The Health Risks & Benefits of the Oleander Plant

Oleander Plant

Warning: Oleander extract is made from a highly-lethal, poisonous plant. The following post is meant to offer exciting insight into emerging scientific evidence of its use as a natural remedy. Taking this extract without the guidance of an expert can lead to serious health complications, including death.

Recently I have had alot of questions regarding the benefits and risks of taking Oleander Extract for cancer as well as the bird or swine flu and other conditions. I think that this plant has amazing properties and is definitely worth writing a post about.

I do, however, recommend anyone wanting to take this herb do their own research. Sometimes the most poisonous plants give us the most rapid health benefits but must be used with extreme caution.

The Origins of Oleander

Known in ancient texts as “the desert rose,” historical references show that 15th century B.C. Mesopotamians trusted in the healing benefits of oleander extracts. From a remedy for hangovers to a herb studied for cancer, the Babylonians, Romans, Arabs and ancient Greeks alike used this herbal extract for a variety of health concerns.

Oleander, also known as laurier rose, dogbane and rosebay, is native to the Western Himalayas. It is an incredibly hardy, adaptable plant which grows thick and green in mountainous climates.

Quickly growing, this plant bears clusters of lovely pinkish-white and red flowers in the spring time. Traditionally, oleander leaf has been used to treat a number of health conditions. If you live in the southern United States, chances are you or your neighbors may have some growing in the yard.

Modern studies show that while no single chemical component of the extract can be stated as the sole source of its health benefits, the powerful activity of the plant comes from a highly complex amalgamation of components held within the combined form of the extract. These components work synergistically to boost and stimulate the human immune system, offering support for a wide variety of health concerns.

List of Possible Health Benefits of Oleander

Oleander also works as a low-level toxicant to boost immune function in individuals in the following ways:

  • Contains tremendous immune boosting action
  • Inhibits angiogenesis
  • Inhibits NF-kB factor in cancer cells
  • Causes apoptosis in cancerous cells (natural cell death)
  • Causes and increased rates of autophagic cancer cell death when tested on pancreatic cancer

Today, scientists are looking into the possible health benefits of heavily diluted oleander:

  • Helping with muscle cramps
  • Natural support for asthma, epilepsy and paralysis
  • Help for skin conditions such as eczema
  • Powerful all natural organic insecticide
  • Usefulness in aiding heart conditions
  • Natural support for healthy blood sugar levels
  • Possible support for the HIV virus
  • Usefulness in increasing healing times for wounds, when crushed and applied topically
  • Powerful immune-system stimulator
  • Promoting normal menstrual cycles
  • Aiding the body in the fight against arthritis, psoriasis & hepatitis C

Oleander Extract: Did You Know?

The government of South Africa is currently endorsing the use of oleander extract as a treatment for HIV. Similarly, many universities and institutions in the country are following suit, using the extract for the support of cancer patients [1].

Studies by Doctor Ozel, head of the surgical department at Mugla State Hospital of Turkey, found that oleander extract was useful in treating human cancer patients who had been considered terminal cases by conventional medical therapy [2].

Oleander: Side Effects & Contraindications

oleander flower

While oleander may possess many healing properties, much like many powerful botanical remedies, this plant can also be deadly when taken or prepared incorrectly. This plant should never be eaten raw, as its raw extract form is highly toxic. One raw leaf has enough poison in it to kill a small child, as well as any pet [3].

There have been many cases of poisoning and death due to intake of oleander, oleander leaf tea, and its extracts. Even eating honey made from the nectar of the plant can produce dangerous effects [4].

Due to this fact, supplemental use of this plant should ONLY be done under the guidance of a trained herbalist or doctor, under careful observation and controlled conditions. Similarly, due to the highly toxic nature of the plant, this botanical should only be taken in cases of disease support, and is NOT recommended as a daily supportive health supplement.

If anyone is interested I would only recommend using the Sutherlandia OPC brand. Studies show that Dr. Ozel’s oleander-based remedy was over six times as potent as the most powerful, commercially sold immune-stimulants.

Please remember, that when it comes to Oleander, do the proper research and check with a trained herbalist or doctor prior to ingesting any supplements with Oleander extract in it.

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Tony Isaacs. History of the Oleander Plant. Disabled World. 2007 November 28.
  2. Tony Isaacs. An Amazing Discovery in Turkey-Part1 of the Oleander Series. Natural News. 2008 April 6.
  3. Davies MK, Mayne AJ. Oleander poisoning. Arch Dis Child. 2001 Jan;84(1):9.
  4. Jacob L. Heller MD MHA,Virginia Mason, David Zieve, MD MHA. Oleander Poisoning. The New York Times Health Guide. 2009 October 13.

