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Is Nerium a toxin, snake oil, or an anti-aging marvel?

NeriumAD is a topical cream (sold by multi level marketing) that claims to be a “true breakthrough in anti-aging skincare.” The efficacy (and hopefully safety) studies quoted by the manufacturer were conducted by ST&T Research and have not been submitted to any peer-review publication listed in PubMed. Keep in mind that I use the term study loosely, because when something isn’t published and you can’t read it yourself you are really in a danger zone. A poorly done study is a dangerous thing and an unpublished study that no one can access is about as good as saying, “My mom’s friend’s cousin said it’s good and helped lots of people.”

However, the actual effectiveness of NeriumAD isn’t really a concern to me. People do all kinds of things that they think helps their wrinkles and as long as the products are safe and a doctor isn’t promoting something worthless as a safe, effective treatment then who am I to get involved in cosmetics?

Nerium_oleander_flowers_leavesExcept Nerium Oleander (oleander), the plant that the company claims is the source for its “patent-pending age-defying active ingredientNAE-8 is toxic. Not toxic in a poison ivy kind of way, but toxic in a stop-your-heart-and-be-the-cause-of-death-for-people-and-livestock-alike kind of way. Poisoning from oleander is a particularly common toxicological emergency in South Asian countries. My neighborhood is filled with oleander and the first thing I did when I moved in was tell my kids about the dangers.

All parts of oleander are poisonous, the roots, the bark, the leaves, and the flowers. Smoke from burning the plant is toxic. There are two cases of indirect oleander toxicity from eating snails! The snails were contaminated by oleander through regular garden contact and then adsorbed the plant juice via their own slime. (My first reaction was “gross” and my second was “nature is freaky” and my third was “wow.”) All craziness aside, how much oleander juice can snails really absorb? (i.e. even a very little bit of oleander is very dangerous).

The product “monograph” from NeriumAD says, “The Nerium Oleander plant has been used for centuries by traditional herbal practitioners, but due to various components of the plant it has also been associated with negative stories.” Well, that’s a master class in white washing. Yes, oleander has been used for years, and lots of people got sick. Some died. Some still do. People have also used it for years in suicide attempts. It is not safe. In the 90s someone tried to get a supplement with Nerium Oleander passed by the FDA and they were denied because they submitted no safety evidence and, to quote the FDA,

FDA has carefully considered the information in your submission, and the agency has significant concerns about the evidence on which you rely to support your conclusion that a dietary supplement containing N. oleander, when used under the conditions recommended or suggested in the labeling of your product, will reasonably be expected to be safe. N oleander is well-known to be a poisonous plant. All parts of the oleander plant are poisonous to man and animals and serious adverse effects are associated with ingestion, inhalation, and contact of mucus membranes with oleander or oleander extracts. Adverse effects include, among other things, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, cardiovascular symptoms, and peripheral neuritis. The most serious effects that are associated with exposure to oleander result from the cardiotonic actions of the cardiac glycosides in oleander. The main cardiac glycosides are oleandrin, folinerin, digitoxigenin, and oleandringen.

Oh, and the “negative stories” alluded to in the NeriumAD monograph? Well, those are on Medline and in reputable journals of toxicology, cardiology, and emergency medicine detailing the toxicity of the plant and how to recognize and treat oleander poisoning.

So where does that leave us?

NeriumAD is made from a highly poisonous plant and there is zero safety data. It is possible like many supplements and unregulated products that NeriumAD contains no active ingredients and then of course it would probably be safe.

It is possible that the makers of NeriumAD have found some unique way to neutralize the cardiotoxic oleandrin, folinerin, digitoxigenin, and oleandringen and still retain some other “anti-aging” benefit of an extract. Without published studies it is not possible to know. Believing the company hype about safety is a massive leap of faith considering they dismisses the cardiotoxicty as “negative stories.”

However, it is also possible that NeriumAD contains a cardiac toxin and maybe it’s relatively safe for a healthy woman who weighs 100 lbs or more to apply to her face (again, without studies, who knows), but what if that woman had a heart problem that would make her even more vulnerable to the cardiotoxicty? Or what if her 2-year-old smeared it all over her body or ate it? Two weeks ago I had some kind of cardiac event (probably just from a common virus) that slowed my heart rate to the high 30s/low 40s for a few days and caused an arrhythmia. What if I had been a regular user of NeriumAD? Would I have been more vulnerable? Remember, two people became ill from eating snails who absorbed oleander sap/juice/or whatever snails absorb through their slime. It doesn’t take much. What if someone accidentally used it as toothpaste (about 1% of calls to poison control centers are from people who accidentally used noon-oral care products for brushing) or as a lubricant for sex? (people do this, they grab random creams and liquids, sometimes because it’s dark and sometimes because they are just desperate for lube, and sometimes because they want to experiment).

