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Nerium Oleander - Nerium AD’s Toxic Active

Reviewed by Marta October 3, 2013 83 Comments

Several of you have written in to ask if we know about and have a view on a newish serum called Nerium AD. I have been given a sample of the Night Cream ($110), but before giving it a try felt that I should do some research into its unusual and very controversial active ingredient and the company behind it.

What Is Nerium Oleander - the Key Ingredient in Nerium AD?

Nerium AD’s key ingredient is a beautiful, but also deadly plant, the Nerium Oleander. This flowering shrub, evocative of New Orleans and Billy Holiday, is commonly used for roadside landscaping due to its forgiving nature towards poor soil. It is also extremely toxic and one leaf can kill a child (source).

Is Nerium Oleander Toxic?

The American Cancer Society unequivocally describes the oleander plant as “poisonous,” and adds “many people have died of heart failure or respiratory paralysis after eating parts of the plant or drinking tea made from it.” Although I found one published report of a death as a result of oral oleander extract, very few toxic events in humans have been reported. According to the Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (TESS) in 2002, there were 847 human exposures to oleander reported to poison centers in the United States. Despite this exposure level, from 1985 through 2005, only three deaths were reported, according to Wikipedia.

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Still, toxic it is. So what’s it doing in my face cream? Well, it has been used in folk medicine for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. Researchers have established that the key components are cardiac glycosides, one of which is called oleandrin. And then Anvirzel burst on the scene, claiming to be a breakthrough cancer-curing drug based on nerium oleander extract. The company behind Anvirzel is Nerium Biotechnology – the same company that makes Nerium AD.

In test tube studies, Anvirzel appeared to slow the growth of human bladder cancer cells. But “carefully dosed” people with cancer did not demonstrate that Anvirzel helped them. In the end, it was not approved by the FDA. Oleander leaf is on Germany’s regulatory agency list of unapproved herbs as it has not been proven to be safe or effective. However, all hope for oleander’s curative powers are not lost as the National Cancer Institute instigated a new trial of Anvirzel earlier this year.

Does Nerium AD Work As an Anti-Ager?

Since, so far, Nerium Biotechnology hasn’t made it big on the anti-cancer front, it seems to be trying its hand at anti-aging cosmetics. Fair enough, but I wasn’t able to find any evidence that nerium oleander extract works as a wrinkle-repair ingredient or any other form of anti-aging for the skin.

Furthermore, Wikipedia cites studies in which “a nerium oleander extract was applied to the skin of people with different dermal conditions, sensitive mass spectrometry based blood analyses were not able to detect the presence of cardiac glycosides such as oleandrin, indicating that these compounds are not readily absorbed through the skin.”

So, I am facing a  poisonous, failed (so far) cancer drug that doesn’t penetrate the skin and is a potential irritant – apparently skin irritation from contact with oleander has occurred and allergies are possible (source). As well as being unproven as an anti-ager (I haven’t even found a single other instance of nerium oleander being used in a cosmetic product), this doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence.

To read my review of Nerium AD after testing it, click here

For some recommended alternatives to Nerium AD, see:

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  • August 10, 2014

    by Carol

    I find that Nerium makes a lot of boasts about just having to use one product as a cure-all for your skin yet there are no clinical trials to back that up. There are unique testimonials but Nerium has only recently hit the anti-aging multi-level marketing scene after the FDA refused to approve it as a cancer drug. I would be very careful using anything the FDA has rejected, regardless of the intent of the original product or its subsequent use, especially if sold through MLM where there are no rules. Not to mention the company is NOT an approved member of the Direct Sales Association.

  • August 5, 2014

    by New chick

    Rhubarb, cashews, poinsettias - all have poisonous properties.
    There are SO MANY natural products that can give you a rash/cause adverse reactions. Can't just throw this under the bus because of a poisonous plant.

  • July 20, 2014

    by Christine

    Well, R+F products also contain toxic ingredients. Rejuvity is the only skin care line I know of that is truly clean and pure and nontoxic while at the same time employing the most advanced anti-aging skin care technology in the world. And the ingredients are posted right next to the product online so people can see what's in it right up front.

  • July 18, 2014

    by Jeana

    Just my 2 cents - Nerium has completely changed the way my skin looks and feels. I am not allergic and have no side effects. People who have known me for years are asking me what I'm doing to my skin and no - I'm not trying to sell it or get anyone to sign up. Just using the night and day cream. A lot of people are sensitive to skin products. Find one that works for you and use it.

  • June 10, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi Dawn, I did review the product and there is a link to it in large orange type at this end of this article. If you take a look, you will find that I too had an adverse allergic reaction. Here is the URL for my product test results: http://www.truthinaging.com/review/nerium-ad-night-cream-reviewed-and-rejected

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