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Scientific names

Common names

Nerium indicum Mill.


Nerium oleander Blanco
Nerium odorum Soland.
Jia zhu tao (Chin.)

Adelfa (Span., Tag.)


Baladre (Tag.)
Ceylon Tree (Engl.)
Dog bane (Engl.)
Oleander (Engl.)
Rose bay (Engl.)
South sea rose (Engl.)
Ou zhou jia zhu tao (Chin.)

Other vernacular names


AFRIKAANS: Selonsroos
ARABIC: Defla, Difla
FRENCH: Laurier rose, Oleandre
GERMAN: Oleander
ITALIAN: Oleandrio
JAPANESE: Kyochiku-to
PORTUGUESE: Loendro
SPANISH: Adelfa, Balandre, Laurel rosa, Pasua.

Botany
Adelfa is an erect, smooth shrub, 1.5 to 3 meters high with a cream-colored, sticky, resinous juice.
Leaves are in whorls of 3 or 4, linear-lanceolate, 10 to15 centimeters long, with numerous horizontal
nerves. Flowers are showy, sweet-scented, single or double, 4 to 5 centimeters in diameter, white, pink,
or red, borne on terminal inflorescences (cymes). Fruit is cylindric, paired, with deep linear striations, 15
to 20 centimeters long. Seeds are numerous and compressed, with a tuft of fine, shining, white and
grayish, silky hairs.

Distribution
- Throughout the Philippines in cultivation.
- Nowhere established.
- Introduced by the Spaniards.
- Native of subtropical or tropical Asia.
- Now pantropic.

Constituents
- Phytochemical screening of plant materials yielded alkaloids, tannins, flavonoids, amino acids,
phenols, terpenoids, carbohydrates, loco anthocyanidine, steroids, and glycosides. (33)
- Study yielded glycoside, oleandrin; tannin; volatile oil, 0.25%.
- Yielded two principles: neriin and oleandrin, glucosides with properties similar to digitalin.
- The seeds yield fat 17.4%, phytosterin and l-strophanthin.

- Bark contains toxic glycosides: rosaginin and nerlin, volatile oil, fixed oil.
- Nerium odorum's bark yielded two toxic bitter principlesneriodorin and neriodorein. Another toxic
principle is karabin. Both karabin and neriodorin are probably resins, rather than glucosides.
- Roots yield a yellow, poisonous resin, tannic acid, wax, and sugar, but no alkaloid or volatile poison.
- Study isolated 14 compounds: a new pregnane, 14,16-dihydroxy-3-oxo--lactone-pregn-4-en-21-oic
acid (16,17), and thirteen known cardiac glycosides:oleandrin, oleandrigenin, neriosid,
nerigoside,16,17-didehydrosomalin, oleaside A, adynerin, odoroside-A , 3-hydroxy-5-carda-8,14,20,
(22)-trienolid, odoroside H, deacetyloandrin, adynerigenin,3-hydroxy-5-8,14-epoxy-card-20(22)enolid.
- Study of roots yielded carbohydrates, proteins, steroids, flavanoids, tannins, and phenolic compounds.

Properties
- Leaves and flowers are considered cardiotonic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic and expectorant.
- Whole plant believed to have anticancer, antiinflammatory, antibacterial, sedating, and anthelmintic
effects.
- The pharmacologic actions of of neriin and oleandrin resemble those of digitalis glucosides. In human
beings, toxicity manifests as nausea, vomiting, colic, decreased appetite, dizziness, drowsiness,
bradycardia and irregular heart beats, pupillary dilation, and sometimes unconsciousness attributed to
digitalis poisoning.
- Reported biologic activities to include anti-inflammatory, sedative, anti-bacterial, cardiac, anti-neoplastic
and anthelmintic.

Parts used
Bark and leaves.

