By Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD(Ayu), PhD
Yellow Oleander is a plant which is appreciated for its beautiful flower. The holy Bible refers oleander plant as the ‘the desert rose’ symbolizing its medicinal values. It is available in different colors like red, yellow, white, pink etc, yellow or white colored one is most commonly used in therapeutics. It is called Peeta Karaveera in Ayurveda
As the seeds are poisonous, in excessive dose, Karaveera plant is enumerated among the Upavisha (semi poisonous plants) in Ayurvedic literature. The plants contain heart-active ‘cardiac glycoside’ chemicals (similar to the drug digoxin), and have been associated with serious side effects in humans, including death. So the seeds are always advised to keep from the usual vicinity.
According to Ayurvedic literature, it possesses Laghu(light)-Ruksha(dry) and Teekshna(penetrative) guna and Vata –kapha pacifying nature. It is hot in potency and bitterness and pungent tastes are in dominance makes this drug useful in vatic disorders.
Roots and bark are the main usable parts in common. But seeds are also equally beneficial but it needs purification.
The ethno-medicinal uses include in the treatment of diverse ailments such as cardiac illnesses, asthma, corns, cancer, and epilepsy;but all these medications are to be carried under strict supervision of the experts.
Read related: Nerium indicum – Karavira – Benefits, Usage, Side Effects – Ayurveda details
The roots of the plant contains glycosides, neriodorin, neriodorein and karabin. The bark contains scopoletin and scopolin. Also it contains tannins, coloring matter, aromatic oil, wax and flobefin and a yellow colored stable oil. It also contains oleandrin. Significant amount of neriodin, nerium D, rutin and anhydro-oleandrin bare also reported to be present in the drug. As it contains large amount of potassium its usage is not advised in the patients who are reported with renal impairment.
Classical texts have emphasized its utility in skin diseases, inflamed conditions, poisoning, insect bite, injuries, worm infestation etc.
Karaveera taila, Karaveera lepa, Karaveera ghrita etc are few formulations derived from this drug.
Some of the folklore practices and simple remedies of oleandor are mentioned here below-
1. Fine paste of leaves in swelling:
Fresh and matured leaves are taken and made into fine paste. This is applied over the joints which are swollen. This helps to reduce the swelling.
2. 2. Bark , Root or Leaf decoction as emetic:
Decoction prepared out of bark, root or leaf is used as emetic especially in food poisoning cases. But the emesis should be carried only under trained staff or expert.
3. Fine paste medication in case of amenorrhoea:
The oleandor leaves and bark are macerated well and fine paste is made. This is given to the individuals who are suffering from amenorrhoea or dysmenorrhoea. This is a traditional practice of Soligas and tribals of Karnataka; however it needs experts supervision.
4. Root powder dusting in skin lesions:
The dried roots powder is dusted over the skin lesions which are oozing or itching. In ulcerative conditions also it is very effective.
5. Flower paste in black heads:
Fine paste of the white colored flowers is applied along with berberis root powder (Daruharidra) with good results.
Dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis
6. Oil processed with milky latex or seeds paste in dandruff and seborric dermatitis:
25 ml latex or 20 gram of seed pulp paste is mixed with 100 ml sesame or mustard oil and cooked well. This is applied over the scalp in cases like seborric dermatitis and dandruff. It is found to be effective in these cases.
A poison can be a medicine if used judicially and prescribed by the person who has thorough knowledge about the drug. The intellectual mind will determine the proper dosage and adjuvant and even the particular part to be used in specific conditions or else the condition may be fatal. Oleandor is one such drug which should be used carefully and only under the strict supervision of the experts.
As the seeds of the plant are unique and strange children use it while playing and hence they are to be educated regarding its poisonous effects.
Click to consult Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu), PhD