Neem has been one of the traditional home remedies for a variety of disorders and dysfunctions in many households of India, and other parts of the South Asian subcontinent. It’s medicinal properties, and health benefits are expansive. There are also certain precautions you should know of when using neem. Here is a guide on this powerful plant.
- What is Neem?
- Amazing Benefits of Neem
- How to Use Neem?
- Dosage of Neem
- Possible Side Effects of Neem
What is Neem?
Belonging to the Mahogany family (Meliaceae), the neem tree, also known as Azadirachta indica, has its origin in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Burma. The tree grows about 15 feet tall, with the branches forming a canopy that gives a dense shade on a sunny day. The pointed leaves are about 30cm long on an average with leaflets on either side. The flower is cluttered together, and is of a white-ish yellow colour, with a beautiful fragrance. The overall tree has more than 130 biologically active compounds. It can grow even in poor soil and inadequate environmental conditions.
Due to its versatile healing nature, Neem tree has been adorned with many names and adjectives since the ancient times. Due to the neem medicinal uses in curing diseases, it has been described in the Vedas as ‘Sarva Roga Nivarini’. Other neem tree uses entail benefits for hair, skin, health, home, garden and more, making it truly a ‘precious wood’; which is its botanical name’s original meaning in Persian.
Amazing Benefits of Neem
From benefits of neem tree for beauty and for health to benefits of neem tree for home and garden, we are aware of its powers, but many of us are not very sure how to go on about its application. Here are a few tips for its benefits.
1. Helps lower blood sugar level
Neem has been found to help to control the blood sugar level, without the side-effects. It helps reduce dependency on insulin treatments.
For this to work, neem must be consumed, either through its extracts or the neem seed oil. The seed oil is great for controlling diabetes.
2. Treats infections
Neem has powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, making it an effective medicine to treat various infections.
For external use, boil some neem leaves in water meant for bathing. After the water gets a tinge of colour, remove the neem leaves and let it cool before using it to take a bath. This solution can cure warts, chicken pox, foot fungi and other infections. This is one of the neem benefits for the skin.
Neem medicinal uses also encompass internal use. Eating neem leaves daily helps to fight the harmful bacteria in the intestine and colon while keeping the good bacteria safe. It prevents infection of various internal organs.
3. Enhances Immunity
It increases immune function and is very effective in fighting high fever during malaria. Even otherwise, benefits of eating neem leaves are included preventive remedies for a lot of dysfunctions.
You may consume it in the form of tea every day. In this case, neem juice benefits are apparent and must be tried out.
4. Detoxifies the body
Another one of the benefits of eating neem leaves includes removing the toxins from the body. It stimulates the liver and kidney, resulting in easier and faster expulsion of impurities and toxins from the body. It also helps cleanse off the impurities that collect underneath the surface of the skin.
You can consume neem in any form for this – powder, juices, chewing the leaves, herbal capsules, etc. For cleansing, the skin, apply a neem paste externally.
5. Tackles acne
Neem’s anti-fungal and anti-bacterial qualities make it an amazing remedy for acne breakouts. Its anti-oxidant properties keep the skin hydrated and prevent scars from the acne. It also acts as an astringent, reducing signs of ageing, like wrinkles.
Put a branch of neem leaves in a blender. Add a tablespoon of water and blend the mixture into a paste. Apply this paste on the acne directly and leave it on till it dries. Wash it off with lukewarm water.
6. As pesticide and insecticide
Want a natural solution to keep insects off? Neem has the answers!
Soak a cotton ball in neem oil or paste and keep it near your window, or any other places that require the protection. Alternatively, you can also burn neem leaves nearby the target area. Keeping neem barks near also helps.
7. Healer of wounds
A household favourite, the neem can heal wounds without leaving ugly scars behind. It also has antiseptic properties preventing infections in the wound.
Apply some neem oil on the wounds and scars. Because the oil contains fatty acids, it reduces scarring, making the skin look healthy.