To promote a skin product that purports to be an extract of a potentially lethal substance without safety data while advertising that it is somehow safe because it was used by “herbal practitioners” and dismissing a wealth of data on poisonings as “negative stories” is so ludicrous it’s beyond belief.

If NeriumAD is safe then publishing the safety data should be no hardship at all. Then again, maybe they don’t need safety data because it’s all glycerin, aloe, and brown rice powder.

Without studies you don’t really know anything at all.

*Update, May 27, 2014*

Given the amount of pure vitriol and personal attacks from Nerium supporters comments will be very closely curated and flagged as spam and IP addresses blocked for any comments that are hate based. A personal attack on me is not a counter argument to safety concerns. In fact, ad hominem attacks typically mean the exact opposite.

I find it hard to believe that personal attacks on me are coming from users of the product who love it. To the people that sell Nerium, if there is safety data publish it in a dermatology journal. Otherwise, go spam elsewhere.

 

 

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Discussion

55 thoughts on “Is Nerium a toxin, snake oil, or an anti-aging marvel?

  1. Do Your Research!

    This is a letter from Dennis Knocke, CEO of Nerium Skincare

    “I just returned from our annual visit to the North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology (NACCT) meeting in Las Vegas. As usual, we exhibited and shared product safety information and provided NeriumAD Age-Defying Treatment product samples to the attending MD, PhD, Phar.D., FDA, FBI Toxicologist/Pharmacologist and Poison Control Center Directors, etc.

    We were able to organize a NeriumAD Safety Panel Presentation/Discussion at the meeting. The panelists included five independent MD, Pediatric MD, PhD, Phar.D., and professors of Pharmacology and Toxicology, one a former Medical Officer for the Food and Drug Administration. Needless to say, it was a very distinguished panel with the ability and credibility to speak to safety; and recognizable individuals to the members of the North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology. The presentation/discussion included the review of Dr. Newman’s research and ST&T clinical data, a review of the data base of the American Association of Poison Control Centers as it relates to Nerium oleander, comments about the confusion associated with the generic term “oleander,” comments about what is credible information on the Internet and myths about Nerium oleander, toxicity of NeriumAD as it relates to children, comparison to other safe products that contain toxic compounds, and the final consensus on the safety of NeriumAD. The conclusion of the panel was that NeriumAD was safe. I will share an overview of the presentations, discussion, and comments of this panel.

    Since you are aware of Dr. Newman’s and ST&T’s research, I will start with commentary pertaining to toxic plants, where one panelist (a director from one of the Poison Control Centers, who has studied the National Poison Control Center database of all reports from plant-based poison incidents) commented specifically about Nerium oleander. He shared that the term “oleander” needs to be put in a generic term. There is Nerium oleander (used in NeriumAD), which is often mistaken for a different plant called Thevetia peruviana (referred to as yellow oleander), This yellow-flowered plant is responsible for a large number of toxic reports and is often confused as oleander in a generic sense. So when you hear “Nerium oleander,” you may confuse it with a plant that has a much more poisonous, toxic reputation, when it actually is not poisonous. This toxicologist’s word of advice was to not believe everything you read on the Internet relating to plants, particularly relating to Nerium oleander.

    He referenced a number of myths that circulate about Nerium oleander and have been referenced on the Internet. He referred to these examples as strictly myths. He shared his research on a rather large database that contains case studies of plant poisonings from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. He shared the unintentional and intentional data and put the data in perspective. In about 2.3 million plant exposures over the last 25 years, there have been only 43 deaths due to plant ingestion in the United States. None of them have involved Nerium oleander, and there are absolutely no fatalities associated.

    A summary of the comments of another Pediatric MD at a prominent children’s hospital and Professor of Toxicology and Pharmacology are as follows. The amount of oleander in the entire container of NeriumAD is a non-toxic dose, even to children. He went on to estimate that a one-year-old child could ingest the entire contents of 400 bottles of NeriumAD and it would still remain a non-toxic dose of NeriumAD. In addition, he commented that in all his years of experience, young children do not ingest significant volumes of creams and ointments. He shared that in his 40 years of private practice and experience with his associated Poison Control Center, he is not aware of even one death of a child by ingestion of creams or ointments, as young children are just not wired to ingest large quantities of these types of substances. He proceeded to comment on the NeriumAD container design and shared that the container presented a daunting challenge for the extraction of significant volumes of cream by adults, let alone young children.

    Another MD, PhD, Medical Pharmacologist and Toxicologist shared a quote from Paracelsus (1493-1541), who said, “All things are poison and nothing is without poison.” However, “the dose makes the poison.” He noted that humans use and consume daily foods which are known to contain trace amounts of natural carcinogens and toxins (apricots, apples, tea, cocoa, coffee, cherries, black pepper, mushrooms, etc.). The risk is relative and it is “the amount consumed” that matters. He presented some examples of food containing toxins, such as potatoes and tomatoes, which contain Gycoalkaloids and Solenines. In addition, almonds, apricots, and cherries contain Cyanogenic Glycosides, castor beans contain Ricin, puffer fish contain Fugu, rhubarb contains xalates, and mushrooms contain Muscarine.

