Oleander: A Deadly Plant That Cannot Cure COVID-19

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Despite its beauty, oleander is highly toxic and can cause severe illness and even death. Even touching the plant or its sap can be dangerous. Blanchi Costela/Getty Images

Oleander, also known as Nerium oleander, is a plant that is famous for its striking flowers and thick, leathery leaves. However, it is also an extremely poisonous plant that can cause severe illness or death from just a small taste. Unfortunately, some reports suggest that President Donald Trump has shown interest in oleandrin, a botanical made from the toxic oleander plant, as a potential cure for COVID-19.

However, doctors, toxicologists, public health experts, and other medical professionals are skeptical about the plant’s ability to positively impact the COVID-19 crisis. Moreover, they are concerned that the plant could kill people during the investigation process.

What is Oleander?

Oleander is an evergreen shrub that is also known as Nerium indicum, Nerium odorum, kaner, rosebay, or rose laurel. It belongs to the Apocynaceae or dogbane family and produces a gummy, clear sap. Native to northern Africa and the eastern Mediterranean, oleander is commonly found in hot, coastal areas of the United States, such as Florida.

The plant has dark green foliage and funnel-shaped flowers that can be white, pink, red, or yellow. Although oleander can grow up to 12 feet tall, all parts of the plant are poisonous to humans and animals and have been responsible for cases of accidental poisoning around the world.

While oleander has been used in herbal medicine for centuries, it should only be used under the care of an experienced clinical herbalist or other clinician. The plant is dangerous and can cause harm if not used with the utmost care.

Oleandrin as a Medication?

Oleandrin is a derivative botanical that is similar to digoxin, a compound derived from foxglove plants. Digoxin is used to treat advanced heart failure patients. However, oleandrin is a toxic compound, a toxic cardiac glycoside, found in the oleander plant. Cardiac glycosides are also found in other plants, such as digitalis (foxglove). Although these compounds are used in medications to treat heart failure and certain irregular heartbeats, ingesting plants containing cardiac glycosides or taking medications containing cardiac glycosides every day can easily lead to an overdose.

Pharmaceutical drug-development company Phoenix Biotechnologies has researched oleander for its potential applications in cancer treatment and as an antiviral agent. Some of the studies have shown promising results in the lab, but it has not been tested in humans.

Medical experts are warning against the use of oleandrin, a plant extract that has been touted as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Despite claims made by its proponents, there is no scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of oleandrin against viral infections. In fact, studies have shown that it can reduce life expectancy and cause arrhythmias, while every part of the oleander plant is toxic. Medical professionals are urging people to exercise caution and seek out evidence-based information when considering any medical advice. It is important to note that science is not a matter of political opinion and should not be manipulated for personal gain.


1. What is oleander?

Oleander is a shrub or small tree that is native to areas in the Mediterranean and Asia. It is known for its beautiful flowers, which can be pink, white, or red. However, all parts of the plant are toxic, and it is not safe for human consumption.

2. Why do people believe oleander can cure COVID-19?

There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that oleander can cure COVID-19. However, some people have suggested that extracts from the plant may have antiviral properties. These claims are not supported by any reliable studies, and there is no evidence that oleander can treat or prevent COVID-19.

3. Is oleander safe to consume?

No, oleander is not safe to consume. All parts of the plant are toxic, and ingestion can cause a range of symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, and even death. There is no safe dose of oleander, and it should never be consumed by humans or animals.

4. Can oleander be used for anything?

While oleander is not safe to consume, it has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Extracts from the plant have been used to treat a range of conditions, including heart disease, asthma, and skin disorders. However, there is little scientific evidence to support these uses, and oleander should not be used as a substitute for proven medical treatments.

5. What should I do if I have consumed oleander?

If you have consumed oleander, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of oleander poisoning can appear quickly and may require urgent treatment. Do not induce vomiting or attempt to treat the symptoms yourself, as this can be dangerous.

6. What is the best way to protect myself from COVID-19?

The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to follow recommended public health guidelines, including wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands regularly. Vaccines are also available and have been shown to be highly effective in preventing COVID-19. If you have any concerns about your health or the safety of potential treatments, speak to a medical professional.

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