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Oleander: Health Benefits, Uses and Toxicity

  1. The oleander is an evergreen, abundantly flowering shrub. Oleander can reach a height of 2 to 6 meters and, if left alone, becomes very wide. The leathery leaves have a lanceolate appearance and are up to about 15 cm long. The flowers of the wild forms are colored pink or white. The flowers are between 3 and 5 cm wide. The oleander originates from the Mediterranean, southern Portugal and from Iran to East Asia, where it often grows along streams and rivers. Especially in midsummer the impression can arise that it grows in dust-dry soil. However, appearances can be deceiving as they need a lot of water. It may be that the top layer of the earth has actually dried out, but especially if it blooms profusely, you can be sure that it is getting water (e.g. groundwater) from its root system somewhere. The oleander is a decorative but very poisonous shrub or tree. It contains cardiac glycosides, which are also used therapeutically.

What is the oleander?

  1. The nerium oleander ('oleander' for short) belongs to the periwinkle family (Apocynaceae). Although the oleander is very poisonous, it is used in naturopathy and homeopathy as a medicine for heart disease

Toxic parts (toxicity)

  1. Cardiac glycosides The whole plant is poisonous. Animals that eat the plant can die within hours to days. Therefore, keep the plant far away from small children and pets (who can eat the plant). The main active ingredients are compounds that act on the heart

Health Benefits

  1. The oleander was already used in early Arab medicine to treat snake bites. The ancient Indians used yellow oleanders against hemorrhoids and skin diseases such as scabies. In European (natural) medicine, oleander was sometimes also used as a remedy for heart complaints. However, in 2020 the use of the plant is considered obsolete, because more effective preparations are available. Only in homeopathy is the oleander used to treat cardiac arrhythmias

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