    He also noted that Botox is one of the most toxic chemicals we have, but it has been possible to adjust the dose, allowing it to be used by thousands of individuals. He went on to cover ED50, TD50, LD50, Dose/Response Curve, Therapeutic Index, Margins of Safety, etc. At the end of the day, he commented that, “As a result of the studies, the study design, and data captured, NeriumAD has no evidence of toxicity and no absorption into the systemic circulation.” He concluded that the NeriumAD product is perfectly safe to use.

    Posted by Timbo | February 7, 2014, 6:02 am
    • I’m sure the CEO of a company has no bias at all!

      Botox is an unfair comparison, there are a multitude of published safety studies.

      Publish the safety data if it’s so amazing. End of discussion.

      Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | February 7, 2014, 6:33 am
      • I’ve learned a lot since I went to University to get my PharmD, and Biochemistry degree. Mostly what I’ve come to find out is the Scientific Method prepared me to conclude is I do not know what I do not know and there is a lot I do not know. Also I’ve learned that being dogmatic is probably going to lead me to a dead end pathway without an open mind willing to learn about what I do not know. Oh, and there is a lot more of what I do not know than what I do know.

        Posted by coachronforrester | May 20, 2014, 11:08 am
    • I find it very suspicious that NOT ONE NAME was given in reference to who all these doctors, professors, etc. were. That’s not very credible.

      Posted by Donna Hagar | June 24, 2014, 6:24 pm
    • Really, Timbo? Are you that gullible? There are no actual names given!! Use. Your. Brain. Haven’t you ever written a research paper? Would you find these credible sources? Come on, man. It’s not that hard.

      Posted by alexis | July 24, 2014, 6:40 pm
  2. Also note that NONE of these experts, nor their supposedly reputable medical facilities are NAMED, (therefore, who can say there was really any meeting at all? Who will be accountable, for their so-called comments?), except for the 500+ year old expert Paracelsus. Prove it! with factual, verifiable names, not ‘story-telling’.

    Posted by thinkaboutlt@yahoo.com | February 23, 2014, 9:07 am
  3. They always found witches during the Salem Witch Hunts. Even if they weren’t really witches. You have plenty of evidence that suggests NeriumAD is perfectly fine, but you keep looking for something negative, that just isn’t there. It’s like an Athiest and a Christian trying to battle it out. Oh, and NeriumAD extract is Patented as an Antioxidant. So apparently the government let’s them patents poison as an antioxidant. LMAO

    Posted by Collin | March 5, 2014, 5:44 pm
    • A patent does not equal safety. The government lets you patent just about anything. Gun mechanisms could be patented. Tobacco processing could be patented. Your argument, such as it is, doesn’t hold.
      And I’m assuming you’ve read the latest research that anti oxidants can be bad in medicinal doses?

      Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | March 6, 2014, 7:56 am
  4. Find me one case of someone being harmed by the NeriumAD product or it’s proprietary ingredient. You can’t. You can conjecture all you want, but that’s all it is. I noticed you did not comment on the Doctors and their findings of Nerium to NOT be poisonous video. Or their myth-busting report that NO one has died from Nerium Oleander poisoning as you fear-mongering Salem witch hunters will suggest or want people to believe. The extract was being used by Dr. Robert Newman from MD Anderson. How about skincare product formulator, Don Smothers and his findings about NeriumAD? He’s formulated over 40,000 skincare products and he has nothing but Positive things to say about Nerium. I wish people would do a little more research (like the ones who actually formulated the Nerium product) instead of basing their opinion of the product from “old-wives-tales” and pure conjecture.

    Posted by Collin | March 9, 2014, 2:06 pm
    • Collin,

      I typically only allow links to reputable sources of medial information, not to people who have a vested financial interest in product.

      Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | March 10, 2014, 8:57 pm
    • Actually, my sister had a horrible reaction to Nerium as she used it on her face. She stopped using it. Face cleared. Used it again the following month with the same red, fiery, massive breakout. She stopped using it altogether. Face is fine. Here’s the kicker, though. She is one of their distributors and just “earned” her Lexus. Go figure.

      Posted by Kathy | May 1, 2014, 10:27 pm
    • Keep burying your head in the sand! Start using your brain and you will find many people who have had terrible reactions to this so called “safe” product. How about the people who have broken out in cyst type sores on their face? How about the woman who was using Nerium every single day and while jogging suffered a heart attach and passed away? How about the people who post on the nerium facebook wall and ask why they are breaking out and “your” people use the excuse that they have impurities and to just keep using the product. If your breaking out using anything new the right thing to say is STOP using it! All these Nerium reps are just thinking of dollar signs and nothing else. This company has a cult like group and ANYONE with a differing opinion is slammed by the neriumites….pretty pitiful~

      Posted by curlygirl | June 25, 2014, 12:49 pm
  5. So if it had a beautiful study then you would believe it?

