Periwinkle (Vinca major)


Periwinkle Summary

Periwinkle was most commonly used to treat cognitive decline, heart disease, and topically for bruises. The active constituent vincamide has been shown to lower heart rate, reduce muscle spasms, and has a vasodilating action on the cerebral arteries.

Due mainly to the last action, vincamide and its semi-synthetic counterpart vinpocetine have become popular additions to nootropic formulas.



  • Dysmenorrhagia
  • Metorrhagia
  • Indigestion
  • Colitis
  • Diarrhea
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding gums
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Sore throat
  • To improve blood flow to the brain


  • None noted

Herbal Actions:

  • Astringent
  • Nootropic
  • Vasodilator

What is Periwinkle Used For?

Periwinkles main use as a whole herb is for digestive complaints, mouth ulcers, menorrhagia, and metorrhagia. The concentrated extract of vincamide, or the semi-synthetic alkaloid vinpocetine is a common ingredient in nootropic formulas.


Herb Details: Periwinkle

Part Used

  • Whole plant, concentrated extract

Family Name

  • Apocynaceae


  • Southern Europe
    Northern Africa
    North America
    New Zealand

Constituents of Interest

  • Vincamine
  • Indole Alkaloids

Common Names

  • Peeriwinkle
  • Greater Periwinkle

Duration of Use

  • Avoid long-term use in therapeutic doses.

Botanical Information

Periwinkle is a member of the Apocynaceae family of plants, which includes everything from trees, to shrubs, to herbs, to succulents, to vines. There are as much as 5100 species in this family as a whole.

Periwinkle is a spreading, sub-shrubby, vine. It trails along the ground and forms clumping groups of plant material.


Habitat Ecology, & Distribution:

Periwinkle originates from Southern Europe and Northern Africa.

This herb has since spread itself all over the world and become an invasive species in Australia, The United States, and New Zealand.


Research Overview:

Still compiling research



Indole alkaloids, tannins [1].

Other, similar species, including Catharanthus roseus, another member of the Apocynaceae family and aptly named "Madagascar periwinkle," has a similar indole alkaloid content, as well as tryptamine and other active constituents.


Clinical Applications Of Periwinkle:

The most well studied, and arguably the best use of periwinkle, is for its nootropic benefit from the concentrated extract of vincamide or vinpocetine. They are sued to improve memory and cognition, and amelliorate or prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of demetia.

The indole alkaloids in the plant have also been found beneficial for cancers, however, more research is needed to understand these mechanisms.



None noted.



Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated may 2019)


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  1. Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press. (Pg. 594).