Medicinal use of the oleander plant dates back at least 3500 years. Historical records show that the Mesopotamians in the 15th century B.C. believed in the healing properties of oleander. The Babylonians used a mixture of oleander and licorice to treat hangovers.
Roman soldiers also regularly took an oleander extract for hangovers. Pliny, the Elder of ancient Greece, wrote about the appearance and properties of oleander. Arab physicians first used oleander as a cancer treatment in the 8th century A.D.
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Although much of the recent focus on oleander has centered on cancer, HIV, and hepatitis-C, uses based on tradition or theory have included:
Abnormal menstruation, alcoholism, anorexia, anti-fertility, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, asthma, bacterial infections, cachexia (weight loss/wasting from some diseases), cardiac abnormalities, cathartic, corns, diuretic (increase urine flow), epilepsy (seizure), eye diseases, heart disease, hemorrhoids, indigestion, inflammation, insecticide, leprosy, malaria, menstrual stimulant, neurologic disorders, pregnancy termination, psoriasis, psychiatric disorders, rat poison, ringworm, sinus problems, snake bites, skin diseases, skin eruptions, swelling, venereal disease, vomiting, warts, weight gain.
Source: MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.