Vinca minor or lesser periwinkle is an evergreen perennial shrub that grows mainly in the northern hemisphere. This invasive plant is found growing in woods and hedgerows. In France, it is sometimes called ‘Virginflower’ due to its madonna blue coloured flowers. Not to be confused with Vinca major or greater periwinkle, which has some but not all of its medicinal properties. European herbalists have used this herb for headaches, vertigo, and poor memory since medieval times. The flower, roots and leaves are used in herbal medicine.

Medicinal Properties of Lesser Periwinkle

Vinca minor / lesser periwinkle contains high levels of an alkaloid known as vincamine, especially in the leaves. This compound has vasodilating (dilates blood vessels) and memory enhancing properties. This herb also has high levels of tannins, which account for its astringent, toning actions on blood vessels and its ability to slow down or stop bleeding.

Traditionally this herb is said to be a circulatory stimulant and to have bitter properties that support digestion.

Lesser Periwinkle Herbal Remedies

Herbalists recommend Vinca minor / lesser periwinkle for the following disorders:

Alzheimer’s disease / Dementia
Bleeding gums
Bleeding piles
Diarrhoea
Dizziness
Gastric catarrh
Headaches
Heavy menstruation
Impaired memory
Indigestion and flatulence
Loss of hearing
Meniere’s disease
Tendency to nosebleeds / piles
Tinnitus

Other Lesser Periwinkle Information

Vinca minor / lesser periwinkle is an alternative to the herb Gingko biloba for use as a circulatory stimulant, but without the usage restrictions with blood thinning medicines. This is because it does not have direct blood thinning properties like ginkgo, probably due to its high tannin content.
The root of this plant has been used for lowering blood pressure for people with hypertension.
Vinca minor / lesser periwinkle needs to be taken for several months in order to get the maximum benefits.Vinca minor / lesser periwinkle is normally available as a tincture and can be taken 2-3 times daily.
A semi-synthetic compound known as vinpocetine, which is closely related to vincamine, has been used in many studies and has shown to be useful for: dementia, strokes, glaucoma, age-related hearing problems, poor memory and tinnitus.

Side Effects of Lesser Periwinkle

Generally, there are no side effects from Vinca minor / lesser periwinkle and it can be taken quite safely for long periods.

Vinca minor / lesser periwinkle should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation, and should not be given to children under 12, unless otherwise directed by a qualified herbalist.

Vinca minor / lesser periwinkle should be avoided by people that have a known brain tumour.

When this article was written there were no other well-known side effects, drug interactions and contra-indications from using Vinca minor / lesser periwinkle