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Category: Medicines - plant based



Introduction and description


Nerium oleander is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the dogbane family Apocynaceae. It is the only species currently classified in the genus Nerium. It is most commonly known as oleander.

It is so widely cultivated that no precise region of origin has been identified, though southwest Asia has been suggested.  According to Wikipedia “Oleander is one of the most poisonous of commonly grown garden plants”, which only goes to show that even the most apparently dangerous of plants has medicinal secrets tucked away in its arsenal of chemicals.



Oleander grows to 2–6 m (6.6–19.7 ft) tall, with erect stems that splay outward as they mature; first-year stems have a glaucous bloom, while mature stems have a greyish bark.

The leaves are in pairs or whorls of three, thick and leathery, dark-green, narrow lanceolate, 5–21 cm (2.0–8.3 in) long and 1–3.5 cm (0.39–1.38 in) broad, and with an entire margin.

The flowers grow in clusters at the end of each branch; they are white, pink to red, 2.5–5 cm (0.98–1.97 in) diameter, with a deeply 5-lobed fringed corolla round the central corolla tube. They are often, but not always, sweet-scented.

The fruit is a long narrow capsule 5–23 cm (2.0–9.1 in) long, which splits open at maturity to release numerous downy seeds.



N. oleander is either native or naturalized to a broad area from Mauritania, Morocco, and Portugal eastward through the Mediterranean region and the Sahara (where it is only found sporadically), to the Arabian peninsula, southern Asia, and as far East as Yunnan in southern parts of China.

It typically occurs around dry stream beds.

Nerium oleander is planted in many subtropical and tropical areas of the world. On the East Coast of the US, it grows as far north as Washington DC, while in California and Texas it is naturalized.  In Sri Lanka this plant is called Kaneru කණේරු, grown as an ornamental in gardens.



Oleander grows well in warm subtropical regions where it is extensively used as an ornamental plant in landscapes, in parks, and along roadsides. It is drought-tolerant and will tolerate occasional light frost down to −10 °C (14 °F).

It is commonly used in landscaping freeway medians in California, Texas, and other mild-winter states in the Continental United States because it is upright in habit and easily maintained. Its toxicity renders it deer-resistant.

It is tolerant of poor soils and drought.

Oleander can also be grown in cooler climates in greenhouses and conservatories, or as indoor plants that can be kept outside in the summer. Oleander flowers are showy and fragrant and are grown for these reasons.

Over 400 cultivars have been named, with several additional flower colours not found in wild plants having been selected, including red, purple, pink, and orange; white and a variety of pinks are the most common. Many cultivars also have double flowers. Young plants grow best in spaces where they do not have to compete with other plants for nutrients. Thailand has produced miniature sized Nerium plants to use in ornamental gardening.



Oleander has historically been considered a poisonous plant because some of its compounds may exhibit toxicity, especially to animals, when consumed in large amounts.   

Given that none of its constituent parts appear edible, there has to be another reason why anyone would be poisoned by oleander and here we have the answer…..

very few toxic events in humans have been reported. According to the Toxic Exposure Surveillance System, in 2002, 847 human exposures to oleander were reported to poison centers in the United States.  Despite this exposure level, from 1985 through 2005, only three deaths were reported.
One cited death was apparently due to the ingestion of oleander leaves by a diabetic man.  His blood indicated a total blood concentration of cardiac glycosides of about 20 μg/l, which is well above the reported fatal level.
Another study reported on the death of a woman who self-administered "an undefined oleander extract" both orally and rectally and her oleandrin tissue levels were 10 to 39 μg/g, which were in the high range of reported levels at autopsy.
And finally, one study reported the death of a woman who ingested oleander 'tea'. Few other details were provided.


Which rather begs the question who is selling these extracts and teas? 

And under what pretext or misinformation. 

Wicked people all.

Wikipedia continues ……………..

In contrast to consumption of these undefined oleander-derived materials, no toxicity or deaths were reported from topical administration or contact with N. Oleander….

On the other hand, for animals and our fellow creatures……

Drying of plant materials does not eliminate the toxins. It is also hazardous for animals such as sheep, horses, cattle, and other grazing animals, with as little as 100 g being enough to kill an adult horse. Plant clippings are especially dangerous to horses, as they are sweet. In July 2009, several horses were poisoned in this manner from the leaves of the plant.

Medicinal uses

 Oleander is a medicinally very important plant, but as the science behind this and the exact details are so key to understanding, no more detail will be given here - you will need to look at the observations below.

Related observations