WARNING: Oleandrin from the Oleander plant is DANGEROUS!
Oleandrin, which has recently received significant media attention for prevention and treatment of COVID-19, is DANGEROUS.
As a Registered Clinical Herbalist, I feel a sense of responsibility to provide accurate, scientific, reliable information regarding the recent breaking story regarding oleandrin, a substance derived from the oleander (Nerium oleander) plant, as a potential treatment and cure for COVID-19.
DO NOT INGEST any products that contain any form of oleandin or oleander.
Oleander is classified as a 'cardiac glycoside', which is a fancy name for an organic compound that can increase heart rate and force. Other cardiac glycosides include foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), from which the drug digoxin is derived, and lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). In small doses administered by a SKILLED medical practitioner, cardiac glycosides may be used to treat congestive heart failure, arrhythmias (irregular heart beat), bradycardia (slow heart beat). This is, in fact, what digoxin is used for. "Too large" a dose can cause/exacerbate slow heart beat, irregular heart beat, or stop the heart entirely = death.
There is a VERY narrow therapeutic window for cardiac glycosides. The difference between therapeutic and toxic/lethal dose is very small.
I'm not entirely sure where the idea of using oleandin for COVID-19 came from. After hearing the story in the media (which I will not repeat because there is no veracity to it), I visited my trusted, subscription database that keeps up with all of the latest scientific research on countless herbs and supplements. What I found was largely a discussion about oleander's cardiac effects, some studies as a cancer treatment, and effects on the nervous system in mice. Though there was a brief mention of anti-parasitic activity, there was nothing specific on anti-viral action. For more information on the dangers of oleandin, please click on the following buttons for trusted information from two highly respected herb organizations:
Herbal Care During the Pandemic
Unfortunately, there is no miracle cure for COVID-19, but there are many opportunities to strengthen your body and immunity through good diet and lifestyle choices and, of course, herbs. I have previously published several topics that may help you get through these troubled times. I thought it would be useful to compile some of them for you here.
· Garlic (great anti-microbial!)
Donna Koczaja, M.S., RH(AHG) graduated from Maryland University of Integrative Health (formerly Tai Sophia Institute) with a Master of Science in Therapeutic Herbalism and a Post-Master's Certificate in Clinical Herbalism. She earned Registered Herbalist status from the American Herbalists’ Guild in 2018. Originally educated as a mechanical engineer, she combines the rigor of her original scientific training with the traditional healing art of herbal medicine to partner with her clients to uncover the root cause of their underlying health issues. Also a Master Gardener since 2008, her primary interest is in inspiring others to improve their health and sense of wellbeing through the joys of gardening and the power of natural medicine.