Reserpine | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More

Generic Name:

reserpine, Oral tablet

All Brands

SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for reserpine

Oral tablet
1

Reserpine is used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure). It’s also be used to treat agitation caused by schizophrenia.

2

This drug comes in the form of a tablet you take by mouth.

3

Reserpine is only available as a generic drug.

4

The starting dose is usually 0.5 mg taken once per day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.

5

The more common side effects of this drug include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, drowsiness, dizziness, and headache.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Depression

This drug may cause depression. If you have symptoms of depression, such as extreme sadness, insomnia (trouble sleeping) in the early morning, loss of appetite, or impotence (trouble getting or keeping an erection), call your doctor. Depression caused by this drug may last for several months after stopping the drug. It may be severe enough to lead to suicide (trying to hurt or kill yourself). If you have depression already, talk to your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.

Low blood pressure

This drug can cause low blood pressure when you get up in the morning. If you have low blood pressure readings or feel dizzy or lightheaded after taking reserpine, talk to your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.

Drug features

Reserpine is a prescription drug. It’s available as an oral tablet.

Reserpine is only available as a generic drug. 

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.

Why it's used

Reserpine is used to lower high blood pressure. This reduces your chance of a heart attack or stroke. 

Reserpine can also be used to reduce anxiety and agitation caused by schizophrenia.

How it works

Reserpine belongs to a class of drugs called antihypertensives. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

More Details

How it works

Reserpine belongs to a class of drugs called antihypertensives. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Reserpine works by blocking certain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, at the nerve endings in your body.  This relaxes your blood vessel walls, which lowers your blood pressure and heart rate. 

Reserpine works for schizophrenia by using up certain chemicals, called catecholamines, in your brain. This lowers tension or anxiety and has calming or sleep-inducing effects.

Advertisement
SECTION 2 of 5

reserpine Side Effects

Oral tablet

More Common Side Effects

Some of the more common side effects of reserpine include:

  • nausea and vomiting

  • diarrhea

  • shortness of breath

  • drowsiness

  • dizziness

  • headache

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • severe depression. Symptoms include:

    • loss of appetite
    • insomnia (trouble sleeping) in the early morning
    • extreme sadness
    • impotence (trouble getting or keeping an erection)
    • thoughts about or attempts to hurt yourself 
  • irregular heart rate

Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Reserpine may cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

reserpine May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Reserpine can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well. 

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Depression drugs

You shouldn’t take depression drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) with reserpine. Taking MAOIs may paradoxically raise your blood pressure. It does this by increasing the levels of chemicals that can cause an increase in blood pressure. 

These drugs include:

  • isocarboxazid
  • phenylzine
  • rasagiline
  • selegiline
  • tranylcypromine

Taking other depression drugs called tricyclic antidepressants may reduce the blood-pressure lowering effects of reserpine. 

These drugs include:

  • amitriptyline
  • clomipramine
  • desipramine
  • doxepin
  • imipramine
  • nortriptyline
  • protriptyline

Drugs that stimulate the heart or blood flow

The effects of these heart stimulant drugs can last longer when combined with reserpine. 

These drugs include:

  • epinephrine
  • isoproterenol
  • metaraminol
  • phenylephrine 

Other heart stimulant drugs can keep reserpine from lowering your blood pressure. 

These drugs include:

  • amphetamine
  • ephedrine
  • tyramine

Heart rhythm drugs

Taking reserpine with certain heart rhythm drugs may increase your chance for developing a cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).

These drugs include:

  • digoxin
  • quinidine

Blood pressure drugs

If you take reserpine with other blood pressure-lowering drugs, your doctor should increase your reserpine dose very slowly. 

These drugs include:

  • angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors, such as:
    • benazepril
    • captopril
    • clizapril
    • enalapril
    • enalaprilat
    • fosniopril
    • imidapril
    • moexipril
    • perindopril
    • quinapril
    • ramipril
    • trandolapril
  • angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), such as:
    • irbesartan
    • losartan
    • olmesartan
    • telmisatan
    • valsartan
  • beta blockers, such as:
    • acebutolol
    • arotinolol
    • atenolol
    • betaxolol
    • bisoprolol
    • esmolol

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with stomach problems

If you have a history of stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis (inflammation in your digestive tract), or gallstones, this drug may make your problems worse. Talk to your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.

People with kidney problems

People with kidney problems may be more sensitive to the blood pressure-lowering effect of reserpine. Talk to your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.

People who plan to have anesthesia for surgery

Tell your doctor that you’re taking reserpine if you have to go under anesthesia for surgery. Your blood pressure may drop when you’re under anesthesia even if you stop taking this drug beforehand.

Pregnant women

Reserpine is a category C pregnancy drug.  That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus. 

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should be used only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Women who are breast-feeding

Reserpine may pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breast-fed. It may cause increased mucus, stuffy nose, blue-colored skin due to poor circulation, and loss of appetite in a child who is breast-fed.

Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your baby. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

For seniors

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.

For children

It hasn’t been confirmed that reserpine is safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

Allergies

Reserpine can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include: 

  • shortness of breath
  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your mouth and tongue 

Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room if you develop these symptoms. 

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

SECTION 4 of 5

How to Take reserpine (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Generic: reserpine

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 0.1 mg, 0.25 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

The starting dose is 0.5 mg taken once per day for 1–2 weeks. Then your doctor may lower your dose to 0.1–0.25 mg taken once per day to keep your blood pressure under control.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

It hasn’t been confirmed that reserpine is safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Warnings

At higher does, this drug may cause more side effects, such as serious depression.

Agitation caused by schizophrenia

Generic: reserpine

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 0.1 mg, 0.25 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

The starting dose is 0.5 mg taken once per day. Your doctor may adjust your dose. The dose can range from 0.1–1 mg taken once per day.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

It hasn’t been confirmed that reserpine is safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Reserpine comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug or don’t take it at all

For high blood pressure: Your blood pressure won’t be controlled. You’ll have an increased risk for a stroke or heart attack.

For schizophrenia: You’ll continue to have agitation and anxiety.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms may include:

  • fast heartbeat
  • high blood pressure at first, but then low blood pressure
  • loss of control of bodily movements
  • coma (being unconscious for a long time)

If you think you’ve taken too much of the drug, act right away. Call your doctor or local poison control center, or go to the nearest emergency room.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

For high blood pressure: Your blood pressure will be reduced into a normal range.

For schizophrenia: You won’t feel as agitated.

Reserpine is used for long-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking reserpine
take with or without food You can take reserpine with or without food
can cut the tablet You can cut the tablet
storage Store reserpine at room temperature See Details
medication is refillable A prescription for this medication is refillable See Details
Travel Travel See Details
Clinical monitoring Clinical monitoring See Details
not usually stocked Not every pharmacy stocks this drug, so please call ahead

Store reserpine at room temperature

  • Keep it from 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C). Keep it away from high temperatures.
  • Store this medication in its original container to protect from light.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

During your treatment with this drug, your doctor will monitor the following: 

  • blood pressure
  • mental health: Your doctor will ask you questions about how you’re feeling, including if you’re depressed or suicidal.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

What does the pill look like?

Showing - out of 2
SECTION 5 of 5

How Much Does reserpine Cost?

Oral tablet

We've partnered with GoodRx so you can compare prices, find discounts and save up to 80% on your next prescription. Check out the low coupon prices below — no insurance required.

Compare prices and save up to 80% on your next refill!

Lowest price for reserpine

Walgreens $19.55
Rite-Aid $21.82
Walmart $32.48
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for reserpine on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Enter your zip code to find the best deal near you.

These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for reserpine on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on November 24, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement