Scientifically named Azadirachta indica, neem is a tree of a mahogany family that is native the tropical areas of India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. India has taken advantage of the medicinal properties of neem for over thousands of years. In fact, “nimba,” the Sanskrit word for neem, translates to mean “good health.” This evergreen tree has flowers that bare fruits that turn golden when ripe. The neem tree also is resistant to droughts, as it requires little water and plenty of sunshine for survival.
Not only does neem provide relief for a number of ailments humans suffer from, but it provides relief for ailments of cattle and livestock, as well. Additionally, neem is used widespread cosmetically, as well as medicinally.
Benefits of Neem
The seeds, leaves and bark (and sometimes the flower and fruit) of the neem tree are all used to make medicine. The leaf is used as a treatment for eye concerns, leprosy, cardiovascular concerns, and stomach issues, including loss of appetite and intestinal worms. The leaf also aids in treating diabetes, skin ulcers, fever, as well as the gum disease, gingivitis.
The bark may be used to treat malaria, stomach ulcers, a number of skin concerns, and may work to relieve pain and reduce fever.
The flower and twigs come in handy to treat urinary tract disorders, to heal wounds, fight hair lice, asthma and hemorrhoids. Cosmetically, neem is used as a skin softener.
Antibacterial– Neem has very strong antimicrobial and antibacterial and effects. It is used as a general tonic for the immune system and to protect your overall health.
Diabetes: The chemical components in neem improve insulin receptor function and ensure that the body gets the appropriate amounts of insulin. Studies show that diabetics can use neem to minimize the dependence on insulin therapy.
Detox: Using the leaves directly on the skin or consuming the extract in supplement or other forms, neem helps rid the body of toxins. Its active ingredients stimulate the liver and kidneys to optimize the body’s metabolic activities.
Dandruff: Due to its antifungal and antibacterial properties, neem is popularly used in scalp cleansers and shampoos to eliminate dandruff and hydrate the skin. It also strengthens the hair and improves the health of the hair follicles, prevents male-pattern baldness, and stimulates hair growth.
Acne: Neem paste eliminates most of the bacteria and grease that can aggravate acne. Its antibacterial properties will help prevent future breakouts, while the antioxidants will help keep the skin looking clean and fresh and minimize scarring. Neem oil also has astringent properties, which diminish signs of aging and wrinkles and prevent saggy skin.
Fungal Infections: Diluted neem oil or neem paste applied directly to fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot, helps cure the infection.
Gastric Health: Neem extract reduces inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, which helps prevent ulcers and other intestinal issues, such as bloating, constipation and cramping. It also promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Reproductive Health: Neem is used in many cultures as a natural birth control and spermicide agent. It lowers fertility levels without interfering with sexual performance or libido, reduces the chances of conception for both men and women, and helps prevent and treat certain STIs.
How to Use Neem
To prepare neem tea, in a sauce pan pour 1 cup of water and bring this to a boil. Pour the boiling water over 2 ounces of fresh neem leaves. Steep this for around 5 minutes. Strain the tea into a cup. The tea can be flavored according to delight, including but not limited to lemon juice and honey.
To make your own neem extract, cover 1kg neem leaves in 5L of water and soak overnight. There is no need to heat or boil this ratio. The following day, grind the leaves in the mixture and then strain out the leaves, until you are left with a clear mixture. Keep this neem extract in a dark jar in the fridge, until needed.
Neem is likely safe for many adults when it is taken by mouth for up to 10 weeks, when applied in the mouth for up to 6 weeks, or when applied directly to the skin for up to 2 weeks. When neem is taken in doses that are large or for long periods of time, it can be unsafe. It might cause harm to the kidneys and liver.
Children: It is unsafe for children to take neem seeds or oil by mouth. The side effects in infants and small children may happen within hours after consuming neem oil. The side effects include vomiting, drowsiness, diarrhea, blood disorders, loss of consciousness, seizures, coma, brain disorders, and even death.
Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding: Neem bark and neem oil are more than likely unsafe when taken orally during pregnancy. Consuming these products may cause a miscarriage. There is not enough known about the safety of neem during breast-feeding, so it’s best to avoid use to stay on the safe side.
Neem has been known to lower blood sugar levels and can cause the levels to get too low. There is also some evidence supporting the thought that neem may harm sperm. It can reduce fertility in other ways and if you are trying to have children, please avoid using this herb.