The neem tree is a tropical evergreen native to India and Asia. For thousands of years, neem (Azadirachta indica) has been used in Ayurvedic medicine. Owing to its wide range of medicinal properties, it has attracted worldwide attention from allopathic, homeopathic, and integrative physicians and health researchers.
More than 140 compounds have been isolated from different parts of neem. All parts of the tree—bark, leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits, and roots can be used for the treatment of a variety of conditions. Medicinal applications of neem range from fever and inflammation to skin diseases and dental care. The leaf and bark, and their derivatives, have properties that demonstrate anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and anticarcinogenic healing effects.
Neem remedies and neem-based products are appealing because they do not contain harsh chemicals and have varied uses for general health and well-being. Neem extracts are frequently found in shampoo, toothpaste, soap, cosmetics, insect repellent, lotions and creams, and pet shampoo.
Some of the common medicinal forms of neem are:
Extracts. High vitamin E content makes extracts effective in treating skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, and skin allergies. They also have been found effective in eliminating bacterial and fungal infections. The leaf is the primary source for extracts.
Bark. The bark has potent antibacterial properties. It can be made into a fast-absorbing oil to treat recurrent skin conditions, skin infections, and wounds.
Twigs. For centuries in India, chewing young, soft branches has been useful for preventing cavities and gum disease. In the United States, neem toothpaste and other dental products are used in holistic dental care.
Seeds. Crushing the seeds of the fruit produces a potent oil that is predominantly used in insecticide and pesticide products. It is a safer alternative to products containing the chemical DEET. It is also a very good flea and tick repellent for animals. For people, the oil can be added to shampoos to soothe a dry, itchy scalp.
Where to find neem products:
- Neem Tree Farms http://neemtreefarms.com/neem-bark-powder-p-105.html
- Pure Formulas Neem Toothpaste www.pureformulas.com/
- Discover Neem http://www.discoverneem.com/neem-spray.html
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Organeem. “Neem Oil and Its Uses.” Accessed March 2015. http://www.organeem.com/neemoilitsuses.html
Village Volunteers. “History, Medicinal, and Practical Uses of Neem.” Accessed March 2015.
Image Attribute Mohammed Anwarul Kabir Choudry, Dreamstime.com