Does this look familiar to you?
Whenever I see it, I think "pretty." Then I think, "chemotherapy."
There are many active compounds in the Vinca species. In the Catharanthus roseus species, the chemicals vincristine and vinblastine have been extracted and are commonly used to treat leukemia and lymphomas today.
Catharanthus roseus can be pink, white, or a combination
In traditional Chinese medicine, it has been used to treat diabetes, Hodgkins disease (a type of lymphoma), and malaria.
If the plant is ingested orally, it is VERY dangerous. It can be hallucinogenic, and may cause kidney and nerve damage.
Vincristine and vinblastine work by inhibiting the rapid division of cancer cells. Jargon alert!-->Specifically, it polymerizes microtubules needed to allow mitosis to occur.<--Jargon alert over! Unfortunately, it also effects other cells that divide rapidly in healthy human tissues, such as the cells of hair follicles. Hence, many patients on these medication will have chemo-induced hair loss.
Other side effects include neuropathy (numbness and tingling of the limbs), low sodium levels, and constipation, among others.
Vinca is so pretty and so fascinating, isn't it? Can you take a moment and imagine how you could use Vinca in a story?