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Yellow Oleander

Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD

Scientific Name:

Thevetia spp. (Syn. Cascabela spp)

Other Common Name:

Be-still tree, Lucky nut (White, 2003).

Common Names in Spanish*:

Codo de Fraile, Cojón de gato, Hueso de fraile, Yóyotl, Yoyotli (Náhuatl)

*In Mexico, this seed may also be sold by the erroneous name of “semilla de Brasil”.

Where is it found?

Various species of this ornamental shrub or small tree are native to southern Mexico and various other countries of Tropical America. The plants are now distributed worldwide in tropical areas, including parts of Australia, Africa, and Asia (especially in southern India and Sri Lanka).

Parts of the plant used:

The leaves, seeds and milky latex (‘juice”) from the stem and leaves. The bark of the tree is sometimes used. However, it should be noted that all parts of the plant, including the flowers, are poisonous.

Yellow Oleander
Photo: Dr. Armando González-Stuart
Thevetia spp. flower

How is it used?

The latex (milky juice), the crushed seeds, and the bark are used externally as pastes or poultices.

What is it used for?

Certain vendors and internet sites falsely promote taking small amounts of the crude seed or capsules containing the pulverized material, as a purported “natural weight loss” supplement, even though the seed has long been known to be toxic.

  • There are no known studies that indicate the plant has any effect on weight loss, but there are many documented reports of deaths and serious poisoning from various countries around the world, that clearly prove the seed’s toxicity.
  • The yellow oleander seed is also commonly known by the erroneous name of “nuez de la India”, which refers to a very different (but also potentially toxic) species (Aleurites moluccanus- Euphorbiaceae), known in English as “candlenut tree seed”, also advertised a “weight loss” supplement.
  • The milky juice of the plant is applied in very small amounts to aching gums, as well as to the anal area in order to relive inflammation and pain due to hemorrhoids (a very dangerous practice that should be avoided).
  • Externally, the dried bark, as well as the crushed roots, are made into a poultice or wash to treat skin infections (Quattrocchi, 2012).


Yellow Oleander seeds
Photo: Dr. Armando González-Stuart
Yellow oleander fruit containing seeds

Yellow Oleander capsules
Photo: Dr. Armando González-Stuart
Yellow oleander seeds sold as capsules



Safety / Precautions


  • All parts of the plant are toxic
  • Do not use this plant, either externally or internally, for any reason
  • Keep these plants away from children and pets
  • Call your nearest poison control center immediately in case of accidental ingestion!

Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with your health care professional first. Avoid self-diagnosis and self-medication: Always be on the safe side!

Note: For more in depth information about this plant and references, please go to the Scientific Monographs section of this site.


Argueta, A. (Editor). Plantas Medicinales de Uso Tradicional en la Ciudad de México. Mexico City: UNAM; 2014; pp. 122-123.

Frohne D, Pfander H. Poisonous Plants 2nd ed. Portland OR: Timber Press; 2005.

Mabberley D J. Mabberley’s Plant Book 4th ed. London: Cambridge University Press; 2017; pp. 28, 919.

Martínez M. Las Plantas Medicinales de México. Mexico City: Editorial Botas; 1989.

Mendoza-Castelan G, Lugo-Perez R. Plantas Medicinales en los Mercados de México. Chapingo: Universidad Autónoma Chapingo; 2011; p. 318.

Pirasath S, Arulnithy K. Yellow oleander poisoning in eastern province: an analysis of admission and outcome. Indian J Med Sci. 2013; 67(7-8):178-83. doi: 10.4103/0019-5359.125879.

Quattrocchi, U. World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants (4 vols.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2012; pp. 560-561.

Rajapakse S. Management of yellow oleander poisoning. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2009; 47(3):206-12. doi: 10.1080/15563650902824001.

Wagstaff J. International Poisonous Plant Checklist: An Evidence-Based Reference. CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL; 2008.

White R. Elsevier’s Dictionary of Plant Names of North America Including Mexico. Amsterdam: Elsevier; 2003; p. 193.

Zamani J, Aslani A. Cardiac findings in acute yellow oleander poisoning. J Cardiovasc Dis Res. 2010; 1(1):27-8. doi: 10.4103/0975-3583.59982.