Uses
Folkloric
- Herpes zoster (skin): Crush leaves, mix with oil and apply on lesions. Do not apply on raw surface.
Milky juice of the plant is irritating. Caution: Not to be taken internally.
- Herpes simplex: Mix 1 cup of chopped leaves and bark with 2 tablespoons of oil. Apply to lesions 3
times daily.
- Ringworm: Chop a foot long branch and mix with 1 cup chopped fresh young leaves. Mix the juice with
5 drops of fresh coconut oil. Apply 3 times daily.
- Snake bites: Pound 10 leaves and a piece of branch. Apply poultice to the wound.
- Root used, locally and internally, by women in western and southern India and in the central Malay
Peninsula for suicide and for procuring criminal abortion.
- Past of bark of the roots is applied externally for ringworm.
- Used in leprosy, skin eruptions, and boils.
- In the Punjab and Cashmere areas, roots are used for asthma.
- Leaves used in the treatment of malaria and dysmenorrhea; also used as abortifacient.
- Roots, made into paste with water, used for hemorrhoids.
- Leaves and bark used externally for eczema, snake bites and as insecticide; internally, used for
epilepsy.
- Dried leaves used as sternutatory.
- Infusion of leaves and fruit used a cardiac regulator.
- In Morocco, fresh leaves applied to tumors to hasten suppuration.
- In traditional Chinese medicine, the flowers and leaves have been used to stimulate the cardiac
muscles, relieve pain and eliminate blood stasis.

Studies
Molluscicidal activity / Bark: Study evaluated the molluscicidal activity of N. indicum bark against
Lymnaea acuminata. Toxicity of different bark preparations was both time and dose dependent. (31)
Study showed the bark of Nerium indicum as an important source of botanical molluscicide and is an
effective insecticide against Blatta orientalis. Glycosides, steroids and terpenoids were also isolated from
Nerium indicum.
Primary Metabolites: Study on the quantification of primary metabolites in N. indicum yielded
carbohydrates, proteins, phenols, lipids, etc. N. indicum's stem contains higher levels of phenol which
has immuno-modulating, anti-tumour and antibacterial activities. (1)
Cardiovascular Effect / Tincture : Tincture Karveer is a potent cardiotonic drug which is also
purported to relieve symptoms of Cor pulmonale as a bronchodilator and cough sedative. The tincture is
considered safe and helpful, and promising for the treatment of CHF in humans. (2)
Neuroprotective: Study of isolated polysaccharides from the flowers of N. indicum (J6) showed
potential as a neuroprotective agent against neuronal death in Alzheimer's disease through a
mechanism that may primarily rely on inactivation of the JNK signaling pathway. (3)
Polysaccharides / Nerve Growth Factor-like Effect: Study of polysaccharides J1 (a

