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What are the Uses and Health Benefits of Madagascar Periwinkle (Catharanthus Roseus)?

Madagascar Periwinkle, Catharanthus roseus

What is Madagascar Periwinkle?

In India, herbal medicines date back several thousand years which is still widely practiced today. Recently, there has been a shift in the universal trend from synthetic to herbal medicine.

The Ayurvedic science contains the treasure of numerous herbs. The ancient medical science helps to treat and manage the various health conditions in a natural way.

One such plant is Catharanthus roseus which is easily available and enjoys a very good reputation in indigenous medicine. The plant alkaloids are hypotensive, sedative, anti-cancerous, relieves the muscular system and possess other health benefits.

  • Botanical Name: Cantharanthus roseus
  • Hindi Name: Sadabahar
  • Common Names: Periwinkle, Rosy periwinkle, Old maid
  • Family: Apocyanaceae

Geographical Distribution

There are 8 species of Madagascar periwinkle out of which seven are native to Madagascar and only one species i.e. Catharanthus pusillus is a native to India. This plant is commonly found in India.

Catharanthus roseus is native to the Madagascar Island of Indian Ocean. In many parts of the world, it has been introduced as a popular ornamental plant. Apart from an ornamental plant, it has medicinal properties as well.

What are the Medicinal Properties of Madagascar Periwinkle?

  • Taste: Bitter, Astringent
  • Qualities: Light, Dry and Sharp
  • Potency: Hot
  • Light to digest
  • Undergoes pungent taste after digestion

What are the Chemical Constituents of Madagascar Periwinkle?

It contains carbohydrates, flavonoids, saponins and alkaloids. Alkaloids are the active chemical constituents of Catharanthus roseus. There are more than 400 alkaloids present in the plant which are used in various pharmaceutical formulations.

The alkaloids present are: Vinblastin, Vincrestine, Vindesine, Vindeline are mainly present in aerial parts whereas Ajmalicine, Vinceine, Vineamine, Reserpine, Raubasin, Catharanthine etc. are present in the roots as well as in the basal stem.

What are the Health Benefits of Madagascar Periwinkle?


The smooth and glossy leaves of this plant act as a natural medicine for Type-2 diabetes.

  • It's leaves and flowers are used to control blood sugar levels.
  • Herbal tea can be prepared from its flowers and leaves and can be consumed in the morning or chew 3-4 leaves to get the desired results.


The leaves and stems of this plant contain alkaloids that have anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties.

Wound Healer

The alkaloids present in the leaves of Sadabahar help in wound healing.

  • A fine paste of Sadabahar leaves and turmeric is made.
  • Apply this paste on the wounds 2-3 times a day.
  • This remedy serves as an excellent wound healer.

Nasal and Mouth Bleeding

The fresh juice of Sadabahar flower acts as a good remedy for nasal and mouth bleeding.

  • Sadabahar flowers combined with pomegranate buds help in relieving nasal and mouth bleeding.
  • This mixture is instilled in nostrils during nostril bleeding.
  • If this mixture is retained in mouth, bleeding gums, mouth ulcers and sore throats are also relieved.


Its leaves are useful in borderline hypertension.

  • For hypertension, 5 fresh leaves of sadabahar are collected and its juice is extracted.
  • 2-3 ml of juice is administered early in the morning. This remedy is helpful in controlling blood pressure.

Skin Lesions

Take equal quantity of sadabahar leaves and turmeric rhizome.

  • This can be applied externally on the scars. Regular application of this mixture on the skin lesions give excellent results.

Irregular Menstruation

Its leaves decoction is used in the treatment of irregular menstruation.

  • 6-8 fresh leaves of Sadabahar leaves of the plant is boiled with 2 cups of water.
  • Boil until 1 cup of water is remained.
  • Take this decoction for three consecutive menstrual cycles.
  • This remedy is quite useful in heavy menstrual flow as well for regularizing scanty flow.


Sadabahar is used in the treatment of leukemia, Hodgkin's lymphoma. Its leaves and stems are a source of alkaloids that have anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties.

  • The plant is a mitotic inhibitor and is therefore used in cancer chemotherapy as well.
  • The substances such as: Vinblastine and Vincristine extracted from the plant is used in the treatment of leukemia and Hodgkin's lymphoma.
  • It contains a group of alkaloids that are extremely toxic and therefore useful in cancer treatment.
  • Vinblastine and Vincristine can be used in purified form to treat leukemia and lymphoma.
  • It's extract shows tremendous results in childhood leukemia as well.

What are the Other Uses of Madagascar Periwinkle?

  • It has the property of detoxification and counteracting poison so it is used to relieve wasp stings.
  • The alkaloids present in Sadabahar plant help in improving blood supply to the brain and increases the level of oxygen in the brain.
  • It is useful in treating gastritis, dysentery, diarrhea.
  • The alkaloid known as vincamine is present in its leaves which has blood thinning and memory enhancing properties. Therefore, it is useful in preventing dementia especially vascular dementia.
  • The alkaloids also possess sedative and tranquilizing properties.


  • It should not be used for long term as it is hot in potency and loaded with multiple chemical constituents.
  • It should be used with caution by pregnant or lactating mothers as it may cause acid peptic disorders.


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