8. Hair growth
Neem oil benefits for hair has been reaped by people since ages. It has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that are an excellent remedy for getting rid of dandruff. It also stimulates the hair follicles and makes the hair roots stronger. Neem can also be used for nourishing and conditioning the hair.
There are three main ways to go about it. First, you can grind the leaves into a paste and apply it on your scalp 1-2 hours before showering it off. Second, you can boil the leaves in the bathing water and follow the steps mentioned before (Benefit #2) to wash your hair. Third, you can use the oil extracted from its seeds and mix it with a carrier oil of your preference and apply.
Discover more about the uses and benefits of neem oil for the hair growth.
9. As a Toothbrush
For thousands of years, before the advent of the toothbrush, neem has its uses to keep off dental plaques, and cavities, prevent the colonies of streptococci from forming and reduce inflammations. This is done through its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Simply procure a small twig from the tree of the neem and chew it every day. Indians have been using neem twigs as toothbrush since ages.
How to Use Neem?
Almost every part of the neem tree has benefits of its own.
1. Neem Leaves
You can either grind the neem leaves into paste or juice or put it in teas for infusing its benefits. It can also be turned into fine powder and consumed every day (2-4 grams). Neem juice usually confers protection against diseases, if taken daily (10-20mL). The Neem tea too has a similar use. Benefits of eating neem leaves encapsulate the preventive measures to diseases. Neem paste, however, is helpful for external topical applications.
2. Neem Oil
Neem oil is produced by drying, pressing, crushing and soaking the neem seeds. This oil is used in medicines, pesticides, and various beauty-related cosmetics. Neem oil benefits for hair are well-known worldwide. Used in ointments, it is useful for skin infections and diseases, while diluted using other oils like coconut, it can be used as an insect repellent. But, as a precaution, note that the oil is strong and not to be used carelessly. So use it as per proven recipes or consult your doctor first, before use.
3. Neem Flower
Neem has been used in traditional Indian food for a very long time. It can be used as a vegetable. It is used in cooking a soupy lentil dish, called rasam. They can also be roasted and used for garnishing other dishes. It is useful in the treatment of anorexia, belching, nausea and worms in the intestine.
4. Neem Paste/ Bark
While neem benefits for skin lie in its paste, chewing its bark helps maintain oral hygiene. The extract from the bark is used for treating stomach ulcers, but it is better to consult a doctor before trying it out.
Dosage of Neem
Neem tree uses are many, and its benefits are almost incomparable to any other plant. However, the usage of neem requires knowledge of its precautions too, especially when ingested. During internal use, the best one can do to follow the specified amount of proven recipes for different purposes, or as prescribed by a doctor.
1. Herbal Tea
Boil 1 tablespoon of neem leaves (dried) in 500mL of water for about 10 minutes. Strain this to remove the leaves. Drink it as a tea 2-3 times a day.
For medicinal purposes, about 40 drops in water, taken twice daily should help. If you buy a commercial neem capsule, follow the instructions on the capsule cover or that given by a professional.
Possible Side Effects of Neem
- Neem has been used in various forms since ages, and most adults do not suffer from any side effects. In uncommon cases, neem usage leads to side effects of breathing problems, drowsiness or seizures. This can happen when neem is taken in high dosage and very frequently, for a prolonged period.
- Neem oil usage must be avoided on children, infants and toddlers, unless suggested otherwise by a doctor.
- Elderly people or individuals with debilitating conditions, (especially that of liver and kidney) must avoid it, unless suggested otherwise by the doctor.
- If you are a woman trying to conceive, expecting or breastfeeding, avoid ingesting neem.
- Like for any other natural ingredient, in some cases, one may be allergic to various or a single part of the neem tree. Do a patch test before using any of the products. This means trying it out on a small area of your skin, before applying it all over. If it irritates the skin with skin allergies and rashes, avoid its usage.
- Be careful of overdosage, especially if you are under other kinds of medication.
Also read: 20 Amazing Neem Powder Benefits.