If I were to list all the research out there that supports the use of Neem in various cultures for its health benefits, I could probably just write a book on that list alone. This is one of those herbs/plants/trees that all the parts have a beneficial aspect – root, bark, leaves, seeds, flowers and fruit. If you are fortunate enough to live in a climate that supports its growth, it’s worth the investment to at least grow it in a pot in your garden. Lucky for me, I live in Florida and am fortunate enough to have a humongous pot into which I transplanted a baby Neem years ago, and now I am blessed with beautiful flowers and foliage as well as what I call ‘Bush Doctor’ medicine.
Neem aka ‘Azdirachta indica’ has its origins in India but is well known in Africa, China (leaves are called Yin Lian Ye in Chinese herbal medicine), in other tropical climates, and in Ayurvedic Medicine. It's called by a variety of names including Persian Lilac, Pride of China, Nimb, Indian lilac and Margosa Tree, Holy Tree or Life-Giving Tree to name a few. Matter of fact, the use of Neem as medicine has been documented even as far back as waaaaay before 4000 BC! It is also highly favored for its spiritual properties; reportedly it helps to heal not only the physical body, but the emotional and spiritual bodies as well and can even ward off Evil spirits.
Neem contains compounds that have been shown to have anti-fungal, antiseptic, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that boost immunity, reduce fevers especially in malaria, fight infections, protects the brain, regulates blood sugars, and purifies the blood & protects the liver. Studies also show that Neem contains flavanoids that help prevent/treat cancers.
Neem is used for its anti-aging properties and helps protect the skin from harmful UV rays. It’s also used in hair and skin products as well as toothpaste, and just chewing Neem twigs can help freshen the breath, improve oral hygiene and prevent dental infection (Transparency: it is very bitter!). It makes for a great acne treatment and the oil (extracted from the seeds) is an excellent moisturizer for dry skin or to treat eczema and psoriasis and dandruff.
Some Ideas for Use:
◦ As a paste to treat skin conditions; added to the bath water to treat chicken pox; oil applied to wounds to promote quicker healing and reduce scarring.
◦ As an insecticide to repel mosquitoes and insects and to treat plant infections (I have a huge Desert Rose plant I rescued off the sidewalk and it was covered in orange scales so I’ve been rubbing Neem oil over the bark and it’s doing so much better already (still a work in progress).
Few Words of Caution:
◦ It goes without saying, don’t just randomly decide to treat your condition with Neem or any other product actually without first discussing with your doctor.
◦ If using Neem oil topically, dilute oil with some form of carrier base to prevent any skin irritation and do a patch test 1st to be sure you are not allergic.
◦ Pregnant or lactating women, those trying to have kids, and people with kidney or liver problems should be very careful before ingesting Neem orally and should probably avoid using Neem PERIOD!
I would strongly encourage the Reader to look to adding Neem to your medicine chest or – even better – if you can grow your own plant, I’d definitely get one for your garden so you can reap the benefits of this miracle plant. If your curiosity has been peaked, I’d recommend the following reference from Sadguru which is pretty intensive and jam-packed with lots of really good info about Neem: “Amazing Health Benefits of Neem” (Sadguru); https://isha.sadhguru.org .
Until next time, happy weed’n; happy eat’n!
In good health,
◦ Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016; 2016: 7382506. Published online 2016 Mar 1
◦ https://pharmeasy.in/blog/ayurveda-uses-benefits-side-effects-of-neem-juice ; 7/20/23 Dr. Rajeev Singh
This information is educational in nature only, and is NOT intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader.