During a trip to Burma (Myanmar), M. Manal, the founder of the Indian herbal healthcare company Himalaya, happened to observe the locals feeding plant roots to cranky and restless elephants to calm them. He took the plant to India (Rauwolfia serpentina), and got it tested and the results showed that the plant had anti-hypertensive properties and acted as a natural tranquilizer. Under the name Serpina, the world’s first natural anti-hypertensive medicine was launched in 1934. The Indian name for this product ‘sarpagandha’ (smells like a serpent) is due to Reserpine, an active compound (anti-hypertensive agent) that gives out the pungent smelling herb.

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