Tsitsirika is an erect, smooth or slightly hairy, simple or slightly branched plant, 30 to 50 centimeters high.
Stems are somewhat woody. Leaves are oblong, 4 to 7 centimeters long, rounded at
tip, pointed at base. Flowers are white, pink, or red, or variegated
white and red, 3.5 cm to 5 centimeters across, borne in the axils of the
leaves. Calyx-lobes are green and very slender. about 4 millimeters long. Corolla-tube is slender, 2.5 to 3 centimeters long, and pale green; the limb is spreading with obliquely obovate lobes 1.7 to 2.5 centimeters wide. Fruit is a hairy and cylindric follicle, 2 to 3 centimeters long.
- Introduced as an ornamental.
- A native of tropical America.
Flowers all year-round.
- Established in many parts of the Philippines and is often very abundant
along sandy seashores.
- Now pantropic.
- Leaves yield a
volatile oil containing aldehyde, sesquiterpenes, furfural, sulphur-containing
compounds, lochnerol, vincamine, vinpocetin (ethyl aponvincminate), vincarosin.
Plant yields an amorphous
- Compounds identified: Alkaloids (vincristine, vinblastine, ibogaine, yohimbine, raubasine), flavonoids (hirsutidin).
- Plant yields more than 100 monoterpenoid indole alkaloids.
Leaves and stems yield dimeric alkaloids vincristine and vinblastine.
- Roots yield ajmalicine and serpentine.
- Study on elemental composition of leaves yielded
- Leaves are vomitive.
- Leaf alkaloids considered anti-cancer.
Roots are purgative, vermifuge, depurative, hemostatic.
- Considered antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral.
Leaves, whole plant.
- In the Philippines, decoction of leaves used in diabetes.
- Decoction of young leaves used for stomach cramps.
- Root decoction for intestinal parasitism; as emmenagogue; may produce
- Infusion of leaves used for treating menorrhagia.
- Crude leaf extract has anticancer activity.
- Recent use of roots for anticancer applications.
- Roots used for dysentery.
- In Madagascar, the bitter and astringent leaves used as vomitive; roots used as purgative, vermifuge, depurative, hemostatic and toothache remedy.
- In Orissa, juice of leaves used as application to wasp stings.
- In Mauritius, infusion of leaves used for indigestion and dyspepsia.
- In Ayurveda, used for diabetes.
- In India, juice of leaves used for bee
- In India, West Indies, and Nigeria used for diabetes.
- In Cuba and Jamaica,
flower extract used for eyewash in infants.
- In the Bahamas, flower decoction used for
- In Bermuda, used for high blood pressure.
- In Malaysia, plant decoction used for diabetes, hypertension, insomnia, and cancer.
- In Indo-China, used for dysmenorrhea.
Study on the leaf
juice of C roseus showed a dose-dependent lowering of blood glucose
in both normal and diabetic rabbits comparable to the standard drug,
glibenclamide. The mechanism of action was probably through enhanced
secretion of insulin from the ß-cells. (1)
• Antidiabetic: Study of C roseus,
A indica and A sativum showed significant antidiabetic activity for
all three medicinal plants supporting its Ayurvedic use for diabetes. (3) Study of aqueous extract of leaves in alloxan induced diabetic rats significantly (p<0.001) decreased blood glucose levels and decreased TC, LDL, VLDL and TG close to normal levels.
• Anti-Cancer: The anti-cancer drugs, vincristine and vinblastine,
are derived from the alkaloids of periwinkle. The alkaloid has growth
inhibition effects to some human tumors. Vinblastine is used experimentally
for treatment of neoplasms and is recommended for Hodgkin's disease
and choriocarcinoma. Vincristine, another alkaloid, is used for leukemia
in children. Vinblastin is sold as Velban; vincristine, as Oncovin.
• Anti-Bacterial: Crude
extracts from different parts of C roseus was tested for antibacterial
activity. Extracts from the leaves showed significantly higher efficacy.