rhamnogalacturonan) and J2 (a xyloglucan) from the whole flowers of N. indicum were tested on the
proliferation and differentiation of PC12 pheochromocytoma cells and found to have nerve growth factorlife effect. (4)
Analgesic: Study of extract of flowers and roots of N. indicum showed promising antinociceptive
activity mediated through the prostaglandin pathways with analgesic principles interfering with the
biosynthesis of prostaglandins. (5)
Larvicidal: Study of larvicidal lethality of extracts of lattices of N indicum and E royleana on Culex
quinquefasciatus showed significant delay in embryonic development of Culex larvae. (6)
Antimicrobial / Antifungal: In a study of the ethanolic extracts of dried leaves of N. indicum and
Martynia annua, N indicum showed significant antibacterial and antifungal activity compared to M.
annua. (7)
Anti-Angiogenesis: Study yielded three oligosaccharides. Bioactivity angiogenesis testing showed
two of the oligosaccharides significantly inhibited the HMEC-1 cell tube formation. (8)
Cytotoxicity / Anticancer: Most of the compounds isolated from the leaves of N. indicum exhibited
strong cytotoxicity against HeLa cell. Odoroside-A exhibited the strongest cytotoxicity. (9)
Molluscicidal / Bark: Study of different bark preparations showed varying degrees of time- and dosedependent molluscicidal activity. (10)
Anti-Ulcer: Study of a methanol extract against pylorus-induced gastric ulcer and indomethacininduced ulcer in rats showed significant antiulcer activity in all models with significant reduction of gastric
volume, free acidity, and ulcer index. Results suggest an antisecretory effect. (11)
Anti-Diabetic / Leaves: Study investigated the antidiabetic activity of a leaf extract in alloxan-induced
diabetic albino rats. Results showed significant antidiabetic activity which may be due to improvement of
the glycemic control mechanisms. (32)
CNS Effects / Sedative / Hypnotic : Study on behavior pattern in mice showed fractions of leaves
extract induced sedation at low dose and hypnosis at high doses. Fractions also showed significant
decrease in locomotion counts, decrease in motor performances and enhancement of hexobarbital
sleeping time. Effects are possibly through GABA-ergic modifications. (12)
Anti-HIV / Anticancer: In a small clinical trial (20 patients in a DB, placebo controlled study) in a
Johannesburg AIDS clinic evaluating the effectiveness of supplements ingredients (Nerium oleander and
Sutherlandia frutescens) against HIV results showed significant improvement with an increase in CD4
count while the placebo group declined. (14)
Hepatoprotective / CCl4-Induced Liver Injury: A methanolic plant extract showed remarkable
hepatoprotective activity against carbon-tetrachloride induced hepatotoxicity in rats. (15) Study showed
antioxidant and hepatoprotective activity of methanol flower extract on CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity. (40)
Toxicity Studies: Study evaluated the toxic effects of a crude watery extract in male adult guinea pigs.
The lowest nonlethal dose was 300 mg/kbw and doses of 450 to 900 caused varying frequency of
mortality. The LD50 is 540 mg/kbw. (16)
Toxicity Studies / Experimental Poisoning in Sheep: Study reported clinical, ECG, and pathologic
findings in goats consistent with those reported in sheep and cattle. Main signs were related to the
gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems. Study concludes goat is susceptible to oleander toxicosis
just like other domestic ruminants. However, the unpalatable nature of the plant and the selective
feeding habit of the goat, make poisoning in this species infrequent. (17)
Anvirzel / Antitumor / Anticancer: Study evaluated the cell killing effects of Anvirzel, an extract of
oleander, and Oleandrin, a derivative compound, on human, canine, and murine tumor cells. Both
Anvirzel and Oleandrine were able to induce cell killing in human cancer cells, but not in murine cancer

