Health benefits of Madagascar periwinkle

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Health benefits of Madagascar periwinkle

Madagascar periwinkle Quick Facts
Name: Madagascar periwinkle
Scientific Name: Catharanthus roseus
Origin Madagascar
Shapes Composed of 2 free cylindrical follicles 2–4.5 cm long, striate, laxly shortly hairy to glabrous, green, dehiscent, 10–20-seeded.
Health benefits Beneficial for Diabetes and Enhances Memory
Catharanthus roseus, commonly called periwinkle, Madagascar periwinkle or annual vinca is a common ornamental plant grown in the gardens of residential and official compounds. It belongs to the Apocynaceae family of flowering plants and is native of South-eastern and eastern Madagascar found growing as wild plant species in rain forest. Other English names include Vinca, Cape periwinkle, rose periwinkle, rosy periwinkle, and “old-maid”. It was formerly included in the genus Vinca as Vinca rosea

Plant Description

Madagascar periwinkle is an erect, smooth or slightly hairy, simple or slightly branched evergreen subshrub or herbaceous plant about 1 m tall. The plant grows best in hot conditions- full sun, heat, and high humidity. Coastal habitats and sandy locations along the coast, but is also found inland on riverbanks, savanna vegetation, dry waste places, roadsides, open forest and scrubland, usually on sandy soils, but sometimes also on rocky soils. It does best in poor, well-drained soils. Roots are up to 70 cm long with narrowly winged, green or red, shortly hairy to glabrous stem, often woody at base.


Leaves are oval to oblong, 2.5–9 cm long and 1–3.5 cm broad, glossy green, hairless, with a pale midrib and a short petiole 1–1.8 cm long; they are arranged in opposite pairs. Herbaceous to thinly leathery, glossy green above and pale green below, sparsely shortly hairy to glabrous on both sides.


Flowers are bisexual, 5-merous, regular, almost sessile; sepals slightly fused at base, (2–)3–5 mm long, erect, green; corolla tube cylindrical, 2–3 cm long, widening near the top at the insertion of the stamens, laxly shortly hairy to glabrous outside, with a ring of hairs in the throat and another lower down the tube, greenish, lobes broadly obovate, 1–2(–3) cm long, apex mucronate, glabrous, spreading, pink, rose-purple or white with a purple, red, pink, pale yellow or white center; stamens inserted just below the corolla throat.


Fruit is composed of 2 free cylindrical follicles 2–4.5 cm long, striate, laxly shortly hairy to glabrous, green, dehiscent, 10–20-seeded. Seeds are oblong, 2–3 mm long, grooved at one side and are black colored.


Catharanthus roseus has been introduced into new habitats worldwide mostly to be used as an ornamental and a medicinal plant. It was brought into cultivation in the first half of the 18th century in Paris from seeds collected in Madagascar, and was later dispersed from European botanical gardens to the tropics as an ornamental. In the West Indies, it appears in herbarium collections made in 1882 in the Virgin Islands, in 1885 in Puerto Rico, and in 1910 in the Dominican Republic (US National Herbarium).Now it is grown throughout the world due to its use in different health conditions.

Health benefits of Madagascar periwinkle

Madagascar periwinkle contains more than 70 powerful alkaloids, most of which are well-known for their medicinal properties. It contains the anti-cancerous vincristine and vinblastine as well as anti-hypertensive reserpine. It also helps in managing your blood sugar levels. Some of the other uses of this herb are to ease toothache, improve circulation, and prevent memory loss. Listed below are few of the popular health benefits of Madagascar periwinkle

1. Diabetes

Madagascar periwinkle is traditionally used to treat diabetes in many Asian folk medicines. In the Philippines and China, the plant is boiled for several minutes and consumed daily to help manage insulin level in the body and minimize high blood pressure.

2. Could help on curbing bleeding

Madagascar periwinkle is known for its potential to curb bleeding, thus enhancing the healing. Oil extracted from the leaves could help in curing bleeding from nose and gums. It could also be used to ease the bleeding hemorrhoids. Being a good styptic by nature, this herb is powerful enough to help in regulating excessive bleeding during menstruation and menopause.

3. Enhances Memory

Madagascar periwinkle leaves and seeds consists of good amount of vincamine, an alkaloid related to enhanced memory and increased cognitive functions. Madagascar periwinkle helps enhance blood circulation in the brain, helps in brain metabolism, improves mental productivity, prevents memory loss, and boosts thinking ability by preventing the aging of brain cells. The herb may also help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Cancer

Madagascar periwinkle is a popular herbal treatment for cancer including leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, malignant lymphomas, neuroblastoma, Wilms tumor, and Kaposi’s sarcoma. When taken as tea, the plant helps prevent the propagation of cancer cells to the rest of the body. The Vincristine in Madagascar periwinkle is responsible for the plant’s powerful anticancer properties. It also contains leurosi-dine and leurosine which helps treat Hodgkin’s disease.

