Catharanthus roseus (Vinca rosea)

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Catharanthus roseus
common Names: Vinca, Cape periwinkle, rose periwinkle, rosy periwinkle, and “old-maid”.It was formerly included in the genus Vinca as Vinca rosea.

A Catharanthus Roseus flower in Hyderabad, Pakistan
Catharanthus roseus, commonly known as the Madagascar periwinkle, rosy periwinkle or teresita as it is usually named in the southern part of Mexico, specifically in Champotón, Campeche and Mérida, Catharanthes is a species of flowering plant in the dogbane family Apocynaceae. It is native and endemic to Madagascar, but grown elsewhere as an ornamental and medicinal plant, a source of the drugs vincristine and vinblastine, used to treat cancer.

The species has long been cultivated for herbal medicine and as an ornamental plant. In Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine) the extracts of its roots and shoots, though poisonous, is used against several diseases. In traditional Chinese medicine, extracts from it have been used against numerous diseases, including diabetes, malaria, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.Many of the vinca alkaloids were first isolated from Catharanthus roseus. The substances vinblastine and vincristine extracted from the plant are used in the treatment of leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Description:

As an ornamental plant, it is appreciated for its hardiness in dry and nutritionally deficient conditions, popular in subtropical gardens where temperatures never fall below 5 °C to 7 °C, and as a warm-season bedding plant in temperate gardens. It is noted for its long flowering period, throughout the year in tropical conditions, and from spring to late autumn, in warm temperate climates. Full sun and well-drained soil are preferred. Numerous cultivars have been selected, for variation in flower colour (white, mauve, peach, scarlet and reddish-orange), and also for tolerance of cooler growing conditions in temperate regions. Notable cultivars include ‘Albus’ (white flowers), ‘Grape Cooler’ (rose-pink; cool-tolerant), the Ocellatus Group (various colours), and ‘Peppermint Cooler’ (white with a red centre; cool-tolerant).

C. roseus is used in plant pathology as an experimental host for phytoplasmas. This is because it is easy to infect with a large majority of phytoplasmas, and also often has very distinctive symptoms such as phyllody and significantly reduced leaf size.

Medicinal Uses:
The species has long been cultivated for herbal medicine and as an ornamental plant.
In Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine) the extracts of its roots and shoots, though poisonous, is used against several diseases. In traditional Chinese medicine, extracts from it have been used against numerous diseases, including diabetes, malaria, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Many of the vinca alkaloids were first isolated from Catharanthus roseus. The substances vinblastine and vincristine extracted from the plant are used in the treatment of leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Therapeutic Uses:

1. Anti-cancer – The stems and leaves of Vinca Rosea contain anti-cancer alkaloids like Vinblastine and Vincristine, which inhibit the growth of certain human cancers. While the former is used to treat neoplasmas (cancers) and is highly recommended for conditions like Chorio Carcinoma and Hodgkins disease, the latter is used to treat leukemia in children. In his study published in Online Journal of Biological Sciences, Shivananda Nayak says, that the alkaloids are used as “antineoplastic agents to treat leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, malignant lymphomas, neuroblastoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, Wilms’ tumor and other cancers. Its vasodilating and memory-enhancing properties have been shown to alleviate vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease”.

2. Anti-diabetic – The leaves and flowers of Vinca Rosea contain ethanol extracts, which can be compared to gliben clamide, a standard drug that lowers blood sugar. It has a hypo-glycaemic effect, a result of increased glucose utilization in liver. A research published in International Journal of Endocrinology by Mohammed Fazil Ahmed et al. in 2010 says, “These extracts also showed improvement in parameters like body weight and lipid profile as well as regeneration of cells of pancreas and so might be of value in diabetes treatment.”

3. Anti-bacterial – Crude leaf extracts from different plant parts showed anti- bacterial properties. These extracts were used as prophylactic agents to treat diseases caused by microorganisms including Pseudomonas aeruginosa NCIM2036, Staphylococus aureus NCIM5021, Salmonella typhimuruim NCIM2501, to name a few.

4. Anti-diarrheal – Testing the plant’s ethanol leaf extracts in the wistar rats showed dose- dependent inhibition of diarrhoea. In this experiment, castor oil was used as the diarrhoea inducing agent. A study published in African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology says that, “the ethanol extract of C. Roseus possesses significant antidiarrheal effect and corroborate the use of this herbal remedy as non-specific treatment for diarrhoea in folk medicine.”

5. Antioxidant – Rosea (pink flower) and Alba (white flower) are two varieties of C. Roseus, whose roots contain ethanol extracts that have a scavenging effect. They possess significant antioxidant properties.

6. Anti-Helminthic – Many humans and cattle are mostly affected by Helminthes infections resulting in chronic illnesses. C. Roseus is an effective anthelminthic agent. Significant anti helminthic activity has been shown by ethanol extracts of 250 mg/ml concentration. A research published in Innovative Journal by Akash Jain in his research on comparative study on anthelmintic activity of different C. Roseus extracts says, “The leaf extracts of Catharanthus Roseus show potent anthelmintic activity.”

A Low-Down on 6 Medicinal Uses of Vinca Roseus–

According to International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences, “the roots of the plant was found to accumulate ajmalicine and serpentine, which are the important components of medicines that are used for controlling high blood pressure and other types of the cardio-vascular maladies”.

Vinca Rosea’s some other medicinal uses from various parts and extracts of the plant are:

Internal medicine – Effectively treats hypertension, gastritis, cystitis, enteritis, memory loss, toothache, circulatory disorders, chest complaints, throat infections, etc.
Pain relieving ointment – Application of the paste of crushed leaves on wounds/affected areas relieves pain
Leaf oil & Flower extracts – Treats nose bleeds, bleeding gums and bleeding haemorrhoids, eye infection and eye irritation
Periwinkle concoctions – Treats mouth ulcers (alkaloids like vincamine and vindoline), controls bleeding, regulates menstrual periods
Relieves symptoms of skin diseases such as acne, dermatitis and eczema
Quickens healing process and stops bleeding.
Although Vinca Rosea has multiple medicinal uses and therapeutic effects, it could still have several unknown facts to be explored. Effective novel drug formulations with lesser side effects could be explored with this plant and that too, at a cheaper cost.

Disclaimer: It is normally in raw form considered as Poisonous for Human Consuption..

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