cells. The cell-killing potential of Oleandrin was greater than that of Anvirzel. Results conclude both act in
a species-specific manner. (20)
CNS Activities / Anticonvulsant / Flower Extract: Study evaluated the CNS activity of a 50%
hydroalcoholic flower extract in mice. Results showed significant reduction of spontaneous motor activity,
potentiation of pentobarbital-induced sleep, and protection against electroshock-induced convulsions.
(21)
Antidiabetic / Leaf Extract: Study investigated the antidiabetic effect of a leaf extract in alloxan
induced diabetic albino rats. The extract showed significant antidiabetic activity and prevented weight
loss in diabetic rats. The antihyperglycemic action may be due to improvement of glycemic control
mechanisms. Standard used was glibenclamide. (22)
Anti-Inflammatory / Leaf Extract: Study of various leaf extracts of Nerium oleander showed
significant anti-inflammatory and antipyretic activity. The antipyretic effect was almost equivalent to
paracetamol. (23)
Antioxidant / Phenolic Content: Study evaluated various extracts of N. oleander for antioxidant using
various assays and total phenolic content. Methanolic and aqueous methanolic extracts showed the
highest amount of total phenolic content. Results showed flowers can be a potential source of natural
antioxidants. (24)
Toxicity / Seed Extract / Rodenticide: Study evaluated to basic toxicity of seed extract of Indian
oleander on the bandicoot rat, Bandicota bengalensis in the laboratory. Results showed the seed extract
can be used as an effective bio-rodenticide with suitable bait bases. (25)
Biomonitoring of Lead Pollution: Study examined the concentration of Pb, Cd, and Cu in leaves of
N. oleander and Robinia pseudoacacia plants in biomonitoring of atmospheric pollution. Results showed
Nerium oleander can be used for biomonitoring of Pb. (26)
Antibacterial / Antioxidant / Cytotoxicity / Leaves and Flowers: Study showed methanol extracts to
have high antioxidant activity on DPPH assay. Dichlomethane and methanol extracts showed strong
antibacterial activity. The dichlormethane extract showed high cytotoxic effects against T47D, HepG-2
and K562 cell lines. (27)
Antihyperlipidemic / Flowers: Study evaluated the toxicity profile of 50% hydroethanolic extracts of
flowers using brine shrimp lethality assay and MTT cytotoxicity assay. Results showed no toxicity with a
wide safety margin and a significant ameliorative action on elevated lipids and lipoproteins in a dosedependent manner. (28)
Antibacterial / Leaves: Study evaluated the antibacterial potential of Nerium indicum leaves. Results
showed a benzene extract to be more effective than an ethanolic extract in inhibition of Bacillus subtilis.
Standard used was Ofloxacin. Both extracts showed negligible activity against E. coli. Phytochemical
screening yielded cardiac glycosides, tannins and phenolic compounds, alkaloids, and flavonoids. (29)
Anthelmintic / Roots: Study evaluated various extracts for anthelmintic activity against adult Indian
earthworm, Pheritima posthuma. The ethanolic extract was more active, demonstrating paralysis and
death of worms in less time compared to the other extracts and albendazole at higher concentrations.
(30)
Toxicity / Cardiac Glycosides / Oleandrin & Oleandrigenin: Considered a poisonous plant because
of compounds that exhibit toxicity, especially in animals, when consumed in excessive amounts, for
example, the cardiac glycosides oleandrin and oleandrigenin. However, despite "poisonous" designation,
there are very few reports of toxicity in humans. In 2002 there were 842 human exposures reported in
the U.S., with only 3 reported deaths from 1985 through 2005. Fatalities were associated with ingestion;
no toxicity or deaths have been reported from contact or topical administration. (33)

Antibacterial / Anticancer: Extracts of N. oleander showed antibacterial activity with inhibition of


pathogenic bacteria E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus. It anti-cancer activity compared with anticancer
drug cisplatin on the growth of (L20B) cell line. (33)
Larvicidal / Flowers / Culex quinquefasciatus: Study of crude hexane and aqueous extract of
Nerium oleander flowers showed larvicidal activity against filarial vector, Culex quinquefasciatus. Studies
are needed to identify the active ingredients responsible for the larvicidal activity. (34)
CNS Depressant Activity: Study investigated various extract of leaves of N. oleander on CNS activity
in rat and mouse. Extracts showed CNS depressant activity with a significant reduction in spontaneous
activity, exploration, muscle relaxant activity and significantly potentiated phenobarbitone sodiuminduced sleeping time. (35)
Cardiotonic / Leaf: Study investigated the cardiotonic activity of hydroalcoholic leaf extract of Nerium
indicum. Results showed dose dependent positive ionotropic effect on perfused hypodynamic frog heart
and isolated rabbit heart. (36)
Toxicity / Repellent / Larvicidal: Diet based on Nerium oleander leaves halted the development of
fourth instar larvae of the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria larvae. Weight loss was due to low food
intake related to the repellent and anti-palatable effect of the plant. The toxic effect of N. oleander could
be due to toxic secondary compounds contained in the leaves. (37)
Polysaccharide J6 / Neuroprotective / Flowers: Polysaccharide J6 isolated from the flowers of N.
indicum can serve as neuroprotective agent against neuronal death in Alzheimer's disease. The
neuroprotective mechanism may rely on the inactivation of JNK signaling pathway. (38)
Antiulcer / Flowers: Study of flowers extract in gastric ulcer model in rats induced by indomethacin
and pylorus ligation showed significant antiulcer activity. Cimetidine was used as reference drug. (39)

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