Catharanthus roseus – Madagascar periwinkle (Sadapushpa)

An Overview, Benefits, Side Effects and Interactions

Best used for Cancer including Leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Family Name: Apocynaceae (Oleander family)

Botanical Name: Lochnera rosea, Catharanthus roseus, Vinca rosea

English Name: Madagascar periwinkle, Rosy periwinkle, Bright eyes, Old maid

Hindi Name: Sadabahar, Sadapushpa, Sadasuhagin

Taste: Astringent, Bitter

Nature: Hot

Parts Used: Whole plant, Roots, Leaves


Madagascar periwinkle is an evergreen shrub that grows 1 m tall. It is native and endemic to Madagascar, where it is now endangered due to habitat destruction. It is grown in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world as an ornamental and medicinal plant. It has escaped from cultivation and naturalized near houses, in disturbed sites, and in natural habitats in seasonal dry and humid climate. The species produces numerous small seeds that can be easily dispersed by ants, wind and water, but it can be also propagated vegetatively by cuttings. The flowers are white to dark pink with a darker red centre and five petal-like lobes.

Chemical Constituents

Vinblastine and Vincristine, chemotherapy medications used to treat several types of cancers are found in the aerial parts of the plant. The dried root is an industrial source of Ajmalicine which increases the blood flow in the brain and peripheral parts of the body. In addition there are Serpentine, Reserpine, Alkaloids, Alstonine, Furfural, Leurocristine, Sesquiterpenes, Sulfur and Volatile oil. The extracts of its roots and shoots, though poisonous, are used against several diseases.

Mode of Action and Uses

  1. Kapha Vata shamak.
  2. It has Anti-inflammatory and Antibacterial properties. Local application stops bleeding, relieves insect bites, wasp stings; and treats infection and swelling.
  3. It efficiently lowers High blood pressure.
  4. It is best used for Cancer including Leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  5. It is used against Diabetes, Malaria and Dysentery.
  6. It is used for Sore throat. It is also used as a cough remedy, for easing lung congestion.
  7. It reduces fluid retention by increasing urine production (as a diuretic).
  8. Preparations of Ajmalicine are used to treat the psychological and behavioural problems of senility, sensory problems (dizziness, tinnitus), cranial traumas and their neurological complications.

Side Effects and Risk Factors

  1. Madagascar periwinkle is UNSAFE when taken by mouth due to the presence of poisonous chemicals known as vinca alkaloids.
  2. Can cause nausea, vomiting, nerve problems, seizures, hair loss, hearing loss and dizziness.
  3. UNSAFE in Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Children under 2 years of age.

Drug Interactions

Lithium and Anti-diabetic drugs interact moderately with Madagaskar periwinkle. Their doses need to be adjusted.

Talk with your Health care provider before using Madagaskar periwinkle.



Catharanthus Roseus –

Catharanthus roseus – Wikipedia

Madagascar Periwinkle: Uses, Side Effects … – WebMD

Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle) – CABI

DRAVYAGUNA-VIJNANA Vol.2 (vegetable Drugs) by Prof. P.V.Sharma, Chaukhambha Bharati Academy, Varanasi, Sixteenth Edition:1995. 9th Chapter, Jwaraghnadi varga: Anti-cancer drugs (page no.-831)

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