Periwinkle or Madagascar periwinkle, a perennial herb with beautiful flowers has a significant place in health care. Scientifically, it is known as Catharanthus roseus. In India, this plant is renowned with the name of Sada bahar, Ainskati, Sadaphul, Nayantara, Ushamanjairi and Nithyakalyani. The medicinal and therapeutic properties of this plant is due to its alkaloids. Periwinkle is known to contain more than 120 alkaloids (terpenoid indole).
From ancient times, this plant is an essential part of traditional medicine in the various parts of the world.
• In Madagascar: The extract of this plant used to treat health problems like low blood pressure, diabetes and acts as disinfectants.
• In China: This plant is used as a cough remedy, astringent and diuretic.
• In India: The juice of the leaves of this plant is known to tackle the problem of wasp stings.
• In South and Central America: This plant used to treat inflammation, sore throat, and lung congestion.
• In Hawaii: The plant boiled and utilized to stop bleeding.
• In the Caribbean: The extract of its flower known to manage eye infections and irritation.
Other than these, this plant is also known for its memory-enhancing, vasodilating, antispasmodic and antihypertensive properties.
Except for these, this plant is also famous for one more thing. The alkaloids present in this plant are renowned to treat the various types of cancers. It involves neuroblastoma, leukemia, malignant lymphomas, Eilms' tumor, Breast cancer, Lung cancer, Colon cancer, Hodgkin's disease, Ovary cancer and many other cancers. Many of the alkaloids of this plant are known as antineoplastic agents. This is the reason, this plant can be used along with many cancer treatments as adjuvant or complementary therapy or can be used for cancer prevention.
Cancer prevention is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of various types of cancers. BY adopting a healthy lifestyle (mediterranean diet, no red meat, no smoking, no processed meats and physically active life) and avoiding false eating habits and cancer enhancing foods (high in fiber) you can lower the risk of developing cancer. Cancer prevention also involves the intake of various herbs in form of infusion, food or medicine to counter the imbalance created in the body. Consumption of these herbs significantly lead many positive changes in your body, which further help in preventing cancer occurrence.
One of such is Periwinkle.
Periwinkle alkaloids such as vincristine, vinblastine and their derivatives act as potent anti-cancer agents. These alkaloids possess many cancer preventive properties:
• Arrest cancer cell proliferation
• Induce programmed cell death (apoptosis)
• Decrease the hyper production of white blood cells, thereby can be efficient against cancers like lymphoma
• Inhibits cell division in mitosis phase
Through these mechanisms of actions, this plant can prevent the cancer growth and its initiation.
How to take or consume Periwinkle?
You can take it as tea by boiling 10 leaves and flowers of Periwinkle, or by boiling 9 pink flowers in half liter water for about 3 hours.
Warning – This plant might cause side effects like vomiting, nausea or stomach problems. For regular consumption, take this under physician guidance.
The incidence of cancer is increasing at a faster pace since last decade. Various herbal formulations and chemotherapies are used broadly to lower the risk of cancer. Periwinkle is an efficacious name in cancer prevention via herbal approach. The analysis of its potent compounds against cancer is still under investigation. There is much more to study and evaluate the role of this plant in the treatment of cancers. In the forthcoming years, the ingredients like C. roseus, ginger, allium vegetables, olive oil and curcumin can be expected to be in the mainstream of cancer treatment with minimal side effects.