Sadabahar, better known as Madagascar Periwinkle, Rose Periwinkle, or Vinca is a common ornamental plant found in gardens, fields, and roadsides. But this delicate plant, with its star-like purplish/pink and milky white flowers, is more than just a pretty face! Its roots, leaves, and flowers have been used in Ayurveda, home remedies, and other traditional systems since 2800 BCE. The benefits of Madagascar Periwinkle are numerous.
Sadabahar’s traditional uses are vast and include supporting glucose metabolism, vision, wound healing, respiratory health, and more. In Ayurvedic systems, it’s also been used as a tonic for memory and brain function, to promote calmness, support sleep, cleanse the blood, as a mouthwash, for toothache, to support bacterial and fungal balance, for insect bites and stings, for healthy metabolism and blood sugar, healthy menstruation, skin health, and for occasional constipation.
Madagascar Periwinkle’s modern claim to fame is its supportive effects on glucose metabolism, which has been verified by science. Researchers have found its beneficial effects are due to the alkaloid compounds (of which it has over 400) and polyphenols found in the leaves and flowers, which have been shown to promote normal insulin secretion by supporting the liver’s role in glucose utilization.
In an Ayurvedic approach, Sadabahar is used to rebalance aggravated Kapha energy, which can disrupt digestive function and contribute to imbalances in metabolic health.
2. Helps Maintain Cognitive Function
These days, everyone is looking for a little help maintaining brain health. As it turns out this may not be such a modern problem, as Ayurveda has used Sadabahar to nourish the brain for years.
According to studies, it’s the plant’s antioxidants that help maintain cognitive health by protecting the brain from free radical damage, which can cause unwanted inflammatory response. It’s also been shown effective in promoting normal acetylcholine levels, your body’s main neurotransmitter, which plays a key role in your central and peripheral nervous systems, attention, focus, memory, and learning.
3. Supports your Natural Wound Healing Process
One of Madagascar Periwinkle’s/Sabadahar’s popular folk or “home remedy” uses is as a wound-healing aid. People would pick the leaves from their gardens and apply the juice directly to cuts, scrapes, mouth sores, insect bites and stings, or even blemishes to help support the natural healing and recovery process.
Scientists have put this use to the test, and found it is truly effective at speeding the healing process. It is believed that the alkaloids assist in this process by supporting normal blood clotting, tissue contraction, and inflammation.
4. Helps Maintain Heart and Circulatory Health
Research has shown that Madagascar Periwinkle provides numerous benefits to the heart, including supporting normal cholesterol and blood pressure levels. In Ayurveda, and other systems of healing, it is believed that its supportive effects on blood sugar and normal inflammatory response have downstream benefits to the heart and cardiovascular system. Studies have shown its the combination of antioxidant flavonoids and vinpocetine like compounds present in leaf juice, that are likely responsible for much of these benefits. The alkaloid, reserpine, also has shown a positive effect on supporting normal blood pressure.
5. Supports a Healthy Stress Response
Stress is not something we can avoid, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take steps to help manage it. Plants like Sadabahar, Ashwagandha, Tulsi and others have been prized in Ayurveda for their calming effects.
In Ayurveda, stress is viewed as an imbalance of all three doshas. Thus, addressing run-away-stress must focus on rebalancing doshas, while supporting the nervous system, brain, circulatory system, and digestion. Sadabahar is often used in combination with adaptogenic herbs, like Ashwagandha, and lifestyle practices like yoga, deep breathing, and diet to help rebalance the doshas and support the organs and systems related to our stress response. It has a lovely calming effect that can be beneficial when you just can’t seem to switch out of “go mode”.
6. Soothes Minor Throat Irritation
Madagascar Periwinkle has been used in many traditional systems as a throat soothing gargle. It’s also recommended in Traditional Chinese Systems to maintain upper respiratory health.
Its action is likely due to its inflammation-supportive effects, its ability to help maintain healthy bacterial and fungal balance, and to aid the movement of fluids through the respiratory tract.
Who Can Benefit from Sadabahar?
Adults interested in maintaining metabolic health, which relates to blood sugar balance, heart health, and normal weight may benefit from taking Sadabahar. It’s also an excellent remedy to keep on hand for stressful situations and when minor throat irritation may strike.
For those interested in trying it topically on insect bites, stings, or minor cuts and scrapes, simply crush the leaf and stems to release their juices and rub directly on the affected area. If you can’t get fresh Madagascar Periwinkle (because it is considered an invasive species in some areas), you can make a poultice from the dried herb by adding a little water, and apply that directly.
Finally, anyone who suffers from occasional breakouts can benefit from applying the juice or a poultice/tea to pimples.
How to use Madagascar Periwinkle safely
For internal use, look for professionally-crafted supplements made from certified organic, regeneratively-grown Sadabahar/Madagascar Periwinkle. Do not ingest wild-growing Periwinkle as there’s no guarantee you’ve identified the correct plant, or that it’s not been tainted by pollution, pesticides, herbicides, etc. Common plants like this often thrive in neglected heavily polluted areas like roadsides and wastelands, so you’re better safe than sorry! Professional supplement manufacturers will do identity testing to verify the correct plant/genus is used and that it does not contain harmful contaminants.
Learn more about herbs like Ivy Gourd and Great Bougainvillea, which also provide robust support for blood sugar metabolism — especially when all combined in one supplement.