    “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.” – See more at: http://thedailysmug.blogspot.com/2013/12/nejm-editor-no-longer-possible-to.html#.dpuf

    Posted by steventothemax | March 10, 2014, 8:32 pm
    • I take it you sell Nerium, hence your interest in my post.

      There are plenty of bad studies in medicine, many of which have drawn my ire. If you had taken the time to read a few of my posts instead of just trolling on behalf of Nerium you would know what I think of poorly done research.

      However, the facts stand that Nerium claims to be made with an extract from a poisonous plant yet there is no published safety data. It’s no different than saying I have a cream made from poison ivy extract, but hey, just believe me that it’s safe!

      I suspect the lack of data means that there is no Nerium Oleander in the product, but again, without data it’s hard to know. If it as great as the multi level marketers claim then if it doesn’t contain Nerium Oleander extract no one will care.

      And BTW, saying that some studies are bad is a poor debating technique (general a sign that your argument has serious flaws) and a dismal attempt to distract yourself from requesting safety data on a product that claims to be made from a poison.

      Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | March 10, 2014, 8:54 pm
      • Yes I sell Nerium. Just like you hate network marketing. So may’be everything we both say about the subject is useless.

        You claim to do research yet you don’t even mention that there are two types of Oleander. Yellow (seriously toxic) and Nerium which has never had a documented poisoning. If it is Nerium Oleander in your neighborhood you gave your children the wrong information before looking at the proper research. Seems like their might be a pattern.

        You should probably start by watching http://www.neriumsafety.com

        As a doctor you also know that something can be “thoroughly” studied for safety, but when many people in the general public take it then some serious issues arise. Yet the company has sold over $400 million dollars without anyone suing them for damages from such a toxic product.

        Since your probably took basic biochemistry before 1994 I would suggest that you go back and study up on oligosacharides. You will find these non-toxic sugars (present in both Aloe and Nerium Oleander) have stunning immunomodulatory benefits. But of course you already knew that since they are present in breast milk.

        Posted by steventothemax | March 10, 2014, 9:16 pm
      • Ny quotes on Nerium Oleander are from the FDA and medical journals of toxicology.

        You are banned for misuse of science and spam.

        Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | March 11, 2014, 7:14 am
      • I’m considering selling Nerium, reading all this, I am quite confused. Dr. Jen, do you use anything at all (anything you eat, touch your skin, inhale) that you have not researched? I mean, have you tried Nerium before or after your “research”? I’m just curious besides this Nerium if you you are scared of the world when you look into things like this?

        Posted by Andrea | July 19, 2014, 3:05 pm
      • I wouldn’t consider using something extracted/made from a known cardiac toxin until it was well tested. That’s kind of the point of the post.

        Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | July 19, 2014, 3:17 pm
  6. This chain of comments is very interesting. I also found an article written by someone by the name of “Mike Taylor” that purports to be a “blasting” of Nerium AD by someone who is supposedly a licensed esthetician (Rachel A. Sauer, L.E.). Rachel makes several comments against Nerium AD, most of which mirror the comments/concerns expressed herein. For every “licensed esthetician” who condemns or questions the safety/effectiveness of Nerium AD, I can likely show you 2 – 3 other licensed esthetician, medical doctor or naturopathic doctor (all of whom HAVE reviewed the research on their own) who will wholeheartedly support and recommend Nerium AD (and no, not all of them are distributors!). While the research may not have been “published” in anything as prestigious as the New England Journal of Medicine, it IS published and available. By the way, last time I checked, the New England Journal of Medicine is, by its very name, for MEDICINE and medicinal research! Since Nerium AD is NOT a medicine, I wouldn’t think the research would be published therein!

    It is exactly the same situation as when you take the exact same scientific criteria and have it examined and investigated by two different scientists — both of whom start out with two very different points of view and reference — and those two scientists will come up with two entirely different analyses — solely based upon their original point of view!! In other words, if you start out believing that something is no good, you will likely never be convinced otherwise. Likewise for someone who starts out thinking/believing that it might be possible that something is good! There is a very old saying — “A man convinced against his will is of the SAME opinion still!”

    Posted by Josie | April 17, 2014, 1:35 pm
    • A lot of dermatology and cosmetic plastic surgery journals publish articles about skin care products. If a cosmetic dermatologist or plastic surgeons recommends the product they get a big boost.

      However, you can’t claim that doctors read the research and say it is sound. That’s like saying my grandmas’ friend said it was great. That is hearsay and unless the data is available in published form for review by all who are interested it simply does not exist. A poor study is at times worse than no study and that is why peer review exists.

