MADAGASCAR PERIWINKLE, Catharanthus roseus


Latin Name:         Catharanthus roseus

English Names:  Madagascar periwinkle, Cape Periwinkle, Rose periwinkle

Sanskrit Name: Sadafuli

Indian name: Barmaasi

Medicinal Parts used: Leaves, seeds, flowers and roots

Catharanthus roseus is a species of Catharanthus native and endemic to Madagascar. It is an evergreen subshrub or herbaceous plant growing to 1 m tall. The 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. The flowers are white to dark pink with a darker red centre, with a basal tube 2.5-3 cm long and a corolla 2–5 cm diameter with five petal-like lobes. The fruit is a pair of follicles 2–4 cm long and 3 mm broad. It is widely cultivated and is naturalised in subtropical and tropical areas of the world.

In Ayurvedic medicine, the leaves, the seeds, the flowers and the roots are used for treatment of leukemia, diabetes, and menorrhagia. More recently, extracts from Madagascar periwinkle have been shown to be effective in the treatment of various kinds of leukemia, skin cancer, lymph cancer, breast cancer and Hodgkin’s disease.

Therapeutic use:

  • The fresh juice from the flowers of C. roseus made into a tea has been used by Ayurvedic physicians in India for external use to treat skin problems, dermatitis, eczema and acne.
  • The alkaloids vincristine and vinblastine from its sap have been shown to be an effective treatment for leukemia. Although the sap is poisonous if ingested, some 70 useful alkaloids have been identified from it.
  • In Madagascar, extracts have been used for hundreds of years in herbal medicine for the treatment of diabetes, as haemostatics and tranquilizers and as disinfectants. The extracts are not without their side effects, however, which include hair loss.
  • The root bark contains the alkaloid Alstonine which has been used traditionally for its
    calming effect and its ability to reduce blood pressure.

10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by verity reeves on September 11, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    hi, im just starting an essay on C.roseus, and im wondering why its referes to as both caranthus and catharanthus, is it just a shortening of the name?
    would be a great help for you to reply,
    thanks in advance


  2. I want to know about the CATHARANTHUS ROSEUS OR MEDAGASCAR PERIWINKLE is really effective for tumor.And how long time it takes for treatment of that disease.A patient is suffering from that disease tumor in her breast from last 7 year with out any harm. And now she is taking that herb for treatment so that i want to know about its effectiveness against tumor. please do inform in my email id.

    thanking you,


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