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  • http://www.tbyil.com Tony Isaacs

    Good and informative article. I think you had some good sources (smile). I would differ with your message in only one respect – properly made oleander supplements and extracts (such as the Sutherlandia OPC, which comes in both a liquid extract and capsule version) can be taken safely on a regular basis to keep the immune system boosted and to ward against cancer, hep-c, flu and many other conditions. I know hundreds of people who do just that, including myself.

    Thus far, there have been no negative side effects reported, though there sometimes is an initial adjustment period that might involve a bit of nausea, loose stools and mild fever and people who are on prescription blood thinners or have heart conditions should first consult with a qualified naturopathic doctor.

    Some interesting positive side effects have been reported, including benefits for diabetes, arthritis, increased male libido, and thicker and faster hair and nail growth.

    When oleander extract is prepared it is carefully boiled and filtered according to exact instructions, whether it is the patented medicine Anvirzel from Honduras, the supplements such as the S/OPC or the home remedy version (of course, no one should attempt to make their own without knowing what they are doing).

    The process of making oleander removes essentially all of the toxins and only leaves a tiny amount of the cardiac glycosides – foremost of which is oleandrin. Oleandrin does cross assay with digitalis/digoxin, but a normal dose of oleander only contains 1/4oth the amount of cardiac glycosides found in a dose of digitalis.

    The cardiac glycosides are non-polar compounds, which means that they are not water soluable – thus the aqueous preparation only gets a tiny amount in the final extract, much as someone might get a tiny amount of broth from boiling a meat bone.

    For more information about oleander, including trials, case reports, history and links to PubMed studies, see my Oleander Series of articles at

    http://www.tbyil.com/articles.htm

    All the best,

    Tony Isaacs
    author of “Cancer’s Natural Enemy”
    host of the 1400 member Yahoo Health Group “oleandersoup”

  • TarynK

    Thanks for providing great information, Tony. Interesting to know that oleander is not as dangerous as we are made to think and that it can have tremendous healing abilities. I like the fact that it can be made at home, very cheaply, by those who are willing to follow directions. I also notice that the American Cancer Society is linked to in the blog article so I am glad that you provided us with all your factual research.

    TK

  • Dale V Miller

    please provide for me a way to get this product. I tried to send an email by
    clicking the address for marc while on line
    but it did not go thru. I really need this product.

    Thank you ever so much for your expedition of this request

    Dale

  • Suzanne

    I hope you have already gotten a response. If not, just go to the Utopia Silver web site (see below for a link).
    Oleander has been used for medical purposes for more than 2000 years. In biblical times it was known as the �desert rose�. In Turkey, it has been used as a folk remedy for centuries.

    http://www.utopiasilver.com/products/supplements/roselaurelopc.htm – 27.8kb

  • Nedra

    I have been told that I have a low WBC. I am not sure if this is inherently my number since the same comment was made abour 10 years, ago. I don’t want to become a human stick pen for the lab if that is the case. I would like your recommendation of a natural source through supplementation since I do eat properly. In reading your article found my first choice of Oleander Extract is not a good alternative and would greatly appreciate another before having more blood work done.
    Sincere thanks.
    Nedra

  • Iggy

    Please I need help.

    I have a few oleander plants along the driveway and 2 of my girls was taking a flower or two to bring inside the house; one of my neighbors saw it and came over to tell me that this was the most poisonous plant in Florida, that my daughters could die if they put them in their mouth or even get serious injury by touching the skin.

    He also said not to burn them as the smoke from it could be lethal.

    He freak me out…!!!

    How much of this is true and how much ignorance or misinformation?!?!

    Please help me someone… =)

  • Dr. Edward Group

    Hi Iggy,

    There may be some concern with toxicity from the oleander plant – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nerium#Toxicity

    I am not an expert on the subject though. I would encourage you to contact someone at your local greenhouse or nursery who is sure to be very familiar with the varieties in your area and will undoubtedly know of health risks to be cautious of.

  • Deanna

    I have recently been introduced to a skin care product with nerium oleander. Aloe extract mixed w the oleander extract being the second ingredient after water. The company claims an amazing improvement of wrinkles on the face. (a money back guarantee if not satisfied). From the research ive done there are some skin condition benefits but nothing I can find directly related to wrinkles. Could this be true??? As an esthetician I am very interested in this. Can you help me?