      I am sure many skin care journals would welcome the opportunity to publish safety data on Nerium. If the studies exist and they are sound, why the reluctance to submit them? It makes no sense.

      Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | May 3, 2014, 8:08 am
      • I find it funny that if someone doesn’t agree with you then they are banned for “spam” … Note- I don’t sell or support nerium, was simply reading your article and noticed the one sided comments.

        Posted by Bailey Meade | July 2, 2014, 8:05 am
      • The banned comments contain personal attacks. Once you do that, you’re flagged as spam. If people have a constructive or even a non offensive other opinion it will get posted. However, I also have a policy re: evidence based medicine and so comments that cross that line typically don’t get posted.

        Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | July 2, 2014, 8:15 am
  7. Thank you for your review. It is difficult for anyone to get real honest data about this product from a impartial source, as searching for information on this product through Google is seriously compromised by the number of brand partners who have SEOed their web pages up the ying-yang. As a result, Google’s first page results are so-called review and authority sites by brand partners who have every interest in distracting truth and providing false reviews. For what? To get some extra money. It’s always about the money.

    This is extraordinary frustrating for those of us who just want real data and real results from real people with nothing to gain, or lose. And, as it happens, Google is just full of skin care sites with each one offering the latest scientific breakthrough. It is a game designed to suck in aging baby-boomers, desperately clinging to the last vestiges of youth and one of THE most abused topics on the Internet. Nerium is just one of many, with the incentive being getting rich while retaining youth.

    Nerium claims to be safe and perhaps it is safe enough, although one thing which makes me pause is that “Nerium International” is launching in Canada as Optimera, after adjusting the ingredients slightly to pass through Canadian government standards. My question to Nerium proponents and other Kool-Aid drinkers is, if Nerium is what it claims to be, why did it need to reformulate the product for release in Canada?

    And actually, the safety issue notwithstanding, does it actually work? I can point to dozens of skin care products with before-and-afters. Since Google is flawed in this quest, I choose to look at the reviews at Amazon as one source. The reviews were extreme, with multitude of 5-stars from obvious brand partners to 1-star from disappointed users, with very little in-between.

    Surprised? Neither am I.

    Posted by Cam | April 17, 2014, 5:16 pm
  8. Typo second paragraph: *extraordinarily* – I need a good editor ;)

    Posted by Cam | April 17, 2014, 5:25 pm
  9. Sounds like every color/type is toxic. Which is not what the CEO himself claimed. I agree with the last statement of this article. “If NeriumAD is safe then publishing the safety data should be no hardship at all. Then again, maybe they don’t need safety data because it’s all glycerin, aloe, and brown rice powder.
    Without studies you don’t really know anything at all”. Exactly. If it isn’t toxic, it’s solely because it lacks the claimed miracle ingredients and you’re using a $100 bottle of Lubriderm. But people are buying and you’re making some money. Very little I’m sure, but still some money.

    Read on:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3089829/

    Posted by Hmm | April 19, 2014, 1:00 am
  10. I thank you for putting things into perspective. I have done my research into this “product” and whole heartedly agree that it is dangerous. I read the name and said to myself “that sounds familiar!” I’m not a doctor and I live nowhere near where any type of oleander grows but a quick Google search on Nerium popped up the Nerium Oleander.

    I know oleander is poisonous. I only know that after reading White Oleander by Janet Fitch.

    My friend hocks the stuff and the “network marketing” (multi-level marketing). I understand he likes the support but when I told him that the main ingredient is poisonous he scoffed. He said that they “removed all of the poisonous parts.” What you said has just backed up my views on the matter and kept my perspective. Thank you!

    Posted by Victoria | April 29, 2014, 8:36 pm
  11. You may be a doctor, but I seriously question your motives and your lack of information about Nerium AD! and the the connection to the patented NAE-8 Extract. Do you know what is the level of Nerium Oleander in each bottle? Do you know of any cases where people have been hospitalized due to the use of Nerium AD! and the oleander? Do you know anything in regards to the extensive clinical studies done by Dr. Newmann and the Nerium Biotech Lab? Do you know how many human deaths there have been in history from anyone coming in contact directly with the Nerium Oleander plant?

    There is so much fear mongering for no valid reason. Documentation beats speculation; go back and see all the clinicals and then make the correct judgment. What is worse you banned people that effectively counter prove your arguments. LOL! Hope mine stays.

    By the way doctor, did you know that water can also poison you. Here is your research: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-drinking-too-much-water-can-kill/. Quickly everyone stop drinkin water!… LMAO! what a joke.

    Posted by Ricky M | May 1, 2014, 2:16 pm
    • Oh my you Nerium sales people are hilarious (and poor readers and even worse students of science).

      I can’t know about the “extensive clinical studies” because they are not published. If it isn’t published, it doesn’t exist. How can you question my lack of information about the product when there are no safety studies! That’s the point of my post!

      If you really read the piece that you responded to you would see numerous links to articles about deaths and injury related the Oleander.

