Nerium oleander Blanco

Nerium odorum Soland

Local names: Adelfa (Sp., Tag.); baladre (Tag.); rose bay, dog bane, south sea rose, oleander, ceylon tree (Engl.).

Adelfa is found throughout the Philippines in cultivation, but nowhere established. It was apparently introduced by the Spaniards and is a native of subtropical or tropical Asia and is now pantropic in distribution. Both simple and double forms are cultivated for their showy flowers.

This is an erect, smooth shrub 1.5 to 3 meters in height and contains a cream-colored, sticky, resinous juice. The leaves are mostly in whorls of 3 to 4, linear-lanceolate and 10 to 5 centimeters long, with numerous, horizontal nerves. The flowers are showy, sweet-scented, single or double, 4 to 5 centimeters in diameter, white, pink, or red, and borne on terminal inflorescences (cymes). The fruit is cylindric, in pairs, with deep liner striations, slightly twisted, and 15 to 20 centimeters long. The seeds are numerous and compressed, with a tuft of fine, shining, white and grayish, silky hairs.

Schmiedeberg isolated from the leaves of Nerium oleander,neriin and oleandrin, both of which active principles he considered as glucoside. He remarked that nerrin has properties similar to digitalin. Wehmer records that the seeds yield fat 17.4 per cent, phytosterin and l-strophanthin. According to Pieszczek, the bark contains the toxic glucosides, rosaginin and nerrin, volatile oil, fixed oil, etc.

Greenish described the histology of the bark, and, in his chemical studies, extracted from the bark of N. odorum two bitter principles, bith toxic glucosides-neriodorin and neriodorein. Bose isolated another active, toxic principle which he has named karabin. He believes that neriodorin and karabin are not glucosides but possess the characters of a resin. Schmiedeberg considers neriodorin and neriodorein to be identical to his neriin and oleandrin. Leulier extracted from the latex the neriin of Schmiedeberg and remarked and has actually been named l-strophanthin.

The toxicity of the plant is lengthily discussed by Steyn. He quotes straub [arch. Exp. Path. And Pharm. 16 (1882)]’ who states that the pahrmacological actions of neriin and oleandrin marked resemble those of the digitals glucosided, the latter resembling that of digitoxin. He states that fowls, ducks, geese, goats, sheeps, horses, and cattle have been poisoned by oleander. In human beings the following symptomsare described: Nausea, vomiting colic, inappetence, dizziness, drowsiness, staggering, decrease in pulse rate, irregular heart-action, marked mydriasis, bloody diarrhea, and unconsciousness. Death, which may result, is due to heart failure or respiratory paralysis, and is sometimes preceded by spasms. The treatment should be along the same lines as that for digitalis poisoning; alcohol or caffeine should be used to stimulate the heart and lobeline, to stimulate respiration.

In the Philippines, Guerrero reports that the bark and leaves are poisonous. With an admixture of oil, they are employed as an external application to skin eruptions or irritations in herpes, etc.

Waddell reports that the root is used, both locally and internally, by women in western and Southern India and in the central Malay Peninsula for suicide and for procuring criminal abortion. Drury sys that the bark of the root is applied externally as a paste in cases of ringworm. The root contains a yellow, poisonous resin, tannic acid, wax, and sugar, but no alkaloid or volatile poison. The same poison resides in the bark and flowers. It is used in leprosy, eruptions of the skin, and boils. Honigberger states that the roots are prescribed for asthma in the Punjab and Cashmere but does not mention in what form they are given. According to Nadkarni, the root is used externally, being made into a paste with water and applied to haemorrhoids.

Steyn reports that the leaves are used in the treatment of malaria and dysmenorrhea and as an abortifacient. The leaves and bark are used externally for eczemas and snakebite and as an insecticide, and internally for epilepsy. E Grosourdy says that the powder of the dried leaves is a powerful sternutatory.

Symock, Warden, and Hooper quote Oefele [Pharm. Pr. (1895) 2-5], who draws attention to the action of the plant (an infusion of the fruit) as a diuretic and heart-tonic which can take the place of digitalis. Gattefasse mentions that an infusion of the leaves and fruit constitutes a good cardiac regulator. The fresh leaves are applied in Morocco to tumors to hasten suppuration.


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