Study suggests that bioactive compounds of CR can be a potentially exploited
as antibacterial agents. (4)
• Anti-Bacterial: Study showed pattern of inhibition depends on extraction procedure, part of plant used, state of plant, solvent used, and microorganism tested. The ethanolic extract was most active against almost all bacterial organisms tested. Gram positive bacteria were found more sensitive than gram-negative ones. (11)
• Cytochrome P450 Inhibition:
Study isolated two triterpenes and three alkaloids. Two
alkaloids, ajmalicine and serpentine showed very potent inhibitory activity
against CYP2D6. (5)
• Wound Healing / Flowers: Study
showed increased wound contraction and tensile strength, increased hydroxyproline
content and supports the topical use of CR in wound healing. (6)
• Triadimefon / Antioxidant / Ajmalicine: The effects of triadmefon, a triazole compound on the antioxidant potentials and root alkaloid ajmalicine content were studies in two varieties of C roseus, rosea and alba. Triadimefon treatment increased the antioxidant potentials and the indole alkaloid ajmalicine (more in the rosea variety than the alba variety) content. Results suggest triadimefon may be a useful tool for increasing alkaloid production in medicinal plants. (7)
• Transcriptone: C roseus is known to produce a distinct spectrum of terpenoid indole alkaloids. A growth-related decrease in shoot/leaf dat and sgd transcript levels were paralleled by a decrease in shoot/leaf vindoline content. (8)
• Polyphenolics / Antioxidants: Study of non-colored phenolics in C roseus characterized three caffeoylquinic acids and 15 flavonol glycosides. The scavenging ability of different plant matrices was assessed and a concentration-dependent protective effect was observed for seeds and tissues, with petals found to be most active. (9)
• Hypotensive / Hypolipidemic: C roseus leaves extract made significant changes in each cardiovascular parameter after investigation with hypotensive and hypolipidemic effects in leaves extract treated animals. (11)
• Anthelmintic: Study of leaves extract of Cr showed potent anthelmintic activity in experimental adult earthworm Pheritima posthuma. There was concentration dependent paralysis and decrease in death time. In the study, the control drug Piperazine citrate showed more potent anthelmintic activity compared to the methanol aqueous, ethanol and ethylacetate extract. (12)
• Antidiabetic / Increased Enzymic Activity: Study of a dichlormethane:methanol extract of leaves and twigs in a STZ-induced diabetic rat model exhibited hypoglycemic activity. Decreased enzymic activities in liver of diabetic animals were significantly improved after extract treatment. Increased levels of lipid peroxidation indicative of oxidative stress were also normalized by extract treatment. (13)
• Antimicrobial / Leaves: Study of extracts of leaves showed it can be used as a prophylactic agent in regions with endemic disease but no in pandemic scale. Leaf yielded indole alkaloids and some phenolic compounds. (16) Study of ethanol leaf extract of C. roseus showed antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli and Candida albicans. (35)
• Vincristine / Anticancer Ingredient: Vincristine is a dimer-indo-akaloid from the leaves of C. roseus, used in the treatment of acute lymphocytic cell leukemia, Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin disease. Side effects limits its clinical use. Study summarizes its properties, advances in decreasing side effects, and new phamaceutical approaches. (17)
• Phytoremediation / Cadmium: Study exposed exposed C. roseus to different concentration of heavy metals to observe bioaccumulation efficiency. Total alkaloid was found decreased in the roots of CdCl2 treated plants. Analyses of leaves of treated plant showed 5-10% accumulation of cadmium, but no accumulation of lead at all. (18)
• Toxicity Study:Study evaluated the sub-acute oral toxic effects of methanol leaves extract of C. roseus on liver and kidney functions in Sprague Dawley rats. Fourteen days of oral administration of 0.1 g/kbw was shown to be safe in female SD rats without any significant damages to the liver and kidney. (19)
• Antihyperglycemic: Study of a plant leaf dichlormethane methanol extract was found to exhibit significant antihyperglycemic effect in alloxan induced diabetic rats. (20) Study evaluated the antidiabetic and hypolipidemic effect of C. roseus leaf powder in STZ induced diabetic rats. Results showed lowering of plasma glucose and plasma insulin, with significant enhancement of plasma cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL and VLDL, and normalization of atherogenic index of the diabetic rats. (31)
