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karavira - Nerium indicum Mill.

karavira :

Karavira - Plant with Flower Nerium indicum is evergreen shrub or small tree that grows up to 5 m. in height. The leaves are long, simple, whorled, linear-lance late, 9-14 cm in length with horizontal nerves. Leaves and flowers are used to treat malaria and as traditional medicine it induces the termination of embryo. The root powder is an external remedy for hemorrhoids and ulcers around genitals.


SUSRUTA quoted   ‘’KARAVIRA SOMA’’, [S.S.CI.29/5, 13, 20, 26] as one of the varieties of soma.        
         Caraka advocated Karavira for snana (bathing) and pana (internal administration). Susruta indicated Karavira ksara in Asmari treatment. But, Dhanvantri Nighantu specifically advised external application as is the case with Bhava prkasa nighantu.
          Rasa vagbhata quoted it among the Upavisas.

Taxonomical Classification

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Nerium
Species: Nerium indicum

Allied species:

. Family: - Apocyanaceae
      1. According to charaka:-       Kusthaghna.
                                                       Tikta skandha.
                                                       Moola visha varga.
                                                       Tikta varga.
     2. According to susruta:-         Laksadi gana.
                                                  Siro virechana varga.
                                                  Moola visha varga.
                                                 Tikta varga
     3. According to vagbhata:-     Laksadi gana.
4.     According to Bhavaprakasa Nighantu:-
                                                     Guduchyadi varga.
                                                     Vishopavisha varga.
5.     According to Raja Nighantu:-
6.     According to Shodala Nighantu:-
                                                     Karaviradi varga.
                                                     Paniya varga.
7.     According to Saligrama Nighantu:-
                                                    Guduchyadi varga.
8.     According to Madhanapala Nighantu:-
                                                     Haritakyadi varga.
9.     According to dhanvantri Nighantu;-   
                                                     Karavira dischaturda varga.
                                                     Upavishagana of Misrakadi sapthamovarga.                                 .
10.                        According to Nighantu Adarsham:-
                                                    Kutajadi varga.
11.                        According to Kaiyadeva Nighantu:-
                                                     Avasishta amsha of Aoushadi varga


Sanskrit: Karavira
English: Indian oleander, rose berry
Hindi: Kaner, Kanail.
Urdu: Kaner
Telugu: Erra ganneru, Jannerat.
Bengali: Karavi
Marathi: Kanher
Konkani: Dhavekaneri
Oriya: Kaniara, Kaniar
Gujarathi: Kanera, Karena, Karen
Tamil: Alari
Malayalam: Kanave eram, Arali, Kattalari
Kannada: Kanagilu, Kharjahar, Kanigale, Kanagile.
Punjabi: Kanir
Santal: Rajboka
Arabic: Defla, Difla, Sammul hibar
Spanish: Adelfa, Balandre, Laurel rosa, Pasua
Assamese: Diflee, Sammulhimar
Japanese: Kyochiku-to
Chinese: Jia zhu tao, Ou zhou jia zhu tao
French: Laurier rose, Oleandre
German: Oleander
Burma: Kalar hninsie
Nepal: Kaniha-swaa
Persian: Dephali
Sinhalese: Araliya


The white and red-flowered varieties are equated with Nerium indicum, Synonym: Nerium oleander;both possess similar properties. The yellow-flowered variety is equated with Thevetia peruviana.

Name and properties of white and red Karavira (Kaner) – Karavir, Svetapushpa, Satakumbha, aswamaraka are Sanskrit name of White Kaner.

Sanskrit Name of Red Kaner are Raktapushpa, chandata, and laguda. Both red and white Kaner varieties have bitter, pungenta nd astringent taste. These are helpful in healing of wounds and also helpful in Leprosy, Skin Infections, itching and worms. It acts as a poison in overdose and when impure.


The meaning of Arabi Sammul-himar and Pharasi Kharajahar is Gardhabha visha.
                 The meaning of Arabi Sammulmar is Sarpavisha.
                                                                                -Vanoushadi Nidarsika


Synonyms in Ayurveda: karavira, hyamaar, ashvamaar, vajimaar, mahameer, hayaghna, shatakunda, ashvarodhak, ashvaghna, haripriya, ashvamohak, red = raktaprasav, bhutathari, ganeshakusum

It is known as Ashwamarak in Sanskrit which means one that kills horse
  Hayamaraka or Asvamaraka:-
                     Due to poisonous nature it (karavira) kills the horses.
                     Its stem and branches possess many leaves.
                     It spread well in all directions (or) spreads very easily. It is famous for its property of killing horses.
                     Due to poisonous nature it appears very danger.
                     This plant contains innumerable leaves which is simile to scalp possessing innumerable hair follicles.
                     Even it produces many flowers at a time.
                                                                                       -Nighantu Adarsa

Rasa: Kashaya Katu Tikta
Guna: Laghu Ruksha Teeskhsna
Veerya: Ushna
Vipaka: Katu
Karma: Jwarahara-useful in fever, Kaphahara Krimighna Vatahara

Nerium indicum has many medicinal properties like bitter, acrid, astringent, anthelmintic, aphrodisiac, stomachic, febrifuge, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, cardio tonic, anticancer etc. Used in the treatment of cardiac asthma, renal and vesicle calculi, chronic stomach, skin related problems, snake bites joint pains, leprosy, cancer, ulcers etc.