      Anything can kill you, that is true. But water is not poisonous, it is inappropriate use of water that kills you. Oleander is a cardiac poison, so there is no appropriate use. So your water is dangerous analogy is poorly constructed and not applicable.

      If you make a product that you claim contains a plant extract known to be cardiotoxic it is on you to prove that it is safe, not me. If you have the studies and the product is safe, publishing them should be a breeze! So what’s the fuss? Get them published. Otherwise, the lack of publication leads one to conclude that A) there are no studies that would ever be accepted in a peer reviewed journal (and that’s a pretty low bar, because you just really have to be able to click the “return” button enough times to get someone to accept an article these days) B) Nerium doesn’t contain any oleander and so showing that might affect sales as the very product name is derived from the plant.

      My post is not fear mongering at all. It states the clinical data on oleander toxicity (the plant that your product claims to be made from), the dangers of even very minute exposures, and the fact that there is no published safety data. If I made a skin product from poison ivy people would want proof that it didn’t cause a rash, the only difference is many people are unaware of how toxic oleander really is.

      Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | May 3, 2014, 8:00 am
      • People are unaware of the toxicity of oleander because it’s a pretty name. These are very deep people that back this product, obviously.

        Posted by alexis | July 24, 2014, 6:27 pm
  12. RE: Nerium AD = I’m curious about it’s safety and effectiveness. Having worked for a handful of years in a major medical school research environment, my experience tells me that doctors and researchers usually don’t put their names on things that could be harmful, but publish research to share information to gain clarity and to prevent further disease and improve medical treatment and protocols, etc. I just watched http://www.neriumsafety.com/ and it strikes me that these doctors and researchers wouldn’t put their reputations on the line and agree to make a video to be seen my millions only to give inaccurate or misleading information, because they could be held accountable for giving false information, and being accused of malpractice is something doctors don’t take kindly to. Dr. Jen, while I appreciate your intention to seek the truth, I’m not clear on why you can’t find published findings or what they would tell you, that these doctors aren’t saying. Is it possible that because it’s a skin care product and because the extraction method is patented, that it wouldn’t be published in a medical journal? Do major cosmetic firms publish their findings? MD Anderson in Texas is a highly respected cancer center. Many of these doctors in this video work there and/or have had highly respected positions in public health in various parts of the country. In order for it to have a patent, product study information would have to be published somewhere. So to condemn this product seems extreme, and yet to accept any product without listening for it’s legitimacy is also foolish. At some point, we the individual need to weigh the pros and cons and seek out answers and decide for ourselves.

    Posted by Patricia S | May 5, 2014, 7:24 am
    • Thank you for pointing out that doing a video about a product is advertising and publishing a paper (not done) is science. Any researcher or physician would know the difference.

      BTW MD Anderson has said time and time again that they have nothing to do with Nerium. They have not given it their stamp of approval nor did they develop it.

      Again, if you claim that your product is made from a plant that is cardiotoxic then you have to prove that it isn’t. Promotional videos don’t count! If you want to put a product that claims to be made from a cardiotoxic plant on your face, have at it!

      Promoting a skin care product that does not require FDA approval is not the practice of medicine, so your cry of a false malpractice claim doesn’t wash. It might be a good idea to look up the definitions of research, advertising, malpractice before you try and discuss them. Also, it’s a good idea to look up the fact that a patent has nothing to do with publishing. Every pharmaceutical in the US was once patented and required publications to get approval! If the safety data exists, as you claim, it should be easy to publish somewhere, the recipe isn’t required you know. Really. Failure to publish means A) said safety studies do not exist B) said safety studies do exist but do not show what the makers want it to C) said safety studies exist but someone is too lazy to submit them.

      Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | May 12, 2014, 9:05 pm
  13. Thanks for the information, Dr. Jen. You seem to be an extremely intelligent, informed (and patient – yikes!) woman. After several months of use, I recently cancelled my recurring order of Nerium night cream (it wasn’t working, anyway). A friend who sells another beauty line, with which I’ve been very pleased, mentioned the concerns with the ingredients in Nerium, Several other friends sell Nerium, so I wanted to be prepared for when they try to twist my arm to go back to it. Your blog here has been very useful.

    Posted by Heather M. | May 21, 2014, 9:45 am
  14. Dear Nerium Sherry, just in case you come back here your comments were deleted because they were rude and had little to do with the post. Vitriol isn’t allowed. With a name like Nerium Sherry one does have to wonder if you do sell the stuff? Posting anonymously and ranting rudely is so easy, but not allowed here.

    Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | May 24, 2014, 3:57 pm
  15. Dr. Jen,

    You do a very admirable job of identifying the risks of accepting as truth ANY company’s house created ‘sales pitch’ for a new ‘miracle’ product that is peppered with referrals to totally credible & famous research centres such as MD Anderson. When that link is extremely peripheral (i.e. that Dr Newman worked at MD Anderson and evaluated the potential of oleander as an adjunctive therapeutic contributor for treatment of a specific cancer tumour) – yet put forward to the public to strongly imply that MD Anderson and Dr. Newman had researched and verified Nerium works for dermatological application – specifically on the face – the suspicions and concerns should correctly surface. I had an acquaintance who is now a Nerium executive (in only a few weeks) tell me the company was “better than Apple”, & glibly claimed that there was easy wealth to be made, “a gold mine” etc, all the while claiming “scientifically proven miracle benefits”. I was told I am blind to the opportunity. Just drink the Kool-Aid…

    Over the past decade+ I have presented seminars on various products and technologies (including cancer detection technologies developed with support from MD Anderson and approx. 50 million in NIH funding): and I refer to published studies that demonstrate the efficacy of the product/technology. These studies MUST be published in peer reviewed journals, they must have been undertaken in multiple research centres by clinicians/researchers with NO funding or financial connection to the manufacturer, they must demonstrate reproducible results, they must have a quantifiable focus for measurement (not before & after photos….), must be able to support questions about longitudinal analysis as requested (and ongoing if the product is in early commercialization) and so on. A previous comment stated that a researcher’s bias means they find what they look for; implying that anti-Nerium attacks are all biased. I don’t agree with that oversimplification. If any manufacturer wants to claim value they can skew a study by creating a poor study designed to support their desired result. The construction of such a study may lead to a specific result that may in fact support an argument for/or against the product/technology in question but also raise questions of bias, that in the end prevent that study from being published in a peer reviewed journal and subsequently accessed through PubMed and so on. Before and after photos are NOT an acceptable research study. However, you have clearly explained these realities in your post. The angry retorts seem to mesh the company sales pitch blather (the facts according to Nerium which support the suction of the MLM platform) with confusion over FDA requirements and so on, as if this is an intelligent counter argument to your statements. The bottom line is simple – hey Nerium people, answer the questions asked with facts supported by evidence acceptable to peer reviewed journals & publish that data. As you have asked, send the studies summary, send the links to the published studies, etc.. Why was the application for Nerium AD commercial sale denied by Health Canada for sale in Canada? Why can’t Nerium provide the Optima ingredients list for independent analysis and publish the exact formulation results: i.e. is there Nerium extract of any kind in the bottle? What % of Nerium is in the bottle? And so on.

    I am not a ‘hater’, I would love to see everyone benefit from the “miracle” of Nerium products. I am not paid to promote any products in the Nerium domain and not paid to attack them. The only reason I am posting my thoughts is to establish that the most basic expectation for any such product such as Nerium is that when asked, they can supply the research references to the public that is asked to purchase the product and use it. In fact all such credible research should be a simple click on their website tab. It is a broadly analyzed, understood & accepted fact that MLM’s feed of the new recruits in the down-line and the vast majority of those in the down-line will never make any significant money from the product they represent. Mr. Olson is an acknowledged expert in the creation and implementation of the MLM concept and has had enormous success. That is why he understood how to craft the Nerium compensation program which is so attractive to new recruits. Yes some will get a Lexus and yes some will make a very good income; but they all feed off the down-line and thus they promote wealth under the guise of health. Brand Ambassadors etc ‘howling’ their indignation at anyone who may impede their sales pitch is transparently self-motivated. Miracles are not kept secret from clinical validation; rather they are SUPPORTED by research validation which would only mean that such a product would truly ‘sell itself’. BA’s would not have to push any sale….but that is virtually all they do. Isn’t that obvious??

    Posted by AJ | May 27, 2014, 3:47 pm
    • Thank you AJ for posting this-as a research physiologist I am amazed at the ‘buzz’ around this product and the claims being made without peer reviewed scientific studies. I don’t mind people giving their time and energy to a MLM company, that is their prerogative. However, I do mind that a product is being sold to people without full disclosure of ingredients as you have mentioned above. One would think that a MSDS should be included in the packaging.

      Posted by studioapro | July 23, 2014, 10:12 am
  16. There is no point in arguing with Nerium Brand Partners….this is an MLM cult, plain and simple. They are taught to “never talk to negative people” which simply means people asking regular questions. They must “believe and achieve”…they go to rallies, motivational events, etc where they get “whipped into a frenzy” and all critical thinking skills in the brain are completely shut off…I know-I was part of a multilevel marketing cult and understand this mentality. I have also lost 3 friends to the Nerium brainwashing cult.

    Posted by Hannah | June 3, 2014, 1:00 pm
  17. There was a well done segment on Nerium done by a CBS affiliate in San Francisco, Feb 2014.
    Thanks for getting out the word on this shady product!
    http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/video/9826195-questions-raised-about-real-science-behind-age-defying-skin-cream/

    Posted by Chris | June 3, 2014, 9:57 pm
  18. The bottom line to me is the fact that there are too many products that are safe and not questionable in anyway. So why would anyone take the risk? Not me. I am too busy trying to get the garbage OUT of my cosmetics. I get amazing results out of rosehip oil, so why bother with a product with a dirty laundry list like Nerium?

    Posted by Darla | June 4, 2014, 9:35 am
  19. Reblogged this on Beautiful Botanicals.

    Posted by Darla | June 4, 2014, 9:35 am
  20. Dr. Gunter,
    What are your thoughts on its long term application to the skin? Is it a mild inflammatory response that creates the quick wrinkle reducing results? If it’s inflammation, then long term application to the face will cause more harm than good!

    Posted by Concerned | June 12, 2014, 1:53 pm
  21. Trying to find some objective Nerium information on the product’s not so easy. I guess that’s one of the dangers for consumers with MLM products, you get info from people trying to make money off you or people bitter because they lost money from the company. Thanks for weeding out the crazy and actually helping the consumer Dr Jen!

    Posted by Susan | June 14, 2014, 8:09 am
  22. This is my concern as a consumer when first hearing about Nerium, its safety. Being part of the ‘getting older’ group, a quick fix for a few decades of living is very enticing; however, so is the protection of my vital organs! I need to see and hear more than anecdotal testimonies. Show me the peer-reviewed articles supporting the claims – not interested in making copious amounts of money or earning a Lexus because the true value is in having good health.

    Perhaps some individuals commenting on here are not aware of what is involved in validating claims and providing supporting evidence? This was the initial request. When this is provided (peer-reviewed articles, not white papers), I may take a closer look at purchasing what appears to be an amazing product. Until then, I am remaining an informed consumer instead of an emotional purchaser.

    Posted by Healthy Mama | June 16, 2014, 1:00 pm
  23. I’m just wondering if this article is also in reference to Nerium’s international product, called Optimera. Apparently, according to one of its sellers,
    Nerium, the US product contains oleander extract, but Optimera, the international counterpart, by Nerium uses a SAL-14 extract as their main ingredient. Do you know anything about this international product, and if not, do you know how to go about researching its safety, or lack thereof?

    Posted by Anna | June 17, 2014, 9:09 am
  24. I just wanted to thank you for posting this article. It’s always refreshing to see critical thinking applied, even in spite of those with a vested financial interest in confirmation of their assumptions. All too often it seems that once people have taken their blind leap of faith into a product, a business venture, (or a religion for that matter) they are then so steeped in confirmation bias (and protecting their emotions) that they are unwilling to see the counter evidence or rational argument. This is such a tragedy in our society but I am glad there are people like yourself who are willing to point it out. Thank you!

    No sound evidence and irrational arguments = NO SALE!

    Posted by philodragon | June 24, 2014, 1:27 pm
  25. Dr. Jen do you recommend any face cream or anti wrinkle.

    Posted by Jose gonzalez | July 1, 2014, 10:01 pm
  26. My wife and I almost became brand partners in this product. We are very thankful for your unbiased review and intelligent, well informed arguments. It is very transparent to me that the people who disagree with you can not back up their said of the argument with any fact based documentation to dispute what you are saying. When they read your post the simple reply with anger and childish abbreviations such as LMAO and the like. This does not bode well for their endorsement of the product. Name calling and obvious venom or disdain for others that don’t share their views is also very transparent. Also, there is absolutely no legitimate reason anyone can give to explain why they do not have peer based studies published or anything to prove their claims. Safety issue’s aside, look at the before and after pictures.The colour of the peoples teeth are different and the over all background and lighting is different. How do they put these out and think people won’t notice. Thank you for your article and educated opinions on this subject, you have been very helpful. On a side not, just out of curiosity, I too would also like to know if you have any info on Optimera. I am from Canada and our country has strict safety laws so it seems it may very well be the toxicity of the main ingredient in Nerium that is banned. It is also very suspect that you can have some miracle face cream and change the ingredients to be accepted in another country and the product works just the same.
    Thanks again Dr Gunter

    Posted by B Nicholas | July 4, 2014, 10:28 am
  27. PS, If its not to late…spelling errors…Line two I wrote the word -said- should be -side- and line three the word -the- should be -they-…Thank you :)

    Posted by B Nicholas | July 4, 2014, 10:37 am
  28. On top of the health risks that are highly likely to result from using this product, if it in fact contains oleander, it’s a pyramid scheme! It baffles me how people will spend $80 on a product without doing any research on it. Unless you’re a complete yuppy, common sense should warn you against getting sucked into a “business venture” like this. I’ve noticed that these Nerium pushers are extra defensive too. Facts don’t mean anything to them. If you’re ignorant about the problem, there’s no problem, apparently. I totally agree with your article! Ignore the morons; they’re going to be very sorry when they developed cancer in a few years.

    Posted by alexis | July 24, 2014, 6:18 pm

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