The medicinal power of vinca or small periwinkle

Small periwinkle is a beautiful, decorative and flowery plant. It is used as an ornamental plant all over the world. In addition, it has medicinal properties. Vinca is mainly used against all kinds of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and stroke. It makes you think more clearly. This means it can also be used if you have to do a lot of intellectual work, for example during an exam. The flowers of the vinca can be eaten. You can place them on top of a green salad for decoration. In addition, the purple, five-petalled flowers can decorate the dollop of whipped cream on a cake. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing periwinkle / Source: Janus (Jan) Kops, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Contents:

  • Naming small periwinkle
  • Vinca among the antiques
  • The magic of periwinkle
  • Periwinkle from the 16th century to the present
  • Active substances periwinkle
  • Periwinkle, good for the brain
  • Periwinkle, good for the heart and blood vessels
  • Periwinkle, against blood loss
  • Other medicinal effects of periwinkle
  • Periwinkle for external use
  • Consult a herbal therapist

 

Naming small periwinkle

All plants have scientific names used by researchers. This way there is no misunderstanding about the exact species we are talking about. The Latin name of periwinkle is Vinca Minor . Vinca is derived from ‘vincire’ which means to bind. It can also be derived from ‘vincere’ which means to overcome. Due to its medicinal properties, the little periwinkle overcomes diseases. Minor means ‘small’. The vinca minor is a low-growing flowery plant. The plant is probably called periwinkle because in ancient times it was customary to wrap deceased, unmarried ladies with a wreath of flowers from this plant. In addition, brides wore a wreath of periwinkle as a sign of her virginal status. In Dutch, the plant has a number of alternative names: Small periwinkle, Wild palm, Palm flower, Maiden wort, Stone violet, Vine violet, Heeskruid, Hoedje, Wenk, Medekenspalm, Alikruid, Witches violet, Evergreen, Small fin cord and Rousseau herb.

Vinca among the antiques

Vinca was known in Sumeria and ancient Egypt, but it is not known whether they used the plant for medicinal purposes. Dioscorides, pioneer of medicine and herbal science, used periwinkle for nosebleeds, diarrhoea, dropsy and to accelerate the healing process of wounds. In addition, in ancient Greece and the ancient Romans it was a means to purify and detoxify the blood. Galen and Pliny reported the same uses as Dioscorides.

The magic of periwinkle

Periwinkle was seen around the 11th century as a plant that offered protection against magic. If someone was under a spell, they could break the spell by using vinca. Devilish diseases were also cured with it. In addition, it was a means to preventively remain free from the influence of magic spells. Magicians and poets used the flower for its positive properties for consciousness. Poets claimed that periwinkle provides inspiration.

Periwinkle / Source: H. Zell, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Periwinkle from the 16th century to the present

Agricola wrote in the 16th century that periwinkle was good for sore throats and Matthiolus recommended it for nosebleeds. Rembert Dodoens, the pioneering herbal scientist wrote that the plant could be used for bloody diarrhea, wounds, injuries, dental abscesses and nosebleeds. In folk medicine, vinca minor has long been used for its medicinal properties in: diarrhea, dysentery, excessive menstrual bleeding, bleeding hemorrhoids, nosebleeds, stomach pain, hoarseness, brochitis and as a blood cleansing agent. In addition, people noticed that thoughts are better organized by using small periwinkle. The latter appears to be due to the dilating effect the plant has on the small blood vessels in the brain.

Active substances periwinkle

The entire above-ground part of the plant is used for periwinkle. It is picked during the flowering period. It contains at least 13 major indole alkaloids. The plant also contains; tannins, flavonols and betasitosterol. To a lesser extent it contains the following substances: formic acid, acetic acid, butyric acid and succinic acid, triterpene steroids, phenolic acids, saponins, bitter substances, vitamin C, pectin and the minerals calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium and manganese.

Periwinkle, good for the brain

Periwinkle has a dilating effect on the cerebral blood vessels. This increases cerebral blood flow. This involves a large oxygen and glucose supply. The brain cells can perform their functions better. The resulting improvement in the intracellular mechanism leads to a more efficient functioning of the neurotransmitters. Vincamine, eburmamonin and flavonoids provide these medicinal effects. Furthermore, the adhesion of platelets is prevented; in other words, it is a natural blood thinner. Due to this beautiful range of medicinal activities, periwinkle is used by herbalists for the following indications:

Periwinkle flower / Source: Algirdas, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

  • Concentration disorders, memory weakness,
  • Decreased alertness, reduced thinking ability,
  • Dizziness, balance disorders,
  • Tinnitus, reduced hearing,
  • Headache, migraine,
  • Speech and motor disorders,
  • Retinal disorders, reduced vision,
  • Emotional disorders, anxiety, insecurity, irritability,
  • Depression, thought disorders, restlessness,
  • Decreased social behavior,
  • Preventing and tackling Alzheimer’s,
  • Preventing and tackling CVA or stroke,
  • Preventing and tackling retinal hemorrhages,
  • Consequences of head injury,
  • Meniere’s disease,
  • Intellectual work, exams, decrease ability to concentrate.

 

Periwinkle, good for the heart and blood vessels

Periwinkle dilates the coronary arteries. This improves coronary blood flow. It is also a blood pressure lowering agent. Because the blood flows better through the veins, the heart rhythm automatically slows down. The same amount of blood continues to flow through the veins. Due to these medicinal effects, it can be used by herbal therapists for:

  • Inadequate blood flow in the coronary arteries,
  • Adjuvant for angina pectoris,
  • Adjuvant for hypertension or high blood pressure,
  • Against complaints associated with hypertension such as headache, dizziness, palpitations, tinnitus, shortness of breath, visual disturbances and retinal disorders.

 

Periwinkle, against blood loss

Periwinkle has an astringent or astringent effect and is at the same time a haemostatic. The tannins are responsible for these medicinal effects. The ancient physicians were therefore right in their observations about the use of this plant for nosebleeds or excessive menstrual bleeding. This medicinal power is currently used by phytotherapists for the following indications:

  • Excessive menstrual bleeding,
  • Haematomas (bruises),
  • nosebleeds,
  • Internal bleeding,
  • white tide,
  • Diarrhea, dysentery,
  • Enteritis.

 

Other medicinal effects of periwinkle

  • Because it has an astringent effect, it can be used for bronchitis.
  • Because vinca has a calming effect, it is used for restlessness, irritability, insomnia and anxiety.
  • Due to the fact that it is a tonic or overall strengthening agent, it is used for anemia.
  • Because it is an appetizing herb, it is used for anorexia.

 

Periwinkle for external use

The astringent, haemostatic and wound healing properties of periwinkle can be used externally.

Periwinkle flower / Source: Beentree, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Compress, washing:

  • Wounds,
  • Bruising,
  • Nosebleed.

 

Vaginal rinse:

  • White tide.

 

Gargle:

  • Oral mucosal inflammation, canker sores,
  • A sore throat,
  • Tonsillitis.

 

Consult a herbal therapist

Anyone who wants to use periwinkle as a medicinal remedy is recommended to consult a herbal therapist. Minor periwinkle extracts and medicines in the form of mother tincture, powder, dried herb, liquid extract and decoction should only be used on the prescription of authorized persons. A herbal therapist can tell you more about this, as well as about possible side effects and interactions with other medicines or herbs. There are also beneficial combinations with herbs. Some herbs can enhance each other’s effects; that’s called synergy. All medicinal effects of this medicinal herb mentioned in this article are based on scientific research and come from Geert Verhelst’s Large Handbook of Medicinal Plants, a standard work in the field of healing plants. The book is used in phytotherapy.

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