Red lateritic or black or loamy soils with adequate drainage are suitable for nerium cultivation


Hard or semi hard woodcuttings of 60 cm length are used for planting. Their ends are buried inside the soil forming an arch.  Rooted cuttings can also be planted in the normal manner during June to July in 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm pits dug at 2 x 2 m spacing and filled with FYM, red earth and top soil.


Harvesting begins from the 4th month after planting.


Phytochemical screening of plant materials yielded alkaloids, tannins, flavonoids, amino acids, phenols, terpenoids, carbohydrates, loco anthocyanidine, steroids, and glycosides. 
- Study yielded glycoside, oleandrin; tannin; volatile oil, 0.25%.
- Yielded two principles: neriin and oleandrin, glucosides with properties similar to digitalin.
- The seeds yield fat 17.4%, phytosterin and l-strophanthin.
- Bark contains toxic glycosides: rosaginin and nerlin, volatile oil, fixed oil.
- Nerium odorums bark yielded two toxic bitter principles–neriodorin and neriodorein. Another toxic principle is karabin. Both karabin and neriodorin are probably resins, rather than glucosides.
- Roots yield a yellow, poisonous resin, tannic acid, wax, and sugar, but no alkaloid or volatile poison.
- Study isolated 14 compounds: a new pregnane, 14α,16-dihydroxy-3-oxo-γ-lactone-pregn-4-en-21-oic acid (16β,17α), and thirteen known cardiac glycosides:oleandrin, oleandrigenin, neriosid, nerigoside,16,17-didehydrosomalin, oleaside A, adynerin, odoroside-A , 3β-hydroxy-5β-carda-8β,14β,20,(22)-trienolid, odoroside H, deacetyloandrin, adynerigenin,3β-hydroxy-5α-8β,14β-epoxy-card-20(22)-enolid.
- Study of roots yielded carbohydrates, proteins, steroids, flavanoids, tannins, and phenolic compounds.
- GC-MS analysis of leave extract for alkaloid constitution yielded 8 alkaloid compounds: 2-cyclopenten-1-one, 2-hydroxy-3-methyl (1), 5-Hydrooxy methylfurfural (2), β-d-allopyranoside, methyle 6-dioxy-2-o methyl (3), 2-Cyclohexen-1-one, 4-(hydroxybutyle)-3.5.5- trimethyl (4), 3-Eicosene (5), 1-Monolinoleoyl-glycerol trimethylsilyl ether (6), 9.12.15-Octadecatrienoic acid,2,3bis[trimethylsilyl]oxy] propyl ester (7), and Octadecane, 3-ethyl-5-(2-ethylbutyl) (8). 
- Plant yielded a number a related cardiac glycosides similar in activity to digitalis. Main glycosides are oleandrin, neriin, cardenolides, bentiobiosyl, oleandrin and odoroside. Plant has yielded other pharmacologically active compounds, including folinerin, rosagenin, rutin, and oleandomycin. 
- Study of N. oleander yielded three new pregananes, 21-hydroxypregna-4,6-diene-3,12,20-trione (1), 20R-hydroxypregna-4,6-diene-3,12-dione (2), and 16β,17β-epoxy-12β-hydroxypregna-4,6-diene-3,20-dione (3), along with two known compounds, neridienone A (4) and neridienone B (5). (see study below) 
- Phyytochemical screening of flower extracts yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, proteins, tannins, saponins, sterols, carbohydrates, and phenols, with absence of quinones


  1.  Kasisadi Taila
  2. Manikya rasa
  3. Chitrakadi taila
  4. Brihat marichadi taila 

Parts used for medicinal purpose

Bark, Flower, Leaves, ,


30-125 mg of the drug in powder form.
*Dose should not exceed the higher limit.


Dipotassium editate as an antidote in poisoning from oleander and its chief glycoside, oleandrin.

ANTIDOTE for poison of karavira is HARITAKI.
                                        -Herbs in Vasavarajeeyam[Dr.K.Nishteswar].


              Karavira bija are purified, if they are steamed with cow’s milk for 3 hours by means of Dolayantra.

