Of all the trees and plants that have proven to be advantageous to mankind, the neem tree deserves special mention because of its extremely high versatility and wide range of applications. A native to India, the neem (Azadirachta indica) proudly possesses numerous qualities that make it fit to be called a wonder tree. The neem tree produces a fruit that is edible and the oil obtained from the seeds of the fruit is known for its great medicinal properties. In fact, every part of the tree including the bark, leaves, fruit pulp, flowers and seeds hold potent medicinal value and hence the neem has long been used in traditional Indian medicine for healing and curing many ailments. It is also referred to as the village pharmacy.
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Useful parts of the neem
According to Ayurvedic medicine, the various parts of neem including the seeds, leaves, bark, oil and roots have strong medicinal properties that it is often called the curer of all ailments. The uses of different parts of the neem are as follows:
Leaf and seed extract of neem
The extracts derived from the leaves and seeds of neem have been found to have spermicidal properties. Because of this property, pills, suppositories and vaginal creams containing this extract are becoming popular as a birth control method. The extract also has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic properties and is used to heal burns, cuts, headaches, and fever.
What is neem oil? Neem oil, which is obtained from the seeds of the neem tree has been found to have medicinal properties and hence is used as an ingredient in many medicines. Being a powerful insecticide and pesticide, neem oil is also used in controlling insects and pests that destroy crops and food. Organic neem oil is better alternative while using it as medicine.
How to make neem oil at home?
Neem seed contains most oil. Oil can be obtained by cold pressing the seeds. Leaves also provide small amount of oil. Blend seeds in a grinder, squeeze out liquid. This liquid would be rich in neem oil. This liquid can be directly used. Mix this liquid with water and allow settling; neem oil will float and can be removed if concentrated oil is required. You may look for other recipes for making neem oil at home. Homemade neem oil or neem seed liquid can be used as insecticide for your organic garden.
Neem leaves have been found to increase your immunity. It has also been used as a remedy to cure pain, fever, and fungal infections. The paste of neem leaves are used in the treatment of chicken pox and also to get rid of the warts caused by the disease. Neem leaves are also used to ward off insects in stored grains or keep mosquitoes away.
Neem twigs have been used since ancient times as an effective toothbrush in India and Africa.
Neem bark and roots
In addition to having medicinal properties, the bark and roots of neem are used to drive away fleas and ticks.
Neem seed cake
The residue obtained after extracting the oil from neem, when added to soil helps in nourishing and enriching the soil. By slowing down the nitrification process, the neem seed cake prevents the loss of nitrogen in the soil. It is also an effective nematicide and hence is used to kill parasitic worms.
Health Benefits of Neem
Because of its amazing health benefits, neem has been an integral part of Ayurvedic medicine since ancient times. It has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties that make it beneficial not only for your health but also for improving your beauty and appearance. Some of the benefits of neem are listed below:
Neem and skin benefits
Neem happens to be a wonderful skin care agent. Not only is it beneficial for removing skin problems like acne, blackheads, pigmentation etc, it can also make your skin smooth and young looking. Neem soap are popular in customer segments who know benefits of neem. Read on to see how neem helps you achieve healthy and beautiful skin:
Neem for removing acne and pigmentation – Neem has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful in treating acne breakouts. Boil few neem leaves in water until the water changes to green color. Regular use of this solution to clean your skin will help in eliminating acne, blackheads and pigmentation. The application of neem oil is also another effective way to reduce blackheads. Applying a paste of neem leaves and turmeric can cure acne and pimples, giving you clear, smooth and flawless skin. Try out Neem oil acne treatment at home.
Neem for skin infections – Due to its anti-microbial activity, neem is a great remedy for curing skin infections. Bathing in water boiled with neem leaves have been found to relieve skin problems and infections. Try out Neem oil eczema treatment at home.
Neem for controlling excess oil – For controlling the excess production of sebum or oil in your skin, prepare a paste of neem powder, yogurt and lime juice and apply it on your face. This is an excellent solution for people with oily skin as it helps in preventing the occurrence of acne or other skin infections that are often associated with oily skin.
Neem as a moisturizer – Neem is a powerful moisturizer too that helps in eliminating skin dryness. It helps in hydrating and nourishing your skin without making it too oily. The moisturizing property of neem makes it useful in treating conditions like psoriasis that is characterized by dry, itchy and scaly skin. The antibacterial effects of neem help in preventing further infections.
