Skip to Content
Living with hypothyroidism? Explore treatment options >>



Generic Name: reserpine (re SER peen)
Brand Name:

What is reserpine?

Reserpine lowers blood pressure by slowing down your nervous system. This allows your blood vessels to relax and dilate (widen), which helps your heart beat more slowly and improves blood flow.

Reserpine is used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure).

Reserpine is also used to treat agitated psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia.

Reserpine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about reserpine?

You should not use reserpine if you have a stomach ulcer, ulcerative colitis, a history of depression or suicidal thoughts, or if you are being treated with electroconvulsive therapy.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking reserpine?

You should not use reserpine if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • a history of depression;

  • a history of suicidal thoughts or actions;

  • a stomach ulcer;

  • ulcerative colitis; or

  • a condition for which you are being treated with electroconvulsive (shock) therapy.

To make sure reserpine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • gallstones;

  • kidney disease; or

  • a history of stomach problems or slow digestion.

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while taking reserpine.

Reserpine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.

Reserpine is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.

How should I take reserpine?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using reserpine. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.

If you are being treated for high blood pressure, keep using this medicine even if you feel well. High blood pressure often has no symptoms. You may need to use blood pressure medicine for the rest of your life.

Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include redness or warmth under your skin, tingly feeling, diarrhea, feeling light-headed, shallow breathing, weak pulse, slow heartbeats, pinpoint pupils, extreme drowsiness, or loss of consciousness.

What should I avoid while taking reserpine?

This medicine may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.

Avoid getting up too fast from a sitting or lying position, or you may feel dizzy. Get up slowly and steady yourself to prevent a fall.

Drinking alcohol with this medicine can cause side effects.

Reserpine side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Some people taking reserpine have developed depression. Stop taking reserpine and call your doctor right away if you have:

  • unusual changes in mood or behavior;

  • sudden lack of energy or feelings of low self-worth;

  • loss of interest in things you once enjoyed;

  • new sleep problems, such as nightmares or early morning insomnia; or

  • thoughts about hurting yourself.

Keep taking reserpine but call your doctor at once if you have:

  • chest pain, slow heartbeats, trouble breathing;

  • swelling in your hands or feet;

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • painful or difficult urination;

  • vision or hearing problems; or

  • uncontrolled muscle movements or tremors.

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite;

  • headache, dizziness, drowsiness;

  • breast tenderness or swelling;

  • itching or rash;

  • stuffy nose, nosebleeds;

  • weight gain; or

  • impotence, decreased interest in sex.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

Reserpine dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Hypertension:

Initial dose: 0.5 mg orally once a day for 1 to 2 weeks.
Maintenance dose: 0.1 to 0.25 mg orally once a day.

Usual Adult Dose for Schizophrenia:

Initial dose: 0.5 mg orally once a day, but may range from 0.1 to 1 mg.
Maintenance dose: Adjust dose upward or downward according to patient response.

Usual Adult Dose for Hyperthyroidism:

The value of orally administered reserpine during thyrotoxic crisis is not known.

Limited data in which seven patients with thyrotoxic crisis received reserpine 1 to 5 mg intramuscularly, then 0.07 to 0.3 mg per kg in the first 24 hours reveal significant, dose-related improvement in symptoms within four to eight hours of drug administration.

What other drugs will affect reserpine?

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:

  • any other blood pressure medication;

  • cough or cold medicine that contains a decongestant such as phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine;

  • diet pills, stimulants, or ADHD medication;

  • an antidepressant--amitriptyline, clomipramine, desipramine, doxepin, imipramine, nortriptyline, protriptyline, trimipramine;

  • heart medication--digoxin, digitalis, quinidine; or

  • an MAO inhibitor--isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with reserpine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about reserpine.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 5.01.

Date modified: October 14, 2016
Last reviewed: January 22, 2016