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Periwinkle (Vinca Minor)

Periwinkle (Vinca Minor) is another of those gorgeous herbs – so often forgotten nowadays. It happily rambles along the forest floor under the shade of trees and shrubs, where its flowers throw the most beautiful shades of violet for our visual delectation.

Violet is the colour of the crown chakra, and it is indeed the head and the nervous system which is so positively affected by Periwinkle. In folk lore, it is known for preserving memory and mental function.

Vinca falls into the class of herbal medicines known as nootropics. There are herbs which enhance the memory and cognition, and Vinca does this by literally opening the brain. The plant contains an alkaloid called Vincamine, which dilates the blood vessels in our brain, thus enhancing cerebral blood flow.

Another Vinca alkaloid known as Vinpocetine, is of particular interest for scientists in relation to strokes where the brain damage is caused by oxygen deprivation. This constituent enhances blood flow and has neuroprotective effects on the brain.

In the past, Periwinkle was also used in love potions! If you notice how the slim stems entangle themselves together – you get the idea. The old love spell to keep a husband and wife happy in bed entailed crushing periwinkle with extremely unfortunate earthworms (presumably for their writhing togetherness) and feeding it to the happy couple, in the hope of binding their love.

The binding was not only for love. The old-fashioned term for astringency is a “binding agent”, and this herb is richly astringent. It tightens and restores tone to inflamed mucous membranes, and in doing so, restricts the flow of excessive fluid. Thus, traditionally it is used to dry up breast milk, stop bleeding from the nose, restrict heavy menstrual flow, and to heal bleeding ulcers.