OleanderOleander is a plant that can grow throughout the world in temperature climates. It refers to two species Nerium oleander (common or white oleander) or Thevetia oleander (yellow oleander) and both the species contain ‘cardiac glycosides’ – chemicals that have similar effects to heart drug digoxin. When taken orally, both species can prove toxic and have many cases of deaths reported.
Health and oleander
- Based on unscientific researches oleander may propose possible anti-cancer effects. Oleander when used for a long period may have positive effects in patients with leiomyosarcoma, breast or prostate cancer and Ewing’s sarcoma. However before recommending oleander in these conditions more scientific researches are needed.
- Both species of oleander are useful in congestive heart failure treatment as they contain heart-active ‘cardiac glycoside’ chemicals.
But due to poorly designed studies it is not recommended in this condition.
- Traditionally based on scientific theories oleander is used for alcoholism, abnormal menstruation, anorexia, anti-inflammatory, anti-fertility, anti-parasitic, asthma, cachexia (wasting from some disease/weight loss), bacterial infections, corns, cardiac abnormalities, epilepsy, diuretic, indigestion, hemorrhoids, eye diseases, leprosy, insecticide, malaria, pregnancy termination, menstrual stimulant, psychiatric disorders, rat poison, ringworms, snake bites, sinus problems, skin diseases, swelling, vomiting, warts and weight gain.
Side effects of oleander
Oleander may also interact with certain drugs or herbal medication, thus it is advisable to take oleander under recommended amounts under the supervision and guidance of a health care professional.
- Rash may be caused by contact with the sap of oleander leaves.
- Both the species of oleander contains ‘cardiac glycosides’ – chemicals that have similar effects to heart drug digoxin that may cause the heart to beat abnormally, rapidly, or stop beating.
- Common oleander is used as a toxic to mammals including humans and used as a rat poison, fish poison and insecticide. It is toxic to such an extent that it may cause the death of a child if he eats even one single leaf of oleander.
- Ingestion of leaves, bark or flowers may cause nausea, vomiting, pain, stomach cramps, drowsiness, fatigue, unsteadiness, abnormal heart rhythms, bloody diarrhea, liver or kidney damage, seizure or unconsciousness. Within a day death may occur and many cases of toxicity and death are reported for decades in India, Australia, United States and Sri Lanka.
- Oleander should be used cautiously in patients with low potassium levels in the body and those on diuretics or potassium lowering medications.
- It is fatal to consume over eight seeds of yellow oleander. Fruits are also considered toxic for human consumption.
- Oleander is not recommended in pregnancy, lactation and in children.