Treating Mouth Cancer

Herbal Treatment for Mouth Cancer

Rose Periwinkle

Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don Apocynaceae (syn. Ammocallis rosea (L.) Small; Lochnera rosea (L.) Rchb.; Vinca rosea L.) Local Names : pua na purpur (Kuanua, East New Britain); palwa theresia (Kurti, Manus Province); falava (Rigo, Central Province).

English Names : Rose periwinkle, Madagascar periwinkle, Old-maid.


Herb to 30 cm high, glabrous, subwoody at the base, and profusely branched. Leaves opposite, smooth, oblong-oval, blunt, or rounded at the apex, short petioled, 15-40 x 6-15 cm. The broken stem exudes a milky latex sap. Flowers borne in upper axils, tubular, 5-lobed; colour may be white with a yellow-eye, white with a crimson eye, or lavender pink with a crimson eye. Fruits green with longitudinal grooves. Flowers bloom all the year.


Arid coastal locations; near houses and in coconut plantations. Distribution. Native of Madagascar, the plant is naturalized in most of the tropical and subtropical world. It is naturalized and widely distributed and cultivated as an ornamental plant in Papua New Guinea. Cultivated widely in the tropics.


Plant contains over 100 alkaloids including vincristine, vinblastine, vinleurosine, vinrozidine, vincerine, catharanthine, ajmalicine, serpentine, vincadioline, vincaline, vincamicine, vincarodine, vincathicine, vinceine, vincolidine, vincoline, vincubine, vindolicine, vindolidine, vindoline, vindolinine, vindorosine, vinesesine, vinosidine, vinsedicine, vinsedine, virosine, vivaspine, yohimbine, etc. Biological Activity1. Animal repellent, antibacterial, antidiuretic, antifertilty, antihypercholesterolemic, antihyperglycemic, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, antimitotic, antimutagenic, antispasmodic, antitumour, CNS depressant, hyperglycaemic, larvicidal, smooth muscle relaxant, toxic effect (general).

Traditional Medicinal Uses

The decoction of the leaves is taken orally to treat mouth cancer.

Other uses:

Hot water extract of the roots is taken orally for stomachache. The whole plant is boiled in water, cooled and solution used to bathe a patient with scabies. Leaves are heated gently on a fire and massaged on the affected parts of the body to reduce swelling.

References: 1) Ross, I.A., Medicinal Plants of the World, (1999), Humana Press, Totowa, New Jersey; 109-118.

2) Traditional Medicine Database, (2002), National Department of Health, Govt. of Papua New Guinea, Waigani, N.C.D., Papua New Guinea.

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