5. Heal Wounds

Madagascar periwinkle is quite efficient in treating wounds and to stop the bleeding. For this remedy, take a handful of leaves in a pan and boil it along with water till the water is reduced in half and strain. Now take a pure cotton cloth and sterilize it by boiling it in water and squeeze out the water completely. Dip the cloth in the prepared extract and squeeze little so that the cloth is not dripping and place the cloth over the wound like a bandage. This kind of external application does not have any side effects and can be safely done at home. Keep repeating the processes both morning and evening till the wound starts healing. If you don’t have the plant at home, you can also collect the leaves when you can, dry them well under the sun and use it for treating wounds by boiling the dried leaves in water. The fresh leaves also can be boiled in any unrefined oil after bruising it. This oil will make an excellent ointment for treating wounds, scrapes and cuts.

6. Eases stress and anxiety

Madagascar periwinkle helps in improving the circulation and lowering the levels of blood pressure. Thus this herb could be used effectively as a cure for anxiety and stress.

7. Good for the eyes

While research is yet to discover this benefit of Madagascar periwinkle, it is suggested that the anti-inflammatory properties of this herb could be used to heal eye inflammation.

8. Stimulates better circulation

People who have tried Madagascar periwinkle suggest that a concoction prepared from the leaves of this herb could help in improving the circulation of blood and oxygen, thus improving your immunity and energy levels.

9. Alzheimer’s disease

Vinpocetine is a chemical derived from vincamine, which is found in the leaves of common periwinkle as well as the seeds of various African plants. It is also used as a treatment for memory loss and mental impairment. Apart from that it has shown several benefits to people who were related with Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. In an initial research it was found that vincamine itself has shown to be beneficial in a later double-blind trial. In Europe Vincopetine medicine is sold as in the name of Cavinton and in the US it is also sold as a dietary supplement.

10. Cure for sore throat

Madagascar periwinkle tea can be used as a solution for healing sore and strep throat infections. Use the tea as a gargle for your throat infections. Do it twice or thrice a day, but make sure you are not overdoing as it could be deadly.

11. Skin Problems

Due to its astringent properties, the herb is applied topically to treat sore throat, wounds, canker sores, eczema, bleeding and abscesses.

12. Helps in keeping your heart safe

Madagascar periwinkle contains an alkaloid, reserpine, which is well known for its ability to lower the levels of blood pressure. An excess level of blood pressure is dangerous for your heart. Thus, by maintaining the levels of blood pressure, it protects your heart from various fatal conditions, including stroke.

13. Cure for oral sores

Madagascar periwinkle has rich astringent properties that make it a wonderful solution for canker sores. Use the Madagascar periwinkle tea as a mouth rinse to ease the pain and inflammation of the oral sores and encourage better healing.

14. Beneficial for Wasp Stings

Periwinkle is a popular medication for wasp stings and wounds. External use of periwinkle leaves on the affected area treats the problem well. For the remedy, take a handful of fresh periwinkle leaves and wash them well. Pound the leaves in a mortar and pestle, while the leaves are still wet, to a fine paste without adding any water. Apply the leaves on the affected area and tie with a thin muslin cloth to prevent the paste from falling down.

Ayurvedic Health benefits of Madagascar periwinkle

Good for wounds

Leaves of Madagascar periwinkle are taken along with turmeric and fine paste is made. This is applied on the wounds 2 to 3 times a day. This serves as a good wound healer.

Type II DM

Fresh roots are collected and washed carefully. This is dried under shade and fine powder is made. 250-500 mg (1-2 pinches) of this powder is taken along with little honey. This has strong effect against type II DM.

Borderline Hypertension

White variety of periwinkle is selected and its 5 fresh leaves are collected. This is pounded well and fresh juice is obtained. 2-3 ml of this juice is taken in the early morning or in late nights. This helps to control the blood pressure.

Irregular menstruation

6 to 8 fresh leaves of the plant are boiled with 2 cup of water and reduced to half a cup. This is taken regularly for three consecutive menstrual cycles. This controls the heavy menstrual flow and regularizes scanty flow too. This kind of folk practice is evident in Sirsi, Honnavar, Bhatkal, Ellapur places of Karnataka.

Remedy for nasal and mouth bleeding

Madagascar periwinkle flower and pomegranate tender buds are taken and fresh juice is obtained. This is instilled to the nostrils in case of nasal bleeding. If it is retained in the mouth bleeding gums, mouth ulcers and sore throats are also relieved.