Commercial value:

N. indicum has proved its efficiency in different disease models. 


Leaves exstipulate, linear, lanceolate, 10-20 cm long and upto 2.5 cm wide, thick, dark green and shining above and dotted beneath, venation unicostate, reticulate with midrib being stout and the secondary veins arising in very large number, running parallel, stomata anamocytic


Petiole-transverse section of petiole shows a single layer of epidermis covered externally by thick cuticle, epidermal cells elongate to form unicellular, non-lignified and nonglandular hairs, a wide zone of cortex, composed of 4-7 layers of collenchymatous cells and a Wide zone of parenchyma follows the epidermis, parenchymatous cells thinwalled,
more or less isodiametric with intercellular spaces, some cells contain rosette crystals of calcium oxalate, petiole receives three vascular bundles from stem, central one large and crescent shaped while other two much smaller and somewhat circular present on each side of central vascular bundle, phloem present on upper side and xylem on lower Side With usual elements.

Lamina-transverse section of lamina shows an isobilateral structure, upper epidermis composed of penta or hexagonal parenchymatous cells, externally covered with thick cuticle, below upper epidermis. 2-3 layers of hypodermis present, palisada 3-4 layered composed of elongated and compactly arranged cells, vascular strands also seen in between palisade and spongy parenchyma, spongy parenchyma filled with chlorophyll, towards lower surface 2-3 layered palisade, below which parenchyma and lower epidermis present, lower epidermis also coated with the cuticle externally, in lower surface many pits possessing stomata, unicellular, non-glandular and non-lignified trichomes, rosette crystals of calcium oxalate present throughout lamina, average palisade ratio 4: 1.

Midrib-transverse section of midrib shows epidermis composed of a layer of cells, externally covered with cuticle, some epidermal cells on upper and lower sides form unicellular hairs, between epidermis and parenchyma 2-4 rows of thick-walled cells, more prominent towards lower side, some parenchymatous cells contain rosette crystals of calcium oxalate, laticifers found scattered singly or in groups of 2 in this region, beneath the vascular bundle a sn ip of fibres present, vascular bundle ‘U’ shaped, xylem being towards lower side and phloem towards the upper consists of tracheids, vessels and parenchyma, vessels with end-openings, rarely with side openings tracheids many with spiral, annular or reticulate thickenings on their walls.

Geographical distribution:

Nerium  indicum  is distributed  all  over  the  Philippines,  India  and  Nepal and Bangladesh found on  the ranges of 6500 feet, and is extensively cultivated  throughout the  greater part of India  as  well  as  in  China  and  Japan


Plains to High Altitude, Cultivated

Plant conservation:

least concern

General Use:

Leaves and flowers are also used to treat malaria and as traditional medicine it induces the termination of embryo. The root powder is an external remedy for hemorrhoids and ulcers around genitals. Leaves and bark is treated as insecticide, rat poison and parasitic. Kaner also used as an ornamental shrub.

Therapeutic Uses:

Hrdroga, Jvara, Krmiroga, Kandu, Kustha, Netraroga, Vrana,Tamakasvasa

Systemic Use:

It can act as abortifacient: causing abortion.
It is good in relieving pain.
It is also useful in prevention or treatment of cancer.
It is benefits in reduction of inflammation.
It is also act as antibacterial, antiseptic agent.
It also provides relief as it is good antiulcer.
It has Bradycardic effect as it can slow the heart rate.
It has effects as a CNS Depressant which slow brain activity.
It can induce vomiting required in certain cases.
It is an Emmenagogue which can stimulate or increases menstrual flow.
It is good fungicide, insecticide, larvicide, parasiticide, rodenticide.




- Leaves and flowers are considered cardiotonic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic and expectorant.
- Whole plant believed to have anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, sedating, and anthelmintic effects.
- Reported biologic activities to include anti-inflammatory, sedative, anti-bacterial, cardiac, anti-neoplastic and anthelmintic.

Clinical trials:

2.Comparative AntiMicrobial studies of Ethanolic extract of leaves of Nerium indicum & Martynia annua / N.P.S. Sengar et al / Department of Pharmacy, Barkatullah University, Bhopal (India), Sagar Institute of Research & Technology, Ayodhya by Pass Road, Bhopal, (India)

3. New oligosaccharides prepared by acid hydrolysis of the polysaccharides from Nerium indicum Mill and their anti-angiogenesis activities / Ke Hu et al / Carbohydrate Research, 6 January 2009; Volume 344, Issue 2: pp 198-203 / doi:10.1016/j.carres.2008.10.019


1. LEAD, CADMIUM AND COPPER CONCENTRATIONS IN LEAVES OF Nerium oleander L. AND Robinia pseudoacacia L. AS BIOMONITORS OF ATMOSPHERIC POLLUTION / Gokce Kaya, Nuh Okumus and Mehmet Yaman* / PSP Volume 19 – No 4a. 2010 Fresenius Environmental Bulletin

2. Screening of Biological Activities (Antioxidant, Antibacterial and Antitumor) of Nerium oleander Leaf and Flower Extracts / Pegah Namian, Taravat Talebi, Karimollah Ghasemi Germi* & Fahmideh Shabani / American Journal of Phytomedicine and Clinical Therapeutics, 1(4), 2013, pp 378-384

3. Antihyperlipidemic Potential of Polyphenol and Glycoside Rich Nerium oleander Flower against Triton WR-1339-Induced Hyperlipidemia in Experimental Sprague Dawley Rats / V. Gayathri, S. Ananthi, and Hannah R. Vasanthi / Journal of Chemistry, Volume 2013 (2013) /


Its LIKELY UNSAFE for anyone to take oleander by mouth. But oleander is especially dangerous for people with the following conditions:

Children: Oleander is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in children. Taking the oleander leaf, oleander leaf tea, or oleander seeds has led to deadly poisonings.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking oleander by mouth is LIKELY UNSAFE as it might cause an abortion or cause birth defects. There isnt enough information to know whether or not it is safe for pregnant or breast-feeding women to apply oleander to the skin. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Too little potassium or too much calcium (electrolyte imbalance): Oleander affects the heart. An electrolyte imbalance also affects the heart. Its especially dangerous to use oleander if you have an electrolyte imbalance.

Heart disease: Dont use oleander to treat heart disease without the supervision of a healthcare professional. Its too dangerous to self-medicate.

Toxicity studies:

Oleander is LIKELY UNSAFE for anyone to take by mouth. It can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, headache, stomach pain, serious heart problems, and many other side effects. Taking oleander leaf, oleander leaf tea, or oleander seeds has led to deadly poisonings.

Oleander is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when applied to the skin. It can be absorbed into the body in some people. Touching oleander sap can cause a rash.

Karavira is one of the 8 moola visha’s mentioned in susruta kalpa sthana [S.k.2/4]. In Bhavaprakasa, Karavira is placed under Upavisha varga.
         Fatal Dose                          : 8-10 seeds.
         Fatal Period                        : 24 hours.
         Signs and Symptoms          : [ref :-Anupana manjali]
                                                      1. Burning sensation in koshta (GIT).
                                                      2. Painful vamana and virechana.
                                                      3. Akshepaka vata.
         Management                       :
       1. The above complications can be managed by the internal administration of curd mixed with sugar repeatedly.                            [Anupana manjali].
      The above drugs are to be given with arka moola tvak churna.
2. Internal administration of Haritaki kashaya

Use in other system of medicine:

- Herpes zoster (skin): Crush leaves, mix with oil and apply on lesions. Do not apply on raw surface. Milky juice of the plant is irritating. Caution: Not to be taken internally.
- Herpes simplex: Mix 1 cup of chopped leaves and bark with 2 tablespoons of oil. Apply to lesions 3 times daily.
- Ringworm: Chop a foot long branch and mix with 1 cup chopped fresh young leaves. Mix the juice with 5 drops of fresh coconut oil. Apply 3 times daily.
- Snake bites: Pound 10 leaves and a piece of branch. Apply poultice to the wound.
- Root used, locally and internally, by women in western and southern India and in the central Malay Peninsula for suicide and for procuring criminal abortion.
- Past of bark of the roots is applied externally for ringworm.
- Used in leprosy, skin eruptions, and boils.
- In the Punjab and Cashmere areas, roots are used for asthma.
- Leaves used in the treatment of malaria and dysmenorrhea; also used as abortifacient.
- Roots, made into paste with water, used for hemorrhoids.
- Leaves and bark used externally for eczema, snake bites and as insecticide; internally, used for epilepsy.
- Dried leaves used as sternutatory.
- Infusion of leaves and fruit used a cardiac regulator.
- In Morocco, fresh leaves applied to tumors to hasten suppuration.
- In traditional Chinese medicine, the flowers and leaves have been used to stimulate the cardiac muscles, relieve pain and eliminate blood stasis.
- Skin care: Formulated as age-defying skin care product.


The Nerium indicum is an evergreen shrub growing to 4m by 4m. It is in leaf all year, in flower from June to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite. The major components of it are oleander, neriin and oleandrin. The bark contains toxic glucosides, rosaginin and nerrin, volatile oil, fixed oil, etc . The leaves and the flowers are cardio-tonic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic and expectorant  Cardio tonic, leaves also used as cutaneous eruption to destroy maggots infesting wounds, for homeopathic medicine 

Photos of karavira -

KEY WORDS: Nerium indicum , karavira

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