• Vinpocetine / Spatial Learning Effect: Vinpocetin from the periwinkle plant has been shown to increase cerebral blood flow, enhancing the flow of nutrients, oxygen, glucose, and neurotransmitter substrates. Study showed the plant decoction can affect spatial learning of rats in escape latencies. (21)
• Antioxidant / Leaves: Study evaluated the antioxidant activity of methanolic leaf extracts of Catharanthus roseus. Results showed increased activity of SOD and POX antioxidant activities. (22)
• Prevention and Management of Insulin Resistance and Oxidative Stress: Study evaluated the preventive role of C. roseus leaf powder in alleviating high-fructose diet-induced insulin resistance and oxidative stress in adult Wistar rats and suggests a potential use as adjuvant for the prevention and/or management of insulin resistance and related disorders. (23)
• Anticancer / Free Radical Scavenging: Study investigated the anticancer and antioxidant activity of C. roseus, Dendrophtoe petandra, Piper betle and Curcuma mangga aqueous extracts in T47D human ductal breast epithelial tumor cell line. Apoptotic analysis showed C. roseus induced apoptosis for 37.67%, compared to doxorubicin for 36.06. Its DPPH radical scavenging activity was 71.87%. (24)
• Hypoglycemic: Study investigated the hypoglycemic activity of extracts from flower, leaf, stem, and root in normal and alloxan-induced diabetic mice. The aqueous extracts and its alkaloid-free fraction significantly reduced blood glucose in diabetic mice, with a hypoglycemic activity comparable to tolbutamide. (25)
• Hypolipidemic / Anti-Atheroscletic Activity / Leaf Juice: Study investigated the hypolipidemic activity of leaf juice of Catharanthus roseus in guinea pigs. Results showed significant anti-atherosclerotic activity suggested by reduction in serum lipids and histological findings in the aorta, liver, and kidney. The result was attributed, possibly, to the antioxidant effect of flavonoid, and probably, vinpocetine-like compound in the leaf juice. (26)
• Cytotoxicity to Leukemic T-Cells: Study of a crude aqueous extract of C. roseus showed a differential effect on the inhibition of proliferation of Jurkat leukemic T-cells and promoting normal peripheral blood immune cells proliferation. (27)
• Antidiabetic / Flower Extract: Study evaluated an aqueous flower extract for antidiabetic and antihyperlipidemic potential on alloxan induced diabetes in male albino rats. Results showed significant reduction in blood glucose, reduction in lipid profile, and histological observation of reduced pancreatic fatty changes and inflammatory cell infiltrates. (28)
• Vincamine and Vindoline / Anti-Ulcer: Study evaluated the antiulcer activity of total extract and fractions of C. roseus. A chloroform extract fractionation and its compounds, vincamine and vindoline, significantly showed protection in the Cold Restraint Ulcer model, confirming its anti-ulcer activity. The effect could be due to its anti-secretory activity. (29)
• Phytoremediation / Cadmium: Study evaluated the bioaccumulation efficiency of Catharanthus roseus to different concentrations of heavy metals. AAS analysis of leaves of treated plants showed 5-10% accumulation of cadmium, but no accumulation of lead at all. (32)
• Elemental Composition of Leaves and Flowers: Study evaluated 13 important elements in leaves and flowers of C. roseus. Result showed the presence of Na, K, Ca, Mg, Cr, Fe, Zn, Al, Cu, Ni, Pb, Cd, and Mn in both leaves and flowers. Leaves showed high concentration of all elements except K and Zn while flowers showed higher concentration of K and Zn. (33)
• Antifertility / Leaves: Oral administration of leaf extract caused widespread testicular necrosis, hyalinization of tubules. Notable reduction in glycogen and fructose levels in reproductive tissues supported the histological findings and confirm the antifertility properties of C. roseus extract. (34)
• In Vivo and In Vitro Antitumor Activity: Study evaluated the antitumor activity of C. roseus using both in vitro and in vivo methods. Results showed in vitro antitumor activity using MCF (breast cancer) cell lines and in vivo antitumor activity using Ehrlich ascites carcinoma (EAC) tumor model. (36)
• Cytotoxicity / Human Colorectal Carcinoma Cell Line: Study evaluated C. roseus for cytotoxic activity using MTT assay against Human Colorectal Carcinoma Cell Line (HCT 116). Results showed dose dependent cytotoxic activity with the chloroform fraction showing the highest activity. Catharanthine showed the most promising dose dependent cytotoxic activity with IC50 value of 60 µg mL. (37)
Cultivated ornamental plant.