Neem for treating skin allergies – Boil neem leaves in water and apply this solution to the allergic area. The anti-inflammatory properties of neem will help in soothing your skin, in relieving the allergy and preventing infections.
Neem oil reduces wrinkles and aging signs – Neem oil contains certain compounds that act on your skin to improve its elasticity and keep it looking young and supple. It helps in removing the signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines and age spots.
Hair benefits of neem
Neem is not only effective in taking care of your skin, but is also very beneficial in treating scalp and hair problems. Neem, being a truly natural herb, you don’t have to worry about any side effects or damage to your hair as is usually caused by chemical hair care products. The beneficial effects of neem on your hair include the following:
Neem improves hair growth – Because of its regenerative properties, neem is very effective in reducing hair fall. Massaging neem oil on to your scalp increases the blood circulation and promotes increased hair growth.
Neem gets rid of dandruff – Neem has antimicrobial properties that help in treating dandruff and in preventing hair fall. It also helps in keeping your scalp healthy and promoting hair growth. A number of neem shampoo are available in market these days which contains neem extract. You may try cheaper alternative using neem leaves directly. Boil a few neem leaves in water until the water becomes green in color. Use this water to rinse your hair after shampooing.
Neem is an excellent hair conditioner – Neem is a wonderful conditioner that helps to manage frizzy and dry hair. Boil neem leaves in water and make a paste of the leaves with honey. Apply this paste on your hair and wash it off after some time. This helps in conditioning your hair, making it look shiny and lustrous.
Neem relieves itchy scalp – In addition to providing relief from dandruff, the anti-microbial effects of neem helps in easing itchiness of the scalp. Make a paste of neem powder with water and apply it on the scalp. Leave it for an hour or so and wash it off with shampoo.
Neem boosts your immune system
Neem enhances your immune system by improving cell mediated and lymphocytic immune systems. It is also capable of destroying disease causing bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. By stimulating the lymphocytic immune system, neem increases the number of white blood cells, which helps in guarding your body against the attack of pathogens.
Neem and digestive system
Neem improves your digestive system by helping in the removal of toxins and bad bacteria. It also helps in reducing the concentration of hydrochloric acid in the intestine. Oral intake of neem leaf extract or neem tea has been found to be effective in treating gastric and duodenal ulcers. Neem also functions as a de-worming agent, which helps in getting rid of intestinal worms.
Neem for heart health
Neem helps in protecting your heart by lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure. Neem leaf extract has been found to be effective in reducing clotting, reducing elevated heartbeats and inhibiting irregular heart rhythms. Some compounds in neem have antihistamine effects that dilate the blood vessels, thus helping in maintaining normal blood pressure levels.
Neem and cancer
Research indicates that neem has powerful anti-cancer properties. All parts of the neem tree, especially the bark, leaves, and oil are used widely for treating various types of cancer. According to a study published in the April 2006 issue of Journal of Ethnopharmacology, neem leaf extract may be helpful in killing prostate cancer cells. Another study carried out in hamsters suggests that certain compounds in neem leaves may be effective in preventing the spread of cancer. Neem leaves contain antioxidants like vitamin C and beta-carotene and other substances like azadirachtin, deoxonimbolide, nimbolide, quercetin etc that help in treating or preventing cancer by reducing inflammation, blocking hormonal activity, enhancing your immune response, eliminating free radicals, and slowing down cell division.
Neem for curing arthritis
According to ayurvedic medicine, the leaves, bark and seeds of neem are helpful in treating arthritis by reducing inflammation and pain. This effect of neem is attributed to the various compounds it contains that have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Some of the major components in neem that has proved to cause significant relief from arthritis are nimbidin, limonoids and catechin. These compounds are also found to have pain relieving properties that is helpful in easing the pain caused by arthritis.
Neem controls diabetes
Niem has been found to increase insulin sensitivity and control blood sugar levels. Hence it has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat and manage diabetes. Many diabetic people follow a practice of chewing a neem leaf daily. Neem capsules for diabetes are also available.
Neem and oral care
Many rural parts of India still use neem stem as alternative to toothbrush and paste. Small stick of neem is chewed from one end until juice is extracted and fibrous neem brush is formed. This neem brush is believed to control bacteria in mouth. Neem toothpaste is another alternative, which contains neem extract while offering similar benefits.
As you can see, apart from providing overall health benefits to your body, neem is a wonderful beauty enhancer too. Because of its incredible medicinal, agricultural and domestic importance, neem is often called nature’s drug store or the wonder tree.