Botanical Name: Azadirachta indica
Family: Meliaceae (mahogany)
Other common names: Pride of India, Azadirachta, Nim, Margosa, Holy Tree, Indian Lilac Tree, Bead Tree
Description:Neem is a tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae. It is one of two species in the genus Azadirachta, and is native to India and Burma, growing in tropical and semi-tropical regions. Other vernacular names include Margosa, Nimtree, Nimba, Vepu, Vempu, Vepa in (Telugu), Bevu in Kannada, Veppam in (Tamil) and Indian-lilac.
Neem is a fast growing tree that can reach a height of 15-20 m, rarely to 35-40 m. It is evergreen but under severe drought it may shed most or nearly all of its leaves. The branches are wide spread. The fairly dense crown is roundish or oval and may reach the diameter of 15-20 m in old, free-standing specimens
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The trunk is relatively short, straight and may reach a diameter of 1.2 m. The bark is hard, fissured or scaly, and whitish-grey to reddish-brown. The sapwood is greyish-white and the heartwood reddish when first exposed to the air becoming reddish-brown after exposure. The root system consists of a strong taproot and well developed lateral roots.
The alternate, pinnate leaves are 20-40 cm long, with 20-31 medium to dark green leaflets about 3-8 cm long. The terminal leaflet is often missing. The petioles are short. Very young leaves are reddish to purplish in colour. The shape of mature leaflets is more or less asymmetric and their margins are dentate with the exception of the base of their basiscopal half, which is normally very strongly reduced and cuneate.
The flowers (white and fragrant) are arranged axillary, normally more-or-less drooping panicles which are up to 25 cm long. The inflorescences, which branch up to the third degree, bear 150-250 flowers. An individual flower is 5-6 mm long and 8-11 mm wide. Protandrous, bisexual flowers and male flowers exist on the same individual (polygamous).
The fruit is a glabrous olive-like drupe which varies in shape from elongate oval to nearly roundish, and when ripe are 1.4-2.8 x 1.0-1.5 cm. The fruit skin (exocarp) is thin and the bitter-sweet pulp (mesocarp) is yellowish-white and very fibrous. The mesocarp is 0.3-0.5 cm thick. The white, hard inner shell (endocarp) of the fruit encloses one, rarely two or three, elongated seeds (kernels) having a brown seed coat.
Commercial plantations of the trees are not considered profitable. Around 50,000 neem trees have been planted near Mecca to provide shelter for the pilgrims.
Warning: The neem tree is very much lookalike to the Chinaberry, whose fruits (and everything else) are extremely poisonous.
Medicinal and other uses:
Neem Leaf is said to be India’s best-kept secret, and for thousands of years this “Pride of India”
has treated more than one hundred health problems! It is said to be one of the most important detoxicants in Ayurvedic medicine and is also believed to be a potent antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and parasiticide that combats infections of all kinds. In addition, Neem is used toÂ facilitate digestion, support heart health, improve the urinary tract and treat fevers and pain. Important, new research claims that Neem will help diabetics and combat invasive disease.
Neem Leaf is a bitter tonic herb that nourishes and strengthens the digestive tract and is excellent for digestive disorders. Because it is believed to work wonders for the gastrointestinal tract (the passage along which food passes for digestion, including esophagus, stomach, duodenum, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, small and large intestines), Neem is often taken to correct problems of the stomach and bowels and is effective in easing nausea, indigestion, gastritis, intestinal distress, hyperacidity, and peptic and duodenal ulcers. It also appears to reduce gastric secretions and aids in eliminating toxins and harmful bacteria from the system, thereby reducing stomach discomfort.
In the treatment of constipation, Neem Leaf is thought to be an effective purgative, especially in larger doses, but because it is also a soothing demulcent, it is not a harsh laxative, and its use is thought to regulate bowel function. It has also been used as an anthelmintic, which destroys and expels intestinal worms, perhaps because of its effective laxative and parasiticidal properties.
Neem Leaf is thought to support heart health in several ways. Recent studies have shown that the leaf extract, nimbidin, significantly lowers serum cholesterol levels, which helps to reduce blood clots. Nimbidin also causes blood vessels to dilate and may be responsible for lowering blood pressure and improving blood circulation. These actions are thought to reduce the risk for arteriosclerosis, stroke and heart attack. Moreover, it is also thought to slow rapid heartbeat and inhibit irregularities of the rhythms of the heart (arrhythmia).
Neem Leaf is said to improve many urinary tract disorders, especially burning urination. The leaf extract, sodium nimbidinate, acts as a diuretic, promoting the flow of urine, and this action helps to relieve phosphaturia (excess phosphates in the urine) and albuminuria (escess albumin in the urine), which can be caused by chronic congestion of the kidneys. The increased urine helps to flush the kidneys and further cleanse toxins from the system.
The tannin in Neem Leaf acts as an astringent, and as such, it has been used to remedy diarrhea and dysentery.
Neem Leaf is said to be one of the finest detoxicants available that clears pollutants from the body. The herb’s antiseptic qualities are said to cleanse the blood of harmful bacteria that cause infections. Moreover, cleaner blood is invaluable for improving skin conditions, and Neem Leaf has been famous for its beneficial effects in cases of skin diseases and problems, including eczema, psoriasis, septic sores, infected burns, boils, acne and scrofula.
Supporting Neem’s traditional role as an antibacterial (twig) toothbrush, modern studies confirm its important role in total oral hygiene. Neem’s antimicrobial and antiseptic properties are effective in reducing plaque, caries, gingival scores and pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria in the mouth. A mouthwash prepared from Neem extract was found to inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans,
an oral pathogen (bacteria) responsible for dental caries and was effective in reversing mouth ulcers (incipient carious lesions).
