India is the largest producer of medicinal herbs and is called as “Botanical Garden of the World”. The World Health Organisation(WHO) has listed 21,000 plants which are used for medicinal purposes. Herbal medicine is gaining popularity both in developing and developed countries because of their natural origin.Medicinal herbs are used to treat diabetes in large proportion all over the Globe because of the easy availability and affordability.
Catharanthus roseus called Periwinkle and Nithyakalyani in Tamil, is an ornamental shrub widely distributed around the world. It is a rich source of alkaloid (plants that produce chemicals like nitrogen and oxygen) and plays a key role in health care. The plant is supposed to possess antibacterial, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anticancer and antiviral activities.
Nithyakalyani is a well known plant in cancer treatment. Anti-cancer drugs, vincristine and vinblastine were accidentally discovered when Nithyakalyani was being studied for anti-diabetic properties. They are used in the treatment of acute leukaemia in children. The plant extracts possess anti diabetic, anti helminthic, anti oxidant anti diarrhoeal properties. It has also been used in the treatment of gastritis, cystitis, enteritis, memory loss, toothache, circulatory disorders, chest complaints, throat infections, nose bleeds, bleeding gums, haemorrhoids, skin diseases such as acne, dermatitis and eczema etc.
The wound-healing property may be attributed to the phytoconstituents present in the plant, and the quicker process of wound healing could be a function of either the individual or the additive effects of the phytoconstituents. Phytochemical constituents like flavonoids and tri-terpenoids are known to promote wound healing process mainly due to their astringent and antimicrobial properties which appear to be responsible for wound contraction and increased rate of epithelialization.
Nithyakalyani For Diabetes
Periwinkle has been used for treating diabetes for many, many years, especially in the Philippines. Researchers tested the effect of periwinkle in treating diabetes on both normal and diabetic rabbits. The results supported what traditional healers have known all along that it reduces blood sugar levels equally like how a diabetic medicine would do.
In many parts of the world, periwinkle tea is used to treat diabetes. But please remember, just because it is an herbal preparation, it does not mean it is safe in all dosages. Especially for people who are already on diabetic medications, it might lower the blood glucose levels way too much. Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers should definitely avoid internal consumption of periwinkle.
To make the periwinkle tea, take the leaves and spread them on a plate and dry them under hot sun and powder it finely. Take the leaves in a plate and sundry till crisp and powder it well in a blender and store. To make the tea, boil a cup (200 ml) of water in a pan and add a big pinch of the powder and let it boil till the extract reduces a little and strain.
The alkaloids in this plant makes it very toxic at certain levels, so don’t take large amount of the powder and don’t have this tea on a daily basis. If you want to consume periwinkle for treating diabetes, it is best done under medical supervision as it might have serious side effects, if consumed more than a certain amount.
1. Karthikeyan J, Kavitha V et al. Medicinal plants and diabetes mellitus: A review. Journal of pharmacognosy and phytochemistry. 2017; 6(4): 1270-1279.
2. Swathi Nair, Gowtham P et al. Some promising medicinal plants with anti-diabetic wound healing activity: A Review. Asian Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology. 2018; 4(4): 379-385.
3. N. Siddharthan, G. Kalaivani et al. Characterisation of silver nano particles synthesised from Catheranthus roseus(Vinca rosea) plant leaf extract and their antibacterial activity. International journal of research and analytical reviews.2019.