Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus)

Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus)

Other common names: Vinca rosea (syn.), Lochnera rosea (syn.), rosy periwinkle, cape periwinkle, magdalena, old maid, church flower

The following information may not be re-posted, copied or published without my permission and appropriate credit given. Please contact me via email (listed on the About page) if you wish to re-publish any of the information on my blog.

Family: Apocynaceae


Astringent, tonic, antimicrobial, diuretic, antitussive, lowers blood sugar, styptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-pruritic, decongestant, anticarcinogenic/antitumorigenic.

Part used: Roots, shoots


Rosinadin, vinblastine and vincristine, and others.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/prashantby

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/prashantby


*Note: The internal indications below are for traditional medicinal information only – there are toxic constituents in this plant which make it dangerous for internal use except under careful, qualified medical supervision.

Fluid retention, itching, insect bites, hyperglycemia, bleeding, swelling/inflammation, congestion, sore throat, respiratory infection, cancer (constituents of this plant are used in chemotherapy – vinblastine, and vincristine – but do not use it for this purpose without the advice of a healthcare practitioner).

Medicinal preparations:

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Matt Kieffer

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Matt Kieffer


Not safe for internal use, except for as administered by a qualified practitioner.


The rosy periwinkle can be applied to the skin for the treatment of skin irritations, insect bites, or infections. While it’s renowned as being a styptic to stop bleeding, I would use great caution and only use it for this in the case of an emergency. I wouldn’t normally put a plant with toxic compounds onto an open wound.


Toxic compounds exist in this plant. Do not use internally without the supervision and direction of a physician. It specifically interacts with diabetes medications and lithium. Symptoms of poisoning include: Nausea, vomiting, hair loss, bleeding, low blood sugar, seizures, dizziness and hearing loss – it can be fatal.

I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns.

Energetic/traditional use:

It was once believed that periwinkle stems tied around a limb could stop cramping. It was also believed to prevent nightmares and hysteria, calming the nervous system of those afflicted. Historically it was used for diabetics, in place of insulin…this was not the best idea.

Energetically, this plant has a hot, dry constitution. It brings the warmth of comfort, forgiveness, and social closeness. It can also unveil the truth, burning down illusions. It’s a competitive plant. It binds the plants around it, so that others may not take over the ground where it grows. Maybe that’s why it is so suited to cancer therapy.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.

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