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Oleander (Nerium oleander, Thevetia peruviana)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Adelfa, adynerin, ahouai (Antilles), ahousin, Anvirzel™, Apocyanaceae (family), ashwahan, ashwamarak (Sanskrit), be-still nuts (Hawaiin), betulin, betulinic acid, boissaisi (Haitian), cardenolides, cardiac glycosides, cascaveleira (Brazilian), Cerebra thevetia (Indian), cerebrine, cerebrose, common oleander, corrigen, dehydroadynerigen, digitoxigenin, dogbane, exile, folinerin, horse poison, joro-joro (Dutch Guiana), karier, karavira, kohilphin, kokilpal (India), L-thevetose, laurier blane (Haitian), laurier bol, laurier desjundins, laurier rose, lorier bol, lucky seed (Jamaican), neriantin, neridiginoside, neridlenone A, neriifolin, neriine, nerin, nerioside, neritaloside, Nerium indicum, Nerium odorum, Nerium oleander, nerizoside, NOAG-II, odoroside H, oleanderblatter, oleandri folium, oleandrigenin, oleandrin, oleandrinogen, oleandroside, oleanolic acid, olinerin, peruvoside, pila kaner (Indian), pink oleander, rosa francesa, rosagenin, rosebay, rose laurel, rosen lorbeer, ruvoside, soland, strospeside, Thevetia nerifolia, Thevetia neriifolia, thevetin A, thevetin B, thevetine, thevetoxin, triterpenes, white oleander, yee tho (Thai), yellow oleander.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • The term "oleander" refers to two common plant species, Nerium oleander (common oleander) and Thevetia peruviana (yellow oleander), which grow in temperate climates throughout the world. Both species contain cardiac glycosides with digoxin-like effects, and both species are toxic with well-described reports of fatal ingestion. Recent evidence suggests that the use of activated charcoal may be beneficial in cases of oleander toxicity or overdose (1;2;3). Otherwise, it is often suggested to manage toxicity similarly to other cardiac glycosides such as digoxin/digitoxin.
  • Traditional uses have included treatment of swelling, leprosy, eye diseases, and skin disorders. Oleander has been used as an abortifacient, a known instrument of homicide, and gained popularity as an agent used in suicide attempts in Sri Lanka in the 1980s. The "cardiotonic" effects of oleander were investigated in the 1930s, but this use was largely abandoned due to significant gastrointestinal toxicity and a perceived narrow therapeutic to toxic window. Oleander extracts have been used in China to treat neurologic and psychiatric disorders.
  • The anti-cancer effects of oleander extracts are being investigated largely in in vitro cell line models. Anvirzel™ (Ozelle Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), an aqueous extract of Nerium oleander, is currently being studied in phase I trials for its antitumor effects. As of November 2006, the manufacturer's website (www.ozelle.com) accurately reflects the status of this investigational drug, including the lack of safety and efficacy data. However, prior to this, in March 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to Ozelle Pharmaceuticals since claims were made on the Ozelle Web site that Anvirzel™ was safe and effective based on preliminary and inconclusive data. Human clinical cancer trials have not yet been performed.
  • Due to lack of efficacy data and high toxicity potential, oleander is generally not recommended for any indication.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.