Rauvolfia vomitoria: 12 things you should know before making use of Asofeyeje

Ewe Asofeyeje medicinal properties

Known for the treatment of mental illness, Ewe asofeyeje (Rauvolfia vomitoria) is a popular herbaceous plant commonly found around the southern Nigerian rainforest zone. Asofeyeje is commonly referred to chieftaincy leaf, serpent wood or swizzler stick in English. The Igbo people of South East call it Akata, while it is Wada in Hausa.

Rauvolfia vomitoria is an ever green shrub that can grow up to 20 feet tall. It produces small clusters of fruits that are green but turn red when rip. The fruits are usually dispersed by birds. The leaves are medium sized but can become large when rauvolfia grows in a well fertilised soil.

How to use Asofeyeje

The leaves are washed and squeeze with a little quantity of water. After squeezing, the content is filtered, and the asofeyeje juice is giving to the patient to drink. Depending what is being treated, two spoons of natural honey may be added to the juice before offering it to the patient.

For malaria treatment, the Igbo people usually boil the leaves and stems of Akata and the sick person will be inhaling the steam that’s coming from the pot.

The Akata leaves are also used to scrub and bath the sick person. This is usually done in a running stream. While the person scrub and wash with the leaves, the running water it will be flowing off with the running water.

For the steam and roots, they are washed and boiled in a large pot. After that, the decoction is given to the sick to drink.

Where to find Asofeyeje

You may find the leaves, stems and roots in local village markets of Yoruba regions. However, since the shrub grows commonly i the nearby bushes, it is usually found around those thickets.

Read also: Arnica tea for boosting immunity

Asofeyeje is not good for a pregnant woman

The problem of herbal remedies in third world countries is lack of institutionalized regulation. Because of this, most herbal healers recommend varied herbal remedies without taking not of the patient’s body reactions.

Whereas Asofeyeje is good for treating some diseases, it also has its side effects. One of such side effects is related to the brain. A study on the leaves and root extracts of the plant exhibited teratogenic potential to cause cerebral tissue damage, evidenced by the reduced staining intensity of Nissl substances.

Health benefits of Asofeyeje (Rauvolfia vomitoria)

Rauvolfia vomitoria is rich in tannins, phenols, flavonoids, terpenoids, glycosides, and alkaloids. These biological active compounds are responsible for the many health benefits of asofeyeje.

Asofeyeje is used in treating mad people

In the Yoruba traditional medicines, the plant leaves and roots are used for treating psychotic and psychiatric patients. This claim of the power to cure madness has also be supported by studies, which showed that the plant root, stem bark, and root bark possess strong sedative compounds. These compounds include reserpine, isoreserpine, and yohimbine. The leaves and roots are boiled and the decoction given to the patient to drink.

Improves hypertension condition

Rauwolfia vomitoria has long been used in the treatment of hypertension. In the 1940s in India, Rauwolfia vomitoria was popularly used to treat hypertensive patients. In the 1950s, it became a popular hypertensive treatment medicine in America, and throughout the world. t was of recent that the plant lost its popularity due to evidences of it adverse side effects. Notwithstanding, when taken in lower doses, studies showed that Asofeyeje is an effective treatment for persons with high blood pressure.

Asofeyeje is effective against diabetes mellitus

Although there are no known cure for diabetes mellitus, it can be managed. When properly managed, the patient can lead  normal life like nondiabetic individuals. However, one criteria to check before approving any medicine, be it orthodox or herbal remedies, is its ability to lower the elevated fasting blood sugar level.

It is therefore a good news to know that Asofeyeje possesses this ability, and therefore can be used in diabetes management. According to studies, Asofeyeje not only exhibited a strong reduction of the blood sugar level but also induced the regeneration of the pancreatic beta cells. This will in turn increase the secretion of insulin and the resultant lowering of blood sugar level due to glucose clearance by the secreted insulin.

To use rauvolfia to treat diabetes, you can make a herbal tea using the leaves or root barks. A moderate amount of the decoction should be given to the patient to minimize the impacts of overdose.

Read also: Black cohosh tea for diabetes and cardiovascular health

Asofeyeje for malaria treatment

Akata, as it is popularly called among the Igbo people of South Eats Nigeria is popular for treating malaria and typhoid fever. Actually, i grew up with only the knowledge of its antimalaria properties. To treat malaria using asofeyeje, boil the leaves in a water, along lemon grass and let the patient inhale the steams coming out of the boiling water pot. After that, give the individual a cup of the decoction to drink morning and evening. But that is not all. Early in the morning, use the freshly plucked leaves with the stems to bath the person either in the bathroom or in a shallow stream.

