Catharanthus roseus is a tropical plant used in traditional herbal medicine in regions of the world where it historically grows. Madagascar periwinkle, the common name of this medicinal and ornamental plant, indicates where the species originated. The plant contains dozens of alkaloids, including vinblastine, which was found to have anti-tumor properties. Medication made from this alkaloid is used to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an immune system cancer. A second alkaloid, vincristine, is utilized for treating leukemia in children. It has been credited with significantly improving the survival rate of victims of childhood leukemia. Indian Ayurvedic medicine and other traditional herbal systems use C. roseus for the treatment of diabetes. Insect stings are relieved using a juice from the leaves. Herbal use in the Caribbean includes using extracts from the flowers as an eyewash for infants. The flowers are also used for treating asthma and excess gas. Other traditional herbal treatments include using the plant for painful menstruation, tuberculosis and rheumatism.
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