Neem, Azadirachta indica, is a tree native to the Indian subcontinent. It has been used in traditional medicine for centuries due to its various therapeutic properties. Different parts of the neem tree, including the leaves, bark, seeds and oil, are utilized for their medicinal benefits. Additionally, neem has been studied for its potential use in pest control, agriculture and oral health products.

History of Neem Use

The ancient Neem Tree of Asia has been the source of natural medicinal extracts for thousands of years. Indian history documents farmers having purposefully tended to and harvested Neem trees for their beneficial uses as far back as the Vedic period, 1500-600 B.C.

Until recent history, the Neem has been used internally and externally in the traditional Ayurvedic herbal healing treatments in India. The last half century has seen the expansion of this herbal product into other parts of the world where European and American scientists have begun studies on the potential medical benefits of Neem.

With a history that spans from the beginning of Hinduism through the modern era, the Neem tree has proven itself to be a valuable herbal aid for daily living and for the support of ailments and irritants. As more studies are done with positive results and more people learn about Neem, its uses will become more a part of many individuals’ daily health regiments.

Habitat of the Neem Tree

The Neem tree is a member of the Mahogany family Meliaceae and presents a close similarity to the Chinaberry tree. The Latin name for the Neem is Azadirachta indica, but it is also commonly referred to as Nimtree and Indian Lilac.

The Neem tree is native to the countries of Asia, primarily in IndiaBurmaBangladesh and Pakistan. In India, the Neem tree is affectionately called Nature’s Drugstore since all parts of the tree are used in various forms for herbal healing. The Neem is a hardy evergreen tree that can survive in drought conditions by shedding most of its leaves, but it rebounds quickly to its lush green appearance as moist soil returns.

Health Benefits of Neem

Neem is known for its antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a popular ingredient in skincare products, herbal remedies and Ayurvedic medicine. The leaves, bark, seeds and oil of the Neem tree are utilized for their medicinal benefits.

Neem oil, in particular, is commonly used in skincare products to treat acne, eczema and other skin conditions due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects.

Cosmetic Uses of Neem

Asian populations use Neem leaf powder, Neem leaf oil, Neem pulp and seed oil, Neem tree bark and small Neem twigs for a wide array of medicinal and cosmetic purposes. The leaf powder and oil, mixed in either an aloe or vegetable base, is used topically in lotion, cream, and salve formats to treat skin ailments, to maintain smooth complexions and to moisturize the hands and body.

The lotions and creams containing Neem seed oil can be used all over the body for dry or itchy skin and dermatitis. Neem seed oil is used in nail polish to support smooth, shiny nails.

Leaf oil shampoo is used for shiny hair and in the making of body wash and bars of soap to reduce skin irritations from harsh weather. Liquid Neem seed oil is also used in shampoo form for scalp conditions such as psoriasis and lice.

Medicinal Uses of Neem

Neem leaf powder in vegetable capsules is taken as a herbal supplement to support the immune system and as part of a regime to support healthy blood sugar levels. Neem powder tea is used for antibiotic and antiviral treatments.

Neem Twigs as a Toothbrush

Slender Neem tree twigs are used in Asia as toothbrushes. It is believed that the healing powers from the tree support good dental hygiene and aid in preventing gingivitis and periodontal diseases. Neem leaf extract is also used in the manufacture of toothpastes.

Clinical Studies on Neem

Clinical scientific studies on the potential medical benefits of Neem have recently begun in America. There have been several tests related to the treatment of gastric secretion and gastric duodenal ulcers with Neem bark extracts at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. One study in particular concluded with positive results for the use of Neem bark extract to reduce or completely heal acid reflux and gastric ulcers.

In this study patients with acid related problems and ulcers were treated twice daily for 10 days with 30 mg of aqueous Neem bark extract. After 10 days, there was a major decrease in gastric acid secretion and all the blood tests for any toxicity remained at or near to positive control values. Duodenal ulcers were significantly improved at an increased dosage of 30-60 mg. taken twice daily for 10 weeks.

Additionally, one participant’s esophageal ulcer and one participant’s gastric ulcer were completely healed as a result of being treated twice daily for 6 weeks with 30 mg. of the bark extract.

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Neem Notes / Side Effects

While neem is generally considered safe when used topically or orally in appropriate doses, it may cause some side effects in certain individuals. Common side effects of neem may include:

Skin irritation: Neem oil or products containing neem extract may cause skin irritation, redness, itching, or a burning sensation, especially in individuals with sensitive skin.

Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to neem and may experience allergic reactions such as rash, hives or swelling after exposure to neem products.

Stomach upset: Ingesting neem in large amounts may cause gastrointestinal upset, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain.

Liver damage: There have been reports of liver damage associated with the ingestion of high doses of neem supplements or extracts. Individuals with liver disease or those taking medications that affect the liver should use neem with caution.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to avoid using neem internally due to the lack of safety data regarding its effects on fetal development and nursing infants.

It’s essential to use neem products according to the manufacturer’s instructions and consult with a healthcare professional before using them if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications. If you experience any adverse reactions while using neem, discontinue use and seek medical attention if necessary.



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