  • Cindy

    If you are interested in Oleander; go to http://www.skinsohealthy.nerium.com this is NEriumAD night cream, a dermal form of oleander extract mixed with aloe and other ingredients. This cream was discovered during cancer research. Love it and what it has done for my skin…Cindy

  • Chang

    Great article!
    Thank you

  • sandra

    i was cutting my oleander and i had rash all over. could this be from plant

  • Carla Taylor

    Cindy, I used NeriumAD and I found I got quick results but they did not last long.
    Then I read up on it more because I was discourage and thought I was
    doing something wrong. Here is what I found. Not only does it smell
    horrible it is a extract from the oleander which we all have read is
    very positioning it
    is expensive …one bottle application… smells bad…and has a lot of
    collagen in it ..so results are seen right away but not long lasting. “The main ingredient is a plant that is toxic in all its parts and was actually used to kill people slowly in the dark ages”
    NeruimAD is not a member of the DSA (Direct Sales Association) so that is red flag # 1….red
    flag #2 is that the product is made from a poisonous plant….research
    doesn’t show long term effects of use (ie. 40-50yrs down the road, what
    are the side effects of using this product?.) So this is a very scary for me now that I used it.
    I
    wished now that I would have read up on the product before I purchased
    it. I would not recommend anyone putting this on there skin or have
    around your children or pets. Sorry Cindy. I just feel I need to get the
    word out. Some companies will do anything to make the money no matter
    what kind of effects it could cause on people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brad.mayeux Brad Mayeux

    as an herbalist, i have used many plants deemed “unsafe”.

    This plant goes beyond that. it is DEADLY.

    why you chose to do an article on it is unclear, there are many good plants to work with

  • Margritts

    If this plant is so toxic why is it sold in the local nurseries?

  • Susan

    At North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology (NACCT) meeting in Las Vegas we exhibited and shared product safety information and provided NeriumAD Age-Defying Treatment product samples to the attending MD, PhD, Phar.D., FDA, FBI Toxicologist/Pharmacologist and Poison Control Center Directors experts consisting of five independent MD, Pediatric MD, PhD, Phar.D, also professors of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and a former Medical Officer for the Food and Drug Administration “FDA”.

    The presentation/discussion included the review of Dr. Newman’s research and ST&T clinical data, a review of the data base of the American Association of Poison Control Centers as it relates to Nerium oleander plant comments about the confusion associated with the generic term “oleander,” comments about what is credible information on the Internet and myths about Nerium oleander, toxicity of NeriumAD as it relates to children, comparison to other safe products that contain toxic compounds, and the final consensus on the safety of NeriumAD. The conclusion of the panel was that NeriumAD was safe.

    There is Nerium oleander plant (used in NeriumAD), which is often mistaken for a different plant called Thevetia peruviana (referred to as yellow oleander), This yellow-flowered plant is responsible for a large number of toxic reports and is often confused as oleander in a generic sense. So when you hear “Nerium oleander,” you may confuse it with a plant that has a much more poisonous, toxic reputation, when it actually is not poisonous. In about 2.3 million plant exposures over the last 25 years, there have been only 43 deaths due to plant ingestion in the United States. None of them have involved Nerium oleander, and there are absolutely no fatalities associated.

    The amount of oleander in the entire container of NeriumAD is a non-toxic dose even to children. A one-year-old child could ingest the entire contents of 400 bottles of NeriumAD and it would still remain a non-toxic dose of NeriumAD. A quote from Paracelsus (1493-1541), who said, “All things are poison and nothing is without poison.” However, “the dose makes the poison.” Botox is one of the most toxic chemicals we have, but it has been possible to adjust the dose, allowing it to be used by thousands of individuals.

    “As a result of the studies, the study design, and data captured, NeriumAD has no evidence of toxicity and no absorption into the systemic circulation.” He concluded that the NeriumAD product is perfectly safe to use.

  • montezaro

    Well, as a child growing up in the Mediterranean, I was surrounded by oleanders. All little girls we used to squeeze the juice from the leaf steam to our nails to make them shine. No one was ever poisoned. And – no, we did not run home to wash our hands. So, don’t panic! I never heard of somebody dying because of the plant in my country. Maybe there is a different kind that is way more poisons. I should be dead looooong time ago.

  • http://mgoh7.twcleanse.hop.clickbank.net/ Tanya

    Nedra, I am a Master Herbalist and Holistic Health Coach. Please email me and I can help you with safer ways to boost your immune system. It is imperative to find the cause before treating. herbalist@mountaingrannys.com

    God bless! :)

  • cheryl person

    Please don’t ever use Nerium….dangerous!

  • Rose D

    They are a
    Member of the DSA, Carla.

  • Rose D

    They are a member of the DSA, Carla.

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