Oleander

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What other names is Oleander known by?

Adelfa, Baladre, Cascabela thevetia, Cerbera thevetia, Common Oleander, Exile Tree, Huang Hua Jia, Jia Zhu Tao, Kaner, Karvir, Karvira, Laurel Rosa, Laurier-Rose, Laurier Rose, Laurose, Nérier à Feuilles de Laurier, Nérion, Nerium indicum, Nerium Oleander, Nerium odorum, Oleanderblatter, Oléandre, Oleandri Folium, Rose Bay, Rose Laurel, Sweet Scented Oleander, Thevetia neriifolia, Thevetia peruviana, Yellow Oleander.

What is Oleander?

Oleander is a plant. Its use as a poison is well known. In fact, oleander is reportedly a favorite suicide agent in Sri Lanka, where oleander poisonings exceed 150 per 100,000 each year. That's a high number. Approximately 10% of these ingestions are fatal.

Despite the danger, oleander seeds and leaves are used to make medicine. Oleander is used for heart conditions, asthma, epilepsy, cancer, painful menstrual periods, leprosy, malaria, ringworm, indigestion, and venereal disease; and to cause abortions.

A fixed combination of oleander leaf powdered extract, pheasant's eye fluid extract, lily-of-the-valley fluid extract, and squill powdered extract has been used for treating mild heart failure.

Oleander is sometimes applied to the skin to treat skin problems and warts.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Heart problems.
  • Asthma.
  • Seizures.
  • Cancer.
  • Menstrual pain.
  • As a poison.
  • Skin problems, when applied to the skin.
  • Warts, when applied to the skin.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of oleander for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Oleander work?

Oleander contains chemicals called glycosides, which can affect the heart. These chemicals can slow the heart rate down.

Are there safety concerns?

Injecting a specific oleander product (Anvirzel) into the muscle is POSSIBLY SAFE when administered by a healthcare professional.

Oleander is LIKELY UNSAFE for anyone to take by mouth. It can cause a burning sensation in the mouth, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, headache, stomach pain, serious heart problems, and many other side effects. Taking the oleander leaf, oleander leaf tea, or oleander seeds has led to deadly poisonings.

There isn't enough information to know whether or not it is safe to apply oleander to the skin. It's best not to do this.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

It's LIKELY UNSAFE for anyone to take oleander by mouth. But oleander is especially dangerous for people with the following conditions:

Children: Oleander is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in children. Taking the oleander leaf, oleander leaf tea, or oleander seeds has led to deadly poisonings.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking oleander by mouth is LIKELY UNSAFE as it might cause an abortion or cause birth defects. There isn't enough information to know whether or not it is safe for pregnant or breast-feeding women to apply oleander to the skin. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Too little potassium or too much calcium (electrolyte imbalance): Oleander affects the heart. An electrolyte imbalance also affects the heart. It's especially dangerous to use oleander if you have an electrolyte imbalance.

Heart disease: Don't use oleander to treat heart disease without the supervision of a healthcare professional. It's too dangerous to self-medicate.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Antibiotics (Macrolide antibiotics)
Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.

Oleander can affect the heart. Some antibiotics might increase how much oleander the body absorbs. Increasing how much oleander the body absorbs might increase the effects and side effects of oleander.

Some antibiotics called macrolide antibiotics include erythromycin, azithromycin, and clarithromycin.



Antibiotics (Tetracycline antibiotics)
Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.

Taking some antibiotics called tetracycline antibiotics along with oleander might increase the chance of side effects from oleander.

Some tetracycline antibiotics include demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin), and tetracycline (Achromycin).



Digoxin (Lanoxin)
Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.

Digoxin (Lanoxin) helps the heart beat more strongly. Oleander also seems to affect the heart. Taking oleander along with digoxin can increase the effects of digoxin and increase the risk of side effects. Do not take oleander if you are taking digoxin (Lanoxin) without talking to your health care professional.



Quinine
Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.

Oleander can affect the heart. Quinine can also affect the heart. Taking quinine along with oleander might cause serious heart problems.



Stimulant laxatives
Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.

Oleander can affect the heart. The heart uses potassium. Laxatives called stimulant laxatives can decrease potassium levels in the body. Low potassium levels can increase the chance of side effects from taking oleander.

Some stimulant laxatives include bisacodyl (Correctol, Dulcolax), cascara, castor oil (Purge), senna (Senokot), and others.



Water pills (Diuretic drugs)
Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.

Oleander might affect the heart. "Water pills" can decrease potassium in the body. Low potassium levels can also affect the heart and increase the risk of side effects from oleander.

Some "water pills" that can deplete potassium include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HydroDiuril, Microzide), and others.



Calcium supplements
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Oleander can stimulate the heartbeat. Calcium might also affect the heart. Taking oleander along with calcium might cause the heart to be too stimulated. Do not take oleander along with calcium supplements.

Dosing considerations for Oleander.

The appropriate dose of oleander depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for oleander. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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