Good for Insect and wasp bites

Fresh juice/fine paste of the leaves can be applied to the bite area of the insects and wasps. This reduces irritation and swelling.

Acne and related skin scars

Equal quantity of fresh leaves of Madagascar periwinkle and neem and turmeric fresh rhizome is taken and fine paste is made. This is applied over the acne lesions and skin scars. Regular application gives excellent results in this condition.

Scanty Menses

Take Madagascar periwinkle leaves. Prepare an infusion. Use it as a douche.

External Bleeding

Take Madagascar periwinkle leaves. Boil them. Prepare poultice. Apply on affected parts.


Take Madagascar periwinkle leaves. Boil them. Stain. Drink it twice a day.

Traditional Medicinal uses of Madagascar periwinkle

  • It has shown to have activity against leukemia and other cancers.
  • Different plant parts and forms are used in the treatment of various diseases such as hypertension, asthma, menstrual irregularities, dengue fever, chronic constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, malaria, etc.
  • Dried root is an industrial source of ajmalicine, which increases the blood flow in the brain and peripheral parts of the body.
  • Preparations of ajmalicine are used to treat the psychological and behavioral problems of senility, sensory problems (dizziness, tinnitus), cranial traumas and their neurological complications.
  • Leaves and aerial parts of the plant have a wide range of traditional uses.
  • Decoction is taken to treat hypertension, asthma, menstrual irregularities, chronic constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, dyspepsia, malaria, dengue fever, diabetes, cancer and skin diseases.
  • Extracts prepared from the leaves have been applied externally as antiseptic agents for the healing of wounds; to relieve the effects of wasp stings; against hemorrhage, skin rash and as a mouthwash to treat toothache.
  • An infusion of the flowers is used to treat mild diabetes.
  • Decoction of the roots is taken to treat dysmenorrhea.
  • Leaves are used for treating rheumatism (inflammation and pain in the joints) and menorrhagia (abnormally heavy bleeding at menstruation) in Africa.
  • Leaves are used as vomitive, the roots are used as purgative, anthelmintic (for expelling worms), hemostatic (causes bleeding to stop) and for stopping toothache in Madagascar.
  • Plant is used for tackling hypertension, diabetes, cancer and insomnia in Malaysia.
  • Leaves extracts are applied on the skin for numbing and neutralizing bee sting/ wasp sting in India.
  • Leaves extracts are used for treating indigestion and constipation in Mauritius.
  • Flower extracts are used as eyewash for infants in Jamaica and Cuba.
  • Plant is decocted and gargled for easing sore throats and laryngitis. It is also used for chest ailments in America.
  • Leaves can be used for treating diabetes and stomach cramps while the root decoction is used for treating intestinal parasitism. The leaves can also be infused and used for treating menorrhagia (abnormally heavy bleeding at menstruation). The roots are also used for treating dysentery in Philippines.
  • Decocted flower is used for treating flatulence, asthma and tuberculosis in Bahamas.
  • Boiled plant extract is used for stopping excessive bleeding in Hawaii.
  • Root decoction is used for intestinal parasitism; as emenagogue; may produce abortion.
  • Juice of leaves used as application to wasp stings in Orissa.
  • Juice of leaves used for bee stings in India.
  • It is used for high blood pressure in Bermuda.
  • It is used for dysmenorrhea in Indo China.
  • It is used by Bapedi traditional healers for the treatment of gonorrhea in South Africa.

How to Make Periwinkle Tea

  • To make periwinkle tea you need 2 teaspoon of dried herbs (which is a mixture of leaf, flower, stem, root etc.)
  • Pour boiling water into the cup and let it steep for about 10-15 minutes once it is done, strain to remove the herbs and your cup of periwinkle tea is ready.
  • You can add honey or fruit juice to your cup if the taste is too bitter for you.
  • You must drink periwinkle tea in the morning before breakfast or it may upset stomach.


  • Periwinkle may cause flushing and gastrointestinal problems.
  • Avoid periwinkle tea if you’ve got liver, kidney or lung diseases. You should not drink it if you’ve got ailment such as constipated or low blood pressure.
  • Pregnant women must avoid periwinkle tea, as it may lead to birth defects or even miscarriages.
  • The breast feeding mother must also stay away from this tea as this in this case may affect the baby.
  • It is not advised to the people to drinking periwinkle tea before surgery and after surgery. It can lower blood pressure and it might lead to problems during and after the surgery. Consult your doctor and make sure you’re safe to drink periwinkle tea after a surgery.
  • Drinking more than 4 cups periwinkle tea is not recommended. The usual symptoms such as low blood pressure, constipation and other symptoms such as headaches, loss of appetite, insomnia, dizziness, and irregular heartbeats are seen in the people drinking tea.






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