Recent research is being conducted into the use of Neem Leaf for diabetes. A number of insulin-dependent diabetics were able to reduce their insulin considerably when treated with Neem Leaf extract and Neem oil. The general impression is that Neem may enhance insulin receptor sensitivity and may work well on Type II diabetics.
Neem Leaf is a virtual living pharmacy and is a powerful antibacterial and antifungal. Its quercetin content (a polyphenolic flavonoid) helps to combat infections and certain fungi. Neem is believed to destroy the fourteen most common fungi that infect the human body, such as athlete’s foot, nail fungus, intestinal tract fungi and a fungus that is part of the normal mucous flora that may get out of control and lead to lesions in the mouth, vagina, skin, hands and lungs.
As an antiviral, Neem Leaf has been used to combat smallpox, chicken pox, and recent tests have shown that it may be effective against herpes virus and the viral DNA polymerase of hepatitis B virus.
Neem has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat malarial fevers, and recent experiments have shown that one of the Neem’s components, gedunin, is as effective as quinine against malaria. It is also used to control trypanosomiasis (African sleeping sickness or Chagas’ disease), caused by a parasite that lives inside nerve and muscle cells. Neem is also considered effective in reducing fever, relieving pain and reducing inflammation.
Neem Leaf is said to be an expectorant that loosens and expels phlegm and congestion from the respiratory system and has been used to relieve dry cough, nasal congestion, bronchitis, laryngitis, pharyngitis, tuberculosis, pleurisy and other respiratory disorders.
Neem has been used effectively as a contraceptive since the first century B.C., when an eminent Ayurvedic physician wrote of its use for this purpose. It is a highly potent antibacterial, spermicidal, parasiticide, antifungal and antiviral, and in cases of sexual contact, current studies claim that it may help to prevent AIDS, gonorrhea, trichomonas, chlamydia and other sexually transmitted conditions. Whether ingested or used topically in the vagina, the leaves and oil have been effective in killing human spermatozoa. Many women in Madagascar chew Neem leaves every day, which is believed to prevent pregnancies, and in cases of unwanted pregnancies, it is thought to be capable of inducing a miscarriage (it is a uterine stimulant that has also been used to stimulate suppressed menstruation). Neem Leaves have been used as a vaginal douche to heal wounds caused during delivery and disinfect the vaginal passage.
When used externally, Neem Leaf is used as an eyewash for the treatment of night blindness, in shampoos for hair loss and premature graying. Used topically, its antiseptic, insecticidal and antiviral properties are believed efficacious against septic sores, warts, infected burns, ringworm, lice, boils, ulcers, indolent ulcers, glandular swellings, wounds, smallpox, syphilitic sores and eczema. Its anti-inflammatory qualities will also relieve painful joints and muscles.
Neem Leaf is said to be India’s best-kept secret, and for thousands of years this “Pride of India” has treated more than one hundred health problems! It is said to be one of the most important detoxicants in Ayurvedic medicine and is also believed to be a potent antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and parasiticide that combats infections of all kinds. In addition, Neem is used to facilitate digestion, support heart health, improve the urinary tract and treat fevers and pain. Important, new research claims that Neem will help diabetics and combat invasive disease.
Neem is perhaps the most useful traditional medical plant, mostly available in India.Each part of the neem tree has tremendus medical properity and is thus commercially exploitable.It is considered as a most valuable sourse of unique biological product for the development of different kinds of medicines against various diseases and also for the industrial products.Its phermacological value is vast.
Various parts of neem tree have been used as a tradtional Ayurbedic medicine in India from time immemorial. It’s leaf,root,flower and fruit togather cure blood morbidity,bilary afflictions,itching,skin ulsers,burning sensations. We can have various use of neem in our day to day life:-
* Mix pure, dried neem leaf powder with vaseline in the ratio of 1:5. This combination can be used to repel insects including mosquitoes. It can also be used to treat skin disorders, minor cuts, burns, wounds, etc.
* Boil neem leaves with water and add to bath water along with rose water to cure itching, excessive perspiration, etc.
* Boil 10 freshly cleaned neem leaves along with cotton in a litre of water for approximately 10 minutes. Keep it aside to cool. Use this to rinse your eyes in case of conjunctivitis, itching, etc.
* Use pure neem oil mixed with coconut and sandalwood oil for treating hairfall, premature greying, lice, dandruff and scalp infections.
* To treat a sore throat without antibiotics, gargle with neem leaf water to which honey is added.
* For acne, pimples and skin infections, apply pure neem leaf powder mixed with water to the affected area.
* In case of sinusitis, use pure neem oil as nasal drops. Use 1-2 drops in the morning and evening.
* Boil 40-50 neem leaves in 250 ml for 20 minutes. Cool, strain, bottle, refrigerate and store to use as an astringent.
* Chewing four to five neem leaves regularly helps in cases of hyperacidity and diabetes. It also purifies blood.
* Neem oil has anti-fungal properties. Putting two drops of neem oil in the ear once daily, at bedtime, helps to cure fungal infection of the ear.
* For jaundice, juice of neem leaves (15-30 ml) and half the quantity of honey taken on an empty stomach for seven days is recommended.
* Prevent breeding of mosquitoes by adding crushed neem seeds and neem oil to all breeding areas. Neem products ensure complete inhibition of egg laying for seven days.
* Add 30 ml of neem oil to one litre of water. Mix well. Add one ml of Teepol and spray immediately for plant protection.
* To ward off mosquitoes, add five to 10 per cent neem oil to any oil and light as a candle.
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The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.