Possesses anti-Schistosomiasis

In Africa, Schistosomiasis is very prevalent. It has been noted as one of the prevalent tropical diseases worldwide. Although Schistosomiasis is commonly neglected, it cause well about 200000 deaths annually in Africa. This is alarming enough to attract the attention of the world health organization. Also known as bilharzia, schistosomiasis is a chronic, as well as acute disease that is caused by a parasitic worm. People are infected when they engage in agricultural practices, domestic or recreational activities in an infested water.

The challenges involved in the treatment of schistosomiasis is usually associated with unavailability of potent medications. Where there are such medications, it is usually beyond the reach of the poor masses who are mostly affected. Because of this, most local dwellers in Africa tend to sort for herbal remedies to their ailments.

The good news is that Asofeyeje or akata is one of the effective herbal remedies for treating and managing schistosomiasis. The anti-schistosomiasis of rauvolfia vomitoria may be due to the presence of terpenoids and alkaloids in the plant extracts.

Is aphrodisiac

Asofeyeje may be a great herbal tonic for men. As an aphrodisiac plant, it improves the flow of blood into the pelvic region, and into the spongy tissues of the penis, thereby causing a strong erection and a good sexual stamina to men. Most men hardly get the penis strong enough to thrust into a woman’s vagina.

The inability of a man to maintain a strong erection for a longer time has caused the broken of many marriages. It is otherwise known as impotency and can prevent a man from getting a woman pregnant. This makes rauvolfia a great regimen for men that are suffering such or similar health challenges.

May prevent epilepsy and convulsion

Another important health benefit of asofeyeje is the ability to stop convulsion and prevent epilepsy. Epilepsy can be traumatising to the patient as this affects his self esteem, and psychology. In small children, convulsion can be fatal if not attended to early enough to stop the seizure.

Rauvolfia vomitoria for cancer

Asofeyeje is also good for preventing tumor and cancer cell growths. The presence of reserpine and other bioactive compounds like alkaloids and polyphenols contribute greatly to the anticancer properties of the plant. According to a study conducted and published on NCBI journal, reserpine induces apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in hormone dependent prostate cancer cells. This is done through mitochondrial membrane potential failure.

Improves heart brain health

Several studies have shown that the leaves of asofeyeje is beneficial for treating neurodegenerative related diseases such as Parkinson, and Alzheimer’s diseases. The neuroprotective effect of the leaves of asofeyeje has been attributed to the antioxidant properties of the phenolic compounds present in abundance in the leaves. This protective effect may be stronger when combined with Utazi leaves. One other strong herbal remedy that you may be interested in when it comes to managing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia is Ewe laali leaves tea.

Used in treating snake bite

For snake bites, the root of asofeyeje has been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of snake bites. This antivenom properties of the plant is related to the alkaloids present in the roots. This bioactive compounds inhibit Acetyl cholinesterase activity, protease and ATPase activities.

Side effects of asofeyeje (Rauvolfia vomitoria)

Even though you have read many benefits associated with Rauvolfia vomitoria, it is important you consult your doctor before even contemplating touching the plant, even. This is because, as much as the plant has significant health benefits, it is also toxic to the body when taken in overdose. So you may not make use of the plant without consulting your doctor.

Rauwolfia vomitoria is teratogenic

Asofeyeje contains some substance that exhibit teratogenic properties. This makes it not good for breast feeding and pregnant mothers, as it can cause serious brain damages to the infant’s brain tissue. It is also not good for pregnant women. It can cause birth defects associated to the fetus.

It is an abortifacient compound

Don’t ever make use of the plants parts if you are pregnant. Asofeyeje can induce abortion in pregnant women.

Can cause sudden heart attack

Another adverse effect of the shrub plant is related to hypotension, cardiac arrest, stroke and others. So it is better you tread with caution when making use of the plant.


There are several conflicting reports with regard to rauwolfia vomitoria. Although it posesses strog medicinal benefits, it can also cause fatality. In all, always seek your doctor’s advise. Also remember that this article is intended to broaden your knowledge  about herbal plants, but have no intension to replace your doctors services.


Amole, Olufemi & Yemitan, Omoniyi & Oshikoya, Kazeem. (2009). Anticonvulsant activity of Rauvolfia Vomitoria (Afzel). African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 3.

Lobay D. (2015). Rauwolfia in the Treatment of Hypertension. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.)14(3), 40–46.

Okon, Kingsley & Edem, Gabriel & Udoh, Nsikan-Abasi & Umanah, Sarah. (2022). Rauvolfia vomitoria remediates neurodegenerative deficiencies in hippocampus of wistar rats treated with lead nitrate.

Oyeniran OH, Ademiluyi AO, Oboh G. Phenolic constituents and inhibitory effects of the leaf of Rauvolfia vomitoria Afzel on free radicals, cholinergic and monoaminergic enzymes in rat’s brain in vitro. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2020 Dec 10;32(5):987-994. doi: 10.1515/jbcpp-2020-0144. PMID: 34592080.

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