Health Care Professional Information
Convolvulis arvensis, commonly known as field bindweed, is a plant in the morning glory family. It is a perennial vine with white to pink flowers that can be found in temperate regions. C. arvensis is considered a noxious weed in US farmlands due to its invasive nature but has historical use as a medicinal plant in Europe for hypertension and as a laxative (1), and in traditional Chinese medicine for relief of itching, pain, and toothache (2). The leaf extract is marketed as a dietary supplement to support vascular health by restricting new blood vessel growth. However, related products are also promoted as a natural cancer treatment.
Recent in vitro and animal studies show that the water extracts from the plant’s aerial parts, rich in proteoglycans, have anti-angiogenic and immune-stimulating effects (3) (4) (5) (6). Other studies found that these constituents also increased vasodilation and circulatory function, and lowered blood pressure in animals (7).
Alkaloids from raw field bindweed are toxic to animals (8) (9) but dietary supplements are alkaloid-free.
Due to its ability to inhibit new blood vessel growth, C. arvensis should not be used before and after surgery. Infants, children, adolescents, and pregnant women should also avoid this product.
- Alkaloids: calystegins (polyhydroxy-nortropane alkaloids) A3, B1, B2(10), cuscohygrine, hygrine, tropine, pseudotropine, tropinone (9)
- Anthraquinone derivatives (11)
- Coumarins: beta methylesculetin, esculetin, scopoletin-7-o-glucoside (3)
- Delta aminolevulinic acid (7)
- Pentacyclic triterpine: alpha amyrin (3)
- Sterols: campesterol, stigmasterol, beta sitosterol (3)
Mechanism of Action
Water extract from the aerial parts of C. arvensis is thought to be rich in proteoglycans. It has immunostimulatory effects in animals by increasing total leukocyte and lymphocyte counts as well as increasing serum lysosome activity (4). The lipophilic glycoside constituents have cytotoxic effects in human tumor cell lines (5). High molecular weight extract from C. arvensis inhibits tumor growth in a dose-dependent manner probably due to its ability to inhibit growth of blood vessels (8) .
Animal studies show that the tropane alkaloids from C. arvensis have anti-muscarinic activity that slows gastrointestinal motility. This may increase the absorption of toxins leading to intestinal fibrosis gastritis and/or hepatitis (8).
C. arvensis leaf extract inhibits vascular development and may interfere with wound healing.
Patients undergoing surgery, infants, and pregnant women should avoid this product.
Reported: In animals, weight loss and intestinal pain were reported after consuming large amounts of bindweed, probably due to the tropane alkaloid contents (8).
Herb Lab Interactions
Leaf extracts of C. arvensis have anti-angiogenic activities and may increase the risk of adverse effects when used with other anti-angiogenic agents, such as bevacizumab.
Dosage (Inside MSKCC Only)
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- Rexhepi B, Mustafa B, Hajdari A, et al. Traditional medicinal plant knowledge among Albanians, Macedonians and Gorani in the Sharr Mountains (Republic of Macedonia). Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. 2013:1-26.
- Zhou J GX, Xinjian Y. Isolated Compounds T-Z, References, Tcm Plants and Congeners. Encyclopedia of Traditional Chinese Medicines: Molecular Structures, Pharmacological Activities, Natural Sources and Applications. Vol 5: Springer; 2011:410.
- Manbir K, Kalia AN. Convolvulus arvensis - a useful weed. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2012;4(1):38-40.
- Al-Bowait ME, Albokhadaim IF, Homeida AM. Immunostimulant effects of binweed (Convolvulus arvensis) extract in rabbits. Research Journal of Pharmacology. 2010;4(2):51-54.
- Sadeghi-aliabadi H; Ghasemi N; Kohi M. Cytotoxic Effects of Convolvulus arvensis extracts on human cancerous cell line. Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences. Mar 2008;3(1)(April 2008):31-34.
- Meng XL, Riordan NH, Casciari JJ, et al. Effects of a high molecular mass Convolvulus arvensis extract on tumor growth and angiogenesis. Puerto Rico health sciences journal. Dec 2002;21(4):323-328.
- Sowemimo BO, Farnsworth NR. Phytochemical investigation of Convolvulus arvensis (Convolvulaceae). Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 1973;62(4):678-679.
- Todd FG, Stermitz FR, Schultheis P, et al. Tropane alkaloids and toxicity of Convolvulus arvensis. Phytochemistry. May 1995;39(2):301-303.
- Schultheiss PC, Knight AP, Traub-Dargatz JL, et al. Toxicity of field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) to mice. Veterinary and human toxicology. Oct 1995;37(5):452-454.
- Said AM, Numan IT, Hamad MN. Study of the cytotoxic and genotoxic effects for fractioniated extracts of Convolulus arvensis on bone marrow in mice. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2013;5(SUPPL. 2):303-305.
- Sher Z, Ibrar M, Hameed I. Setting pharmacognostic standards for Convolvulus arvensis Linn. Journal of Medicinal Plant Research. 2011;5(23):5540-5544.
How It Works
Bottom Line: Leaf extract of field bindweed (Convolvulis arvensis) may stop the growth of new blood vessels. But there’s not enough evidence to show it is a safe and effective cancer treatment in humans.
Field bindweed is an invasive weed found in many parts of the world. It has been used in traditional medicine but extracts from the leaves are sold as dietary supplement. These extracts contain proteoglycans that were shown to stimulate the immune system and stop the growth of new blood vessels in lab studies. They also reduced the size of tumors in the mice. No clinical trials in humans have been done to find out field bindweed extracts’ benefits and adverse effects. Since these extracts affect growth of new blood vessels, they may interfere with would healing,
- To stop blood-vessel growth and shrink tumors
Laboratory studies in mice and chicken eggs suggest that extracts of bindweed flowers and leaves can stop blood-vessel growth. In mice, this caused tumors to stop growing. This effect has not been tested in humans.
- To stimulate the immune system
One small study in rabbits suggests that field bindweed extract stimulates some cells of their immune systems, and another shows some effect on white blood cell growth. This has not been tested in humans.
- To lower high blood pressure
Field bindweed has been used in traditional medicine to lower high blood pressure.
- As a laxative
Field bindweed has been used in traditional medicine as a laxative. No scientific evidence supports this use.
Field bindweed (C. arvensis) extracts have not been tested in humans as a cancer treatment. They are not substitutes for prescription anti-cancer drugs.
Do Not Take If
- You use drugs that inhibit blood vessel growth, such as bevacizumab (Field bindweed extract may increase the risk of adverse effects)
- You are taking warfarin (Coumadin) or other blood thinners (Field bindweed might increase the risk of bleeding)
- You are pregnant, or you are a child or adolescent (Field bindweed extracts may inhibit blood-vessel growth, which is needed for fetal and child development)
- You have a wound or injury that is healing (Field bindweed extracts may interfere with wound healing)
Consumption of large quantities of raw field bindweed caused side effects of the digestive system in animals.
Last updated: July 11, 2013