iproniazid, on the other hand, countered the reserpine effect and raised levels of norepinephrine.
In 1965, he reviewed all the evidence—the reserpine research, the clinical trials with drugs like imipramine and iproniazid, the studies showing evidence of increased catecholamines in the blood and urine of people taking antidepressants, the discoveries of enzyme and reuptake inhibition—and concluded, “There is good evidence to support the thesis that the antidepressant effects of both the monoamine oxidase inhibitors and the imipramine-like drugs are mediated through the catecholamines.”
The possibility that the drug could reverse the reserpine effect, Kline said, “immediately led me to speculate whether this was the psychic energizer for which we had all been looking.”
The reserpine study was simply ignored, probably because it ran counter to the increasingly prevailing wisdom.
The trial was a success, but the drug was reserpine, which, according to the theory should have been anything but an antidepressant.
The reserpine experiments, the ones that showed less serotonin activity in the brains of animals that had suffered a reserpine-induced “depression,” gave credence to this emerging hypothesis about how iproniazid worked, and, in the bargain, to the serotonin theory of mental illness.
Given what John Gaddum and other researchers were saying about LSD and serotonin, Kline and other scientists speculated that reserpine was increasing serotonin levels in the brain.
Some common medications, such as phenothiazines, imipramine, methyldopa, and reserpine, will also raise prolactin levels, as will excessive stress.
Moreover the suicidal and akathisia side effects that blemished the antidepressant Prozac were revealed -- but ignored -- in case reports of the antihypertensive drug, reserpine.
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