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The Madagascar periwinkle was investigated by Western scientists during the 1950s when its use as a folk remedy drew attention. A Madagascan shaman used the plant to treat tumours and cancer; Hawaiians boiled it to make a poultice to arrest bleeding; Europeans and Jamaicans infused it as a tea to relieve the symptoms of diabetes. The plant was found to contain over 70 alkaloids including those which reduce blood sugar, stop bleeding, and are toxic to cancer cells.