Sunday, March 11, 2018
Scientific name: Azadirachta indica
Other Names: Arishta, Arishtha, Bead Tree, Holy Tree, Huile de Neem, Indian Lilac, Indian Neem
Neem belongs to the Mahogany family or Meliaceae. It is a fast growing evergreen tree that can grow up to 15 meters in height and is found in abundance in tropical and semi-tropical regions like India, Burma, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.
This tree is drought resistant and is highly resistant to pests and diseases. The branches are long and form a broad crown while the flowers are small yellowish-white in color and has the shape of a star with a pleasant smell.
The bark is gray and rough and the leaves are pinnate with saw-toothed edges.
The fruit is hard, round, yellow and contains one single seed.
The leaves and bark have a bitter taste and are mostly used in tea and is often combined with other herbs such as spearmint and cinnamon.
The oil extracted from the seeds is known as margosa oil.
Neem helps to kill bacteria and fungi, it is often used as an ingredient in toothpaste, soaps and skin care products and it can also be used as an insecticide.
The flowers produce a nectar that can be used as a sweetener.
Parts used: Every part of this tree has medicinal value. Commonly used are bark, leaves, and seeds although the root, flower, and fruit are also used but less frequently.
Medicinal uses and properties:
For centuries, the neem tree has played a big part in Ayurvedic medicine, Unani, Homoeopathic medicine and Indian folk medicine and it is still one of the most commonly used medicinal plant in India owing to its wide range of medicinal properties.
More than 140 compounds have been isolated from different parts of neem. The healing properties of neem are mainly due to some bitter substances, known as triterpenes (limonoids) and azadirachtin. It also contains beta-sitosterol, tannins, polysaccharides, flavonoids and essential oil.
The antifungal, antioxidant content and antibacterial properties of neem make it a popular ingredient in shampoos and scalp cleansers as it hydrates the scalp, eliminate dandruff and strengthens the hair.
Neem is known to have antipyretic properties and it has been used traditionally to lower high fever.
The leaf of neem is known to demonstrate these properties: immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, antihyperglycaemic, antiulcer, antibacterial, antiviral, antimalarial, antifungal, antioxidant, antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic properties. Thus the Neem leaf is used for leprosy, ntestinal worms, stomach upset, loss of appetite, skin ulcers, diseases of the heart and blood vessels. fever, diabetes, gum disease/gingivitis, and liver problems.
The twigs are chewed to maintain the alkaline levels in the saliva, fight germs, treats swollen gums and claims to give whiter teeth. It is also used for cough, asthma, hemorrhoids, and diabetes.
The bark extract has been used as a treatment for asthma, sore throat, jaundice, tuberculosis, eczema, stomach ulcers, diabetes, arthritis, and rheumatism.
The flower is used for reducing bile, controlling phlegm, and treating intestinal worms.
The fruit is used for hemorrhoids, intestinal worms, urinary tract disorders, phlegm, diabetes, and skin wounds.
The seed and and its oil are used for leprosy and intestinal worms. IT is also used for birth control and can cause abortion.
Neem can be directly applied to the skin to treat head lice, wounds, skin ulcers.
It can also smoothen the skin and can be used as a mosquito repellent.
Herbal tea recipe: One tablespoon of the dried leaves in half a liter of boiling water and steep for 5-10 minutes before straining. Recommended dosage: two to three cups daily.
Potential Side Effects of Neem:
The herb is considered unsuitable for young children, infants, the elderly or people suffering from debilitating diseases or conditions. Ayurvedic doctors do not advise the use of neem if the person suffers from fatigue .
Don't use Neem in large doses as it can cause breathing problems, seizures, and lethargy (drowsiness).
It is advised to consult your physician before taking any medicinal plants or medication. The blog is for information purposes only.