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Ther Drug Monit. 2003 Jun;25(3):323-30.

Activated charcoal is effective but equilibrium dialysis is ineffective in removing oleander leaf extract and oleandrin from human serum: monitoring the effect by measuring apparent digoxin concentration.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Texas-Houston Medical School, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Accidental poisoning from oleander leaf or oleander tea can be life threatening. The authors studied the effectiveness of activated charcoal and equilibrium dialysis in removing oleander leaf extract and commercially available oleandrin as well as oleandrigenin, the active components of oleander plant, from human serum. Oleander leaf extract was prepared in distilled water and drug-free serum was supplemented with the extract. Then serum was treated with activated charcoal at room temperature and an aliquot was removed at 0 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and finally 30 minutes to study the presence of oleander extract by measuring the apparent digoxin concentration using the FPIA for digoxin. The authors observed effective removal of oleander extract by activated charcoal. When the authors supplemented other drug-free serum pools with pure oleandrin or oleandrigenin and then subsequently treated them with activated charcoal, the authors observed complete removal of digoxin-like immunoreactivity at the end of 30 minutes' treatment. When drug-free serum pool supplemented with either oleander leaf extract, oleandrin, or oleandrigenin was passed through a small column packed with activated charcoal, the authors observed almost no apparent digoxin concentration following the passage through the column indicating that activated charcoal is very effective in removing oleander from human serum in vitro. In contrast, when serum pools containing either oleander leaf extract or oleandrin were subjected to equilibrium dialysis against phosphate buffer at pH 7.4, the authors observed no significant reduction in apparent digoxin concentration even after 24 hours. The authors conclude that activated charcoal is effective but equilibrium dialysis is ineffective in removing oleander leaf extract from human serum.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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