Other Names: Azedarach, Holy Tree, Nim
Neem is one of the most studied herbs of the world.
Neem, known as "the village pharmacy" in India, has been used for at least 4000 years for its medicinal qualities. Ancient Indian texts also referred to neem as "the curer of all ailments".
All parts of the plant are used.
Neem as an Herb for Medicinal Uses
The medicinal parts of the plant are the bark, the leaves, the branches, the seeds and the latex. The plant has no odor, the taste is bitter.
Neem is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-septic, and strengthens the body's overall immune function reponses. Because of these properties, it is widely deployed in many different toiletries such as soap, toothpaste, hair care products, and skin care products.
Neem has been used to treat many ailments, including:
- sore throat
- food poisoning
- fungal infections
- yeast infections
- sexually transmitted diseases
- skin diseases
- heart diseases
- blood disorders
- kidney problems
- digestive problems
- periodontal diseases
- nerve disorders
And many others. A slightly narcotic decoction can be prepared (said to lower a fever). An ointment for killing lice is administered topically.
Neem has been very successful in treating lice. In a study, fresh neem leaves and turmeric root were pulverized into a paste using 4 parts neem to 1 part turmeric; the paste was then rubbed over the body daily and allowed to dry. Treatment was repeated until lice were gone. In addition to this treatment, standard delousing procedures were followed (boiling clothes and bedding). The outcome was a 98 percent cure rate, with the 2 percent who failed having also failed to follow procedures accurately.
Neem Oil has powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties. It is beneficial to those who suffer from various skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, eczema, skin ulcers, etc. Neem oil treats hair related problems like dandruff and itchy scalp and dental care products like toothpaste, mouth washes and rinses all use the neem oil's antiseptic properties to keep teeth health and gums free of infection.
Suggested usages for Neem Oil
- Athlete's foot: Add a few drops to a foot soak, foot powder, or anti-fungal salve recipe.
- For dandruff and head lice: Massage with olive oil or other carrier oil into the hair and scalp. Leave in for one hour, and then shampoo out.
- In salves-- add a few drops to your healing salve.
- In soaps-- use with your base oils.
- Garden pesticide-- Mix with Castille Soap and water, spray onto infested plants as needed. The spray will suffocate soft bodied insects, and will repel other insects.
- Acne-- mix a small amount into your facial clay and apply to problem spots.
- Bath-- mix a few drops into the bathwater.
- Bug repellent: Use in lotion to deter bugs and mosquitoes.
- Hand soap: Add to liquid hand soap for antibacterial properties.
Currently, neem is being closely studied for use in battling AIDS, cancer, diabetes, allergies, and as birth control for both men and women.
A common decoction consists of 2 ounces bark to 1 pint water; boil down to 1/2 pint. Taken 1 tablespoon every 2 or 3 hours.
Neem should not be used for more than two weeks at a time. For chronic ailments, it should be used on a schedule of two weeks on, one week off, or as directed under the guidance of a health practitioner.
Neem nuts have been used to make rosary beads.
Culinary Uses of Neem
Tree exudes a gum which has been considered by some to be aphrodisiac.
Children and pregnant or nursing women should not use Neem. Infants have suffered from death as a result of internal use of Neem.
Long term use of the oil has been linked with liver and kidney dysfunction.
Large doses of Neem may be toxic. If you are currently on medication, consult with a doctor before using Neem. Not enough studies have been done on drug interactions.
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