Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don (= Vinca rosea L.)

DeFilipps, Robert A. & Krupnick, Gary A., 2018, The medicinal plants of Myanmar, PhytoKeys 102, pp. 1-341: 11

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Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don (= Vinca rosea L.)


Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don (= Vinca rosea L.) 


Myanmar: thinbaw-ma-hnyoe, thinbaw-ma-hnyo-pan, thinbaw-ma-hnyo-pan-aphyu. English: Madagascar periwinkle, periwinkle, vinca.


Endemic to Madagascar (endangered), but cultivated and naturalized throughout the tropics of both hemispheres, sometimes extending to the subtropics. Found growing naturally around Myanmar; also cultivated.


This plant is known for neutralizing poisons, facilitating digestion, and promoting weight gain. Whole plant: Used to treat diabetes. A boiled water extract of the five parts used to treat diabetes. Leaf: Drinking the aqueous extract of leaves alleviates hemor-rhaging during menstruation.

Although there are two kinds of plants - with white or reddish brown flowers - only the plant with the reddish brown flowers is used.


Medicinal uses of this species in India are discussed in Jain and DeFilipps (1991) as follows: A tea made of the whole plant is used for chitis. The leaf is used for menorrhagia (infusion), wasp stings (juice), and diabetes. The root is used as a purgative and for hypertension; also for leukemia, and is considered anti-cancerous. Medicinal use of this species in China is discussed by Duke and Ayensu (1985). Here the plant is used as an astringent, bechic, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue; also as an anti-cancer agent.

The species contains the alkaloid serpentine which, like reserpine, is hypotensive, sedative, and tranquilizing ( Duke and Ayensu 1985).

Catharanthus roseus  compounds have been used to develop anticancer drugs, including vinblastine and vincristine ( van der Heijden et al. 2004, Ram and Kumari 2001). Duke and Ayensu (1985) extensively discuss the chemical constituents of the plant that are considered valuable in treating various cancers, noting that "More than 50 alkaloids have been identified from this major medicinal plant," and the species contains several hypo-glycemic alkaloids (catharanthine, leurosine sulphate, lochnerine, tetrahydro- alstonine, vindoline, and vindolinine) used in treating various cancers.


Nordal (1963), Agricultural Corporation (1980).