Oleander - A Poisonous Shrub
Oleander (genus Nerium oleander ) belonging to family Apocynaceae, is a shrub, quite attractive while flowering and is often grown in gardens and public parks. This shrub is known for its beauty and many people prefer it over other shrubs for it is evergreen and fast-growing . It bears almond-smelling flowers in pink, white, yellow and red colors. However, this shrub is extremely toxic and is considered one of the most poisonous plants in the world! In this article I'll overview what's the science behind its toxicity and the concerns associated with its plantation.
Why is Oleander Poisonous?
Oleander contains many toxic compound including oleandrin and neriine , which are known to be cardiac glycosides (drugs that are used in the treatment of conjunctive heart failure). Despite medicinal usage, these compounds can cause death especially in small children when ingested. Only a small amount of oleander intake has shown adverse effects on human body featuring lethal or near-lethal effects. The glycoside oleandrin when ingested causes serious cardiac problems leading to death. These compounds are present in all parts of the plant and particularly the juice. Oleander bark is said to contain rosagenin which is known for its extreme toxicity (equal to a rat-killing poison).
How Much Poisonous is Oleander?
The toxicity of oleander is so extreme that it remains toxic even after drying. It is thought that a single leaf of this plant can take away the life of a child. Here are some shocking statistics quoted from Wikipedia:
"According to the Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (TESS) in 2002 there were 847 exposures to oleander reported to poison centers in the United States. There are innumerable reported suicidal cases of consuming mashed oleander seeds in southern India. Around 0.23 mg per pound of body weight is lethal to many animals, and various other doses will affect other animals. Most animals can suffer a reaction or death from this plant."
Pictures to Identify Oleander Shrubs
What Are the Symptoms of Oleander Poisoning?
When ingested, oleander reacts by causing nausea and vomiting, excess salivation, abdominal pain, diarrhea , and irregular heart rate . In severe reaction one can get pale in seconds due to poor or irregular blood circulation and in extreme it results in nervous system failure leading to coma and eventually death .
- Oleander poisoning: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
A great article about Oleander poisoning.
- Symptoms of Oleander Poisoning | eHow.com
Symptoms of Oleander Poisoning. In Sri Lanka, almost 2000 people suffer from oleander poisoning every year. What is most shocking is that a majority of these deaths are deliberate self poisoning. The oleander plant is commonly...
- Symptoms of Oleander poisoning - WrongDiagnosis.com
Symptoms of Oleander poisoning including 16 medical symptoms and signs of Oleander poisoning, alternative diagnoses, misdiagnosis, and correct diagnosis for Oleander poisoning signs or Oleander poisoning symptoms.
What to Do in Case of Oleander Poisoning?
The toxic compounds in oleander react quite quickly, so the victim must be given medical treatment immediately. As a first aid induce vomiting to ascertain minimal absorption of poison. Seek immediate medical assistant at an emergency number (like 911).
How to be Safe With this Shrub?
First and foremost -Never ever try to ingest any part of this shrub!
Secondly, even the contact of oleander with skin may cause reaction -so BEWARE!
Lastly, if you're a gardener, avoid planting this shrub at all cost. If you're not a gardener, even then it's your responsibility to let others know about the plant's toxicity. Stay yourself, your children and pets stay away from this pretty shrub -the results can be devastating!