Medicinal uses of nerium oleander include treating ulcers, hemorrhoids, and leprosy. In addition, oleander has been used to treat ringworm, herpes, and abscesses. It is native to northern Africa, Southeast Asia, and parts of the Mediterranean. Although people have used this supplement for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, nerium oleander is very toxic and should not be ingested.
Oleander poisoning can occur with uses of even small doses and can cause nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and dizziness. In addition, nerium oleander toxicity can cause loss of appetite and dilated pupils. The symptoms of toxicity typically occur within three hours of consumption and without emergency medical intervention, serious health consequences can occur. If these and other symptoms such as shortness of breath and difficulty breathing occur, 911 should be notified.
Serious effects of oleander toxicity can include seizures, heart irregularities, and hypotension. In addition, fatal cardiac complications and loss of consciousness can occur as well. Treatment for this medical emergency includes the administration of activated charcoal and intravenous fluids. In addition, gastric lavage, or stomach pumping, may be done to remove as much of the substance as possible from the stomach.
Treating medical conditions with nerium oleander is typically done only when the substance is diluted heavily. It is important to note, however, that there is no safe dosage for this substance, because diluted or not, the parts of this plant are extremely toxic. This danger exists whether the plant is made into a tonic or tea, or consumed raw. Even though it is toxic, people still use nerium oleander to treat cancers, such as those of the prostate, lung, and bladder.
Skin irritation from nerium oleander and allergic reactions are also possible. Signs of an allergic skin reaction to oleander include itching, hives, redness, and inflammation. Treatment for a local skin reaction from oleander include taking an over-the-counter antihistamine. Even though oleander commonly causes skin irritation, it has been used for centuries in the treatment of scabies, a type of mite that burrows itself in the skin causing scabbing and itching.
Although consuming oleander and using it as a topical preparation is not recommended for anyone, it can be especially dangerous for pregnant women or those who are breast feeding. Before considering using oleander for a medical condition, it should be discussed with an experienced health